Community and Religion, a Close Relationship in Argentine Neighborhoods

Written by
Rate this item
(1 Vote)

In Argentina the interaction between political activism and religiousness has an interesting exchange. Inside the villas, many people gather to discuss what’s happening in their community and they do it in a specific place that could be surprising from someone outside the country: churches. 

Yes, churches in Argentina and especially in deprived neighborhoods, like the villas, are spaces where the community can speak freely and share ideas about what they want to organize in terms of politics and social activities. All of this is possible thanks to los curas villeros, priests that belong to these areas and who aside from preaching their religion, also advocate for justice and equality, representing the community.

This interesting relationship arose in the sixties when Argentine priests of the catholic church formed a movement called Movimiento de Sacerdotes para el Tercer Mundo, in which they decided to move to the villas and start helping the vulnerable communities with their basic needs and everyday struggles. Carlos Mugica was its main advocate and to this day is considered as the one who paved the road for the upcoming priests that continue with his legacy. He was murdered in 1974 after delivering mass in Villa Luro. It is believed that he was killed by La Triple A, a parapolicial organization of extreme right views.

Since then, it has become a normality in las villas to associate their churches with active work and support for their causes. This intersection between religion and politics, that in many cases could only bring problems, has on the contrary, created a positive atmosphere for the community. A strong social and political participation is vital for deprived neighborhoods since they can’t rely on many tools to prosper and who often times feel forgotten by society or abandoned by the government.

The cura villero is perceived then, both as a spiritual guide and as a political leader. Neighbors see churches as a refuge where they can pray and feel protected by god but also as a place where they can fight for their rights. The priest becomes a person from the community, a neighbor, another human who makes them feel like they matter, like they are the ones who shine in the spotlight.

It's important to mention that many of the members of this movement were peronists and that some of them joined revolutionary guerrillas. El Movimiento de Sacerdotes para el Tercer Mundo was dissolved due to the State terrorism that the country went through in the seventies during the military dictatorship. In fact, Pope Francis is a great supporter of the curas villeros and in various occasions he has identified himself as a one of them. He himself had to face repression and threats during the dictatorship when he worked as jesuit in Buenos Aires. 

Once you get immersed in the Argentine culture and you witness first hand how politics has impacted its people, you understand this curious dynamic between religion and political activism. If you think of a country where everyone, even priests, were silenced and stripped of their rights to share not only their religion but their political views, it’s not so ludicrous to think of churches as political centers for the communities where everyone gets to speak out and find a way to let the State know that they exist and won’t be silenced ever again.





Read 1892 times

Related items

Interview with Lena, Volunteer at the Kindergarten

Volunteer Lena, from New Zeland, share with us her volunteering experience in the kindergarten and tells us what she's learned living in the city of Buenos Aires.

Racism hasn’t Ended in South America, It has Grown

With the recent political manifestations in Bolivia that have polarized the country into two different bands, the ones that support and don’t support Evo Morales, racism between indigenous and non indigenous people has come to light in the country. Here’s a reflexion about this issue that can help us reflect about the ongoing racism towards our tribes and the indigenous people of our continent. 


Meet Udo and Manu, our new volunteers from Germany!

Udo and Manu are our most recent volunteers from Germany. While they are currently studying, they decided to take some time off school to come to Argentina and help its locals by volunteering with us. We talked to them about their current experience with us and made them a few questions. Here’s what they had to say.

It's NOT a Resignation, it's a Coup!

After learning about the coup d’etat against president Evo Morales, the social organizations of Argentina stand up to defend democracy and peace in our continent.  Voluntario Global and Pacheco Community marched in solidarity with the Bolivian people who have worked hard to build a sovereign country based on social justice.

Argentina without Hunger

Brief reflection of the Pacheco Community on the document "Argentina sin hambre".

Let's Talk about Communitary Health!

This week we participated in a health workshop at one of our projects in José León Suárez where some of the members of Pacheco Community and two doctors that work in health centers of the outskirts of Buenos Aires, talked about the importance of building the concept of health from our community. 

Planet Earth is in Emergency and the Youth of Argentina Marches for its Future

In Argentina, thousands of people also joined this global strike and we walked from Plaza de Mayo to Congress to support and witness this important event.

Four-week Language Immersion Study Trip to England

This is an opportunity to maximize your English language skills by means of an immersion study trip.

Login to post comments


Voluntario Global helps local communities by being available to discuss anything that local organizations need, and offering ideas for further change and development.


Location: General Pacheco. Buenos Aires. Argentina
Email: jfranco@voluntarioglobal.org

© Copyright 2016 luppino.com.ar