Maritain Political Thought in Twentieth Century Latin America- 1996.

The Impact of Jacques Maritain Political Thought in Twentieth Century Latin America Why Maritain still matters to Latin America

Maritain’s friendships seemed very often not to be driven by ideological motives. His admiration and love for people so different from him in education and character, such as Leon Bloy, Henri Bergson, Jean Cocteau, Saul Alinski, or Eduardo Frei suggests that the French philosopher would rather gaze at other people’s hearts rather than look for allies in cultural warfare.  He was, and, became one of the most important thinkers in shaping one of the most influential political movements in Latin America: the Christian Democratic movement.  Indeed, the difficult association between Christianity and politics led to particularly acute struggles in Latin America at the beginning of the 19th century. Since then, the region has been divided by conservatism and liberalism, two seemingly irreconcilable ideologies that have added to the difficulty of achieving a balanced relationship between politics and religion. As a result, innumerable revolts, revolutions and civil wars have occurred all across Latin America, from the days of independence until the first half of the 20th century.
Thus, between  1930s and 1940s, a new generation decided to adopt and—above all—to adapt the political thought of the French philosopher, Jacques Maritain. These leaders such as the Brazilian Alceu Amoroso Lima, the Chilean Eduardo Frei Montalva, the Venezuelan Rafael Caldera and the Paraguayan Secundino Núñez became the founding fathers of many Latin American Christian Democratic parties later. They believed that Maritain’s political thought was the most useful intellectual tool for healing the schism between conservatives and liberals in Latin America. Maritain’s views were seen as a means to the creation of a Latin American democratic thought that did not reject Catholic tradition.

Today, at the beginning of the Twenty-first century, Maritain thought still matter. The fact that most of the new Latin American democracies  have become more individualistic, materialistic, secular, and hostile to transcendental values makes Maritainismo seem an alternative again.  Men and women in our times, as Maritain suggested at another time, needs signs and deeds. People are asking for something more than a decorative religion. Above all, people are thirsty for tangible signs to reveal to them the reality of things divine The  faith must be an actual faith, practical and living

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