liberal reforms, Protestant sects, theology of liberation, separation of church, Catholic clergy
The country is traditionally Roman Catholic, and 91 percent of the population is Catholic. Evangelical Protestant groups have grown rapidly in recent years, and Protestants now number an estimated 8 percent of the population.
The Catholic clergy traditionally played important roles in political and economic affairs until liberal reforms in the late 19th century led to separation of church and state and to a reduced role for the church. During the past 25 years, however, the “theology of liberation,” which emphasizes social and economic justice for the poor, became a major force in Salvadoran Catholicism. Both foreign and native clergy worked to involve the urban and rural poor in political efforts to protect their rights and improve their lives. Catholic archbishops often were mediators between the state and guerrilla forces in the recent civil war. The newer, Protestant sects, on the other hand, have been more conservative politically and less involved directly in the political turmoil. However, there is a small Unity Movement political party based among the Evangelicals.
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