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The Maryknoll Catholic Mission in Peru, 1943-1989

Transnational Faith and Transformation

Susan Fitzpatrick-Behrens

Publication Year: 2011

Maryknoll Catholic missionaries from the United States settled in Peru in 1943 believing they could save a “backward” Catholic Church from poverty, a scarcity of clergy, and the threat of communism. Instead, the missionaries found themselves transformed: within twenty-five years, they had become vocal critics of United States foreign policy and key supporters of liberation theology, the preferential option for the poor, and intercultural Catholicism. In The Maryknoll Catholic Mission in Peru, 1943-1989, Susan Fitzpatrick-Behrens explains this transformation and Maryknoll’s influence in Peru and the United States by placing it in the context of a transnational encounter among Catholics with shared faith but distinct practices and beliefs. Peru received among the greatest number of foreign Catholic missionaries who settled in Latin America during the Cold War. It was at the heart of liberation theology and progressive Catholicism, the center of a radical reformist experiment initiated by a progressive military dictatorship, and the site of a devastating civil war promoted by the Maoist Shining Path. Maryknoll participated in all these developments, making Peru a perfect site for understanding Catholic missions, the role of religion in the modern world, and relations between Latin America and the United States.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press


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pp. ix-xii

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pp. 1-18

Like many people who attended Catholic schools in the United States, I was introduced to Maryknoll when a mission priest assigned to Africa gave a talk to my third-grade class. For earlier generations of parochial school students, these mission talks were a staple of the school year...

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1. Maryknoll and the New Deal for Latin America

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pp. 19-45

When Superior General Walsh assigned the first Maryknoll priests to Latin America in 1942, the decision appeared purely pragmatic since World War II rendered most of the world inaccessible. But Latin America also had characteristics that made it an appealing mission field. ...

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2. First Impressions: Maryknoll Priests and the People of Puno, 1943–1953

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pp. 47-79

Puno’s bishop, Salvador Herrera, responded enthusiastically when he learned that missionaries from the United States hoped to settle in his diocese. When he met Maryknoll Superior General Walsh at a gathering in Lima, Bishop Herrera had just come from the Santa Catalina Convent...

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3. The Transformative Power of Tradition, 1954–1967

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pp. 81-143

Within a decade of their arrival in Puno, Maryknoll turned the image of priests upside down by taking a pro-indigenous approach to mission, initiating a range of socioreligious programs and acting as models of integrity. Sister Maria Rubina, a Peruvian sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet...

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4. The Limits of Alliances, 1968–1976

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pp. 145-203

In 1968 General Juan Velasco Alvarado came to power in a military coup that overthrew Peru’s democratically elected president, Fernando Belaúnde Terry. Velasco’s was among the first of the military dictatorships that would dominate Latin America in the 1970s. ...

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5. Reform, Violence, and "Reconciliation," 1976–1989

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pp. 205-229

In four years fatal car accidents killed four bishops of the progressive Iglesia del Sur Andino in rapid succession. On May 9, 1982, Monseñor Luis Dalle was returning to his prelature of Ayaviri when his bus struck a parked truck, killing him, the driver, and other passengers. ...

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pp. 231-239

First appearances would suggest that the Maryknoll Catholic mission movement represented the paradigmatic case of Williams’s The Tragedy of American Diplomacy. Maryknoll’s founding in 1911, expansion during World War II, and decline in the early 1970s conforms to the American Century. ...

Appendix: Foreign-Controlled and Progressive Dioceses in Peru

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pp. 240-243


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pp. 244-283

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 284-299

Index [Includes About the Author, List of other works in series, and Back Cover]

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pp. 300-315

E-ISBN-13: 9780268079703
E-ISBN-10: 0268079706
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268029050
Print-ISBN-10: 0268029059

Page Count: 328
Illustrations: No e-rights for images; maps O.K. to use.
Publication Year: 2011