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He was captured and executed by liberal forces in The Mexican revolution of brought about more conflict for the Catholic church: The crackdown inspired another uprising — this time the Catholic insurgency known as the Cristero rebellion. The uprising left a shortage of priests, but a faithful following, who fashioned a homespun religion, practiced in private, of praying the rosary, venerating the virgin and their chosen saints, and baptizing their children, though not attending mass or receiving the sacraments.

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Social commitment is often lacking in modern Mexican Catholicism, he said: Politicians seem anxious to appear with the pope, too, suggesting that the political class needs the church to bolster its popular appeal amid a string of scandals and desperately low popularity ratings. It speaks, what is more, out of a tradition which shaped the moral and cultural values of the western world. And because it is politically and nationally independent, it can ask questions of society that others are not prepared to ask, and speak for those deprived of a voice.

The Church as an international actor With more than 1.

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In Africa the Church runs a quarter of all the hospitals and provides around 12 million school places each year. Globally, it runs more than 5, hospitals, 17, dispensaries, and 15, homes for the elderly, along with tens of thousands of schools. It is the only religion with a diplomatic corps. But then, the Church is a uniquely significant institution. Worldwide, the Church is a crucial backer of the Millennium Development Goals MDGs and tireless promoter of debt cancellation and other forms of financial aid to the developing world.

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The Holy See plays a crucial role in disarmament negotiations and arms trade treaties; in campaigning against the death penalty worldwide; in negotiating the release of hostages; and in conflict resolution. These are the kinds of initiatives which Vatican diplomats are engaged in every day — but which are seldom reported. Vatican or Holy See? Vatican City is a small if magnificent area in Rome recognised as a state as a result of the Lateran Pacts. But this is to confuse two different things: The diplomatic ties which the UK and other states maintain with the Catholic Church worldwide were not and are not contingent in any way upon that Lateran Pact.

The Holy See is the seat of governance of the worldwide Catholic Church. It has international sovereign jurisdiction, meaning that it is recognised as a legal entity, with which governments have relations.

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This sovereignty is what enables, for example, the bishop of a local diocese to be appointed by the Vatican, rather than by the local government. Much of what the Holy See achieves worldwide — the result of bringing its moral authority and global presence to bear on countries to help effect change — is possible because of this sovereign international jurisdiction.

It means that countries can have formal diplomatic ties with it — just under states do — which in turn means that the Catholic Church can exert its moral influence to make the world a better place. The Holy See has had a continuous history as an organisation since the fourth century, which makes it older than most nation-states.

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Nor is that relationship one restricted to Catholic countries. They demonstrate commitment in countless other ways.

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Practising Catholics play a disproportionately large role in voluntary organisations, welfare agencies and education, and are more likely than the general population to volunteer in every age group. The Catholic charitable sector in the UK is a massive contributor to the common good of the nation, conspicuous at the sharp edge of society, caring for those whom society has either left behind or scorns: Catholics reach out to the poorest and most vulnerable irrespective of their beliefs: Others remain preserves of the Church. No organisation compares with the Apostleship of the Sea, which provides support and assistance to , seafarers visiting British ports each year.

Although ultimately inspired by the Gospel — not least the parable of the Good Samaritan and Matthew 25 —most of these charities are directly motivated by the example of a charismatic founder, often a saint. They grow directly out of civil society rather than as a creation of the state , and frequently depend on and work through parishes and schools, galvanising the energies and passions of networks of volunteers.

Members of the St Vincent de Paul Society of England and Wales, for example, spend 1 million hours each year attending to the socially excluded. Even though some charities, especially the larger ones, also take public money, they do so far less, on the whole, than other charities: Finally, they are guided by a coherent set of principles, embodied in Catholic Social Teaching, which in turn enrich British social and political thinking and strengthen civil society.

Through CSAN and other nationwide organisations, Catholic charities advocate on behalf of those they serve, influencing policy decisions and helping to shape laws which serve the interests of the poor. Through its global membership of Caritas Internationalis among other bodies, it has access to decision-makers in Brussels, the United Nations, and other international organisations. The predominance of Labour reflects the historical identification of working-class Irish immigrants with the party most British Catholics are originally from Labour districts although Catholics no longer vote Labour en bloc.

The conference secretariat is frequently invited to comment on forthcoming legislation. Lines of communication are kept open between 10 Downing Street and the Archbishop of Westminster.

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There is nothing odd or sinister about this. Many large organisations which lay claim to a significant influence over sectors of public opinion — trade unions, faiths, business associations, and so on — are regularly consulted by Government, make representations to Government, and can expect to be listened to when laws are being formulated that could affect the lives of the people these organisations represent. It would be a very poor and authoritarian government which regarded its electoral majority as a mandate to govern without consultation.

In he earned the Aaron Wildavsky Award for the best dissertation in religion and politics, awarded by the Religion and Politics section of the American Political Science Association. Politics in the Parish. Jelen, and Mark J. Rozell, series editors Reviews "Smith's book is informative, well-researched, and readable. It should find its way into the libraries of all serious scholars of the role of religion in politics. Smith successfully shows that, even when Catholic clergy lack a direct impact on political behavior, they can and do have subtle effects on political attitudes among parishioners.

Through theoretical insight and richness of detail, this book will undoubtedly generate further reflection on the nature and scope of clergy political witness at the local level. Smith illuminates the politics of the leadership of America's largest—and perhaps most politically significant—religious tradition. Olson , professor of political science, Clemson University. Table of Contents Introduction 1.