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Uruguay: The Roman Catholic Church
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Political Dynamics > Political Forces and Interest Groups > The Roman Catholic Church


The Roman Catholic Church has had only a minimal role in Uruguay because of a strong anticlerical bias bequeathed by Batlle y Ordóñez. Unlike many other Latin American countries, religion has not interfered in politics to any significant extent. Although 66 percent of the population was nominally Roman Catholic in 1990, less than half were practicing Catholics. The church's main political wing was the PDC, which advocated social transformation through democratic means. In addition, there were numerous lay organizations engaged in enhancing the church's social relevance. These included the Catholic Workers' Circle, Catholic Action, the Christian Democratic Youth Movement, and the Catholic Family Movement. The conservatives had few representatives among the clergy.

The election of Lacalle, a devout Catholic, may have reflected ascending Catholic influence in the nation. Another indicator of rising Catholic influence was the establishment in 1984 of the Catholic University of Uruguay in Montevideo, the country's only private university. However, the limits of Catholic influence in Uruguay were highlighted in early 1986 by the failure of a proposal by Catholic conservatives in theColorado and National parties to ban the film Hail Mary, which the church hierarchy regarded as "pornographic and blasphemous."

Data as of December 1990

Last Updated: December 1990

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Uruguay was first published in 1990. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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