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definition - Roman_Catholicism_in_El_Salvador

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Roman Catholicism in El Salvador

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The Roman Catholic Church in El Salvador is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope and curia in Rome. There are almost five million Catholics in El Salvador. The country is divided into eight dioceses including one archdiocese, San Salvador. The Constitution explicitly recognizes the Roman Catholic Church and it has legal status.

Despite its legal status, Catholicism in El Salvador has been in decline for the last 17 years with the most devout members above age 53. However, the religion remains a majority in all age groups, [1] although it is a slim majority among the young. Catholicism is most dominant in the San Vicente Department and weakest in Santa Ana.


History and society

Catholicism began in the nation in the sixteenth century with the invasion by Pedro de Alvarado. San Salvador was made an archdiocese on February 11, 1913 with Monsignor Antonio Adolfo Perez as first Archbishop. Prior to that date it had been under the jurisdiction of Guatemala. Archbishop Luis Chávez y González from 1939 to 1977 encouraged priests to study farming cooperatives and made efforts toward improving the poorest sectors of El Salvador [2] (although in other respects he was a conservative who favored film censorship[3], staunchly opposed Communism[4], and was devoted to Pope Pius XII).

The governments have had a mixed relationship with the Catholic Church varying from friendly to anti-clerical. The most overtly Catholic-influenced political party might be the Partido Demócrata Cristiano with José Napoleón Duarte as one of its most noted founding members. The dealings of the government with the Catholic Church or Catholic organizations varied depending on the leadership of church or state at any given time. In modern times El Salvador is noted for having members linked to social and reform movements. At times these include followers of what's termed Liberation theology. The most well-known figure in the El Salvadoran church's history is Archbishop of San Salvador Óscar Romero. On March 24, 1980, during the civil war in El Salvador he was assassinated while performing his mass because of his positions regarding the government and demands to the end of the violence in the nation. In 2004 the Church in El Salvador asked for a reinvestigation of the case. [5] A federal judge trying a conspiracy count against a former Salvadoran military officer termed Romero's killing "a crime against humanity."

Despite that, most of the church in El Salvador is more conservative than this [6] and had no sympathy to the rebels during the civil war. Fernando Sáenz Lacalle, originally of Opus Dei, is the current Archbishop of San Salvador. He is in general an opponent of Liberation theology and his appointment in 1995 was viewed with disdain by followers of that school of thought. [7] He has been active in charitable work for earthquake victims [8] and outspoken against violence. [9]


Diocesan Priests441
Religious Priests236
Total priests677
Priests per capita1 in 5,689[10]
Permanent deacons40
Males in other Religious Orders410
Females in religious life1,491
total number of servers || 2,564,869,104

Culture and festivals

A variety of saint days are celebrated as local holidays.[11] The country itself is called "El Salvador" which translates as "The Savior" and takes the Transfigured Jesus, the Divine Savior of the World, as its patron saint, and His Feast Day on August 6 is a national holiday. The nation's co-patronness is Our Lady of Peace.

A noted Catholic school is the Jesuit-run Externado San José whose alumni include ex-president Armando Calderón Sol and Roque Dalton, a Communist poet. A prominent seminary is San José de la Montaña in San Salvador where both Romero and liberation theologian Rutilio Grande studied.


  1. ^ International Religious Freedom Report 2005, US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; 8 November 2005
  2. ^ El Salvador: The Role of Religion, Nov 1988
  3. ^ La Prensa archive
  4. ^ Iglesia cr
  5. ^ Church call over Salvador murder, BBC, 8 September 2004
  6. ^ El Salvador: The Roman Catholic Church, Nov 1988
  7. ^ Report from El Salvador, Fundacion Flor de Izote, April 17-April 24, 1995
  8. ^ Anglican Recognition No Effect On Romero's Cause, Archbishop Says, Catholic World News, 21 October 1997
  9. ^ Archbishop calls on Salvadorans to collaborate in eradication of violence, Catholic News Agency, 15 August 2006
  10. ^ 1 priest for every 5689 Catholics if the State Department is correct that the population is 57.1% Catholic.[citation needed]
  11. ^ El Salvador.org

External links


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