SUAREZ Ana Lourdes
congresos y reuniones científicas
Argentinean Catholic nuns living in the poor urban margins
Congreso; Annual Meeting de la Association for Sociology of Religion; 2017
Institución organizadora:
Association for the Sociology of Religion
Argentinean Catholic nuns living in the poor urban marginsAfter Vatican II part of Latin America Catholic Church renovation meant assuming what came to be known as ?the preferential option for the poor?. Many religious congregations (particularly female ones) began to renew their structures, updated expressions of their charismas, and radically changed the way they faced their ministry: not only did they put their houses where poor people live, but working among and for the poor came to be their principle objective. This option meant for many of them a strong renewal that challenged their role both in society and in the Catholic Church. The first part of the paper analyzes the stages, structure and fields of action of Argentinean nuns since the beginning of the 19th century (when most of the congregations arrived to Argentina ?coming mainly from European countries-). It analyzes the numerical growth, with its peak in the 1950s, and its constant decline since then until present days. It describes the difficulties female religious life is facing at present in sustaining structures (schools, pensions, etc.), the different ways in which they are facing their numerical decline, and how they are making sense of their social and pastoral role as nuns.The second part of the paper focuses on female religious congregations living in Buenos Aires poor areas. It tracks, based on in-depth interviews, the trajectory of nuns living at present in Buenos Aires slums; it discusses what this radical option meant both for them and for slums inhabitants. It analyses how this option framed their identity as consecrated people, their spiritual approach, and their understanding of popular religiosity. It also analyzes the social and cultural activities that they developed; why and how many of them started promoting concrete actions to improve the community´s life, particularly women´s life. Based on different research methods I try to understand how they influence the life of these women and communities. The paper concludes analyzing present challenges faced by these nuns.