Encyclopedia of Latin American Religions

Living Edition
| Editors: Henri Gooren

Catholic Action

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-08956-0_223-1


Catholic Action was a global lay movement. As an official institution, it was born in the late 1920s and existed in two basic models. It was established in Latin America in the 1930s and 1940s. Here, among other things, it gave rise to liberation theology. After the Second Vatican Council, 1962–1965, Catholic Action’s influence decreased.

The Organization

Catholic Action was established as an official Catholic institution by Pope Pius XI (1922–1939), at a time when the church felt threatened by different currents of ideas and tendencies in the modern world, e.g., communism and secularism, and by various competing religious faith traditions, such as Protestantism and Islam (in Africa). Although the concept “Catholic Action” existed earlier, Pius XI gave it a new and specific meaning in 1927, when he defined it as “the participation of the laity in the apostolate of the Church’s Hierarchy” (Newman 1958: 38). In practice, this meant that Catholic Action was constituted of lay...


Pius XI Lay movement University Students Liberation Theology 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.GothenburgSweden