Intellectual in Flux: the Development of Liberal Catholic Thought in Alceu Amoroso Lima
Delgado, Laura E.
This thesis reinterprets the writings of the Brazilian Catholic intellectual Alceu Amoroso Lima, in particular, his work in the 1930s. A leading Catholic intellectual and one of the most important laymen in the country, Alceu Amoroso Lima became well known for his opposition to the Brazilian dictatorship from 1964-85. The 1930s are a critical era in the development of his beliefs about the Church and social justice; however, he is often characterized as a militant, intolerant conservative during this time. This thesis demonstrates that the 1930s were in fact a crucial moment in the development of the beliefs that would transform him into a famous liberal in the 1960s. His writings of the 1930s contain the genesis of his liberal ideas. These same ideas would become central to international Catholic thought in the development of liberation theology in the 1960s. In Alceu’s philosophical debates over the nature of humanity and society, the Church and politics, several constant themes emerge. First and foremost was his belief in the importance of liberty and justice, and peaceful change as the method to obtain them. Second, he argued for the need for Church intervention into social issues and he initiated a debate over ecclesiology, specifically to what extent the Church should involve itself in temporal affairs. Finally, he stressed the paramount role of education in shaping the laity’s understanding of Church doctrine, believing that a better foundation in Church dogma would prepare them to the face challenges of the modern world.