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date: 29 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The Catholic Church was one of the most important institutions of colonial Latin America; yet, it is poorly understood by many scholars. This chapter outlines the important features of the Catholic Church both from the point of view of institutional structure and the impact of these on the society at large. While generally considered a monolithic institution, the Church consisted of many disparate and often competing units. The clergy itself was divided between those who were members of religious orders and communities and those who were directly under the administrative control of bishops and archbishops. The Church also touched the life of nearly every resident of the colonies, from baptism until death. The Church also had an important impact on the finances of the colonies. In short, this study looks at the broad scope of the actions and activities of the Catholic Church in colonial Latin America.

Keywords: Catholic Church, clergy, priest, nun, Inquisition, evangelization, mission, Christianity

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