Reformation New Spain
Era of Reform

The colonial sphere and arena of Roman Catholic evangelism in the Americas.

Church of St. James, Mexico City

The planting of Roman Catholicism in what would come to be known as Latin America began in earnest with the arrival of Hernando Cortez in Mexico in 1519 and of Francisco Pizarro in Peru in 1532. Hispanic Roman Catholicism resembled the reforming Catholicism of the Iberian peninsula in the sixteenth century. It was Spanish in temper, Tridentine in theology, and strictly subordinated to the interests of the state. Jesuit, Franciscan, and Dominican missionaries, however, each introduced their own accents. Jesuits were remarkable here as elsewhere for their devotion to the papacy. All three Orders attempted to contain native populations in enclosed missionary villages in order to protect the native population from the oppressive and exploitative behavior of Spanish colonists. The Dominican Bartolomé de Las Casas emerged as the most formidable champion of the native populations.

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Photo - Corel. Used by permission.