The survey of the Catholic Church’s relationship to revolutionary movements by Houtart and Rousseau has little interest for Latin Americanists. Their book is a sketchy, second-hand account of such widely-scattered events as the French Revolution, Marxist theory, South African apartheid, the Cuban Revolution, the 1968 riots in France, and the war in Vietnam. The authors’ only organizing principles are opposition to the “established violence” of traditional society, a belief in the need for revolution, and “the conviction that Christianity does contain a message which is valid for the whole of mankind in search of liberation.” Their ideological commitment to reconciling Christianity and Marxism, to “baptising” Mao Tse-tung and Fidel Castro, does not lead to very good history.

The fifty-odd pages of their book that deal with Latin America suffer severely from compression. It is hardly possible to say anything meaningful about the political and religious situation in the Dominican Republic in a single paragraph, or to sum up the social crisis in tormented Uruguay in three sentences. More extended passages, dealing with Cuba and Colombia, swarm with errors. Hardly a single name is set down correctly: Antonio Guiteras becomes “Guitera,” Bishop Pérez Serantes is “Servantes,” and President Prío Socorrás turns into “Rio Jocarrás.” The authors’ interpretation of the Cuban Revolution is similarly inaccurate and lacking in insight; after the appearance of Hugh Thomas’s magisterial Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom, we have less need than ever for yet another “once-over-lightly” account. Camilo Torres, the Colombian priest-rebel-martyr, is praised for his determination “to continue the struggle for man’s liberation now and in the future within the framework of the Church,” but the authors have nothing significant or enlightening to say about his life and death.

Karl Schmitt’s The Roman Catholic Church in Modern Latin America, the newest in the Knopf Latin America series, is a much briefer and better book. In an introductory essay the author analyzes the nineteenth-century Church-State struggles over fueros, Church property, toleration of non-Catholic activities, and State control, and compares them with the more recent issues of social justice, reform, and revolution. Where Schmitt deals with the same questions raised by Houtart and Rousseau, he is clearly better informed, more accurate, and more dispassionate.

The rest of his book, as with most of the Knopf series, is a collection of articles. Three deal with 19th century Church-State questions in Peru, Mexico, and Brazil. Five more, among them Camilo Torres’s call to revolution in Colombia, Archbishop Hélder Pessoa Câmara’s claim that “the whole world is in need of a structural revolution,” and Ivan Illich’s attack on the U. S. missionary as a “colonial power’s lackey chaplain,” are concerned with the Church’s role in a period of rapid social change. The last two articles are sociological studies of changes within the Church itself as it confronts new circumstances in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, and Mexico. Professor Schmitt’s selection of issues, and of articles to illuminate them, is intelligent and sensible. His book is a useful introduction to the subject with which it deals, and could be profitably used as a basis for discussion inside the classroom and out of it.