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By Dermot Keogh (eds.)

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One end of the spectrum is held down by liberation theology and a 'radical ideal' of base Christian communities which makes them central to the construction of a new order in society, politics, and culture. 14 The confrontation of key episcopal conferences like Brazil or Chile with national security states reinforces this group. The other end of the spectrum takes form with the change of command in CELAM, and the turn of key Catholic institutions to critical stances on marxism and politics. The whole process comes together around the time of Puebla and the Nicaraguan revolution.

24. 25. 26. 27. 23 Colombie (9 April 1948). Fonctions socia/es et fonctionement de /'institution catholique (Paris, 1981), 334 p. (third year thesis, Ecole des hautes etudes en sciences sociales). Charles Conlacines, Chili. L'Eglise catholique (1958-1976) (Paris: L'Harmattan, 1977) 274 p. Vicaria de Ia Solidaridad del Arzobispado de Santiago de Chile (which published the Bulletin Solidaridad). Can one then speak of a 'disintegration of the Catholic ideological block' or suppose that this integration was more apparent than profound?

In turn, the CEBs have opened the way to new kinds of practice. These are generally small, socially homogeneous groups (mostly poor people) which meet regularly to read and discuss the bible, and to reflect on community life and problems from this perspective. Their normal practice encourages self-expression, sharing and solidarity, and active participation in the collective affairs of daily life. Both liberation theology and CEBs gain added political salience from the conjunctures in which they emerge.

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