Catholic Church's Influence On Latin American Eugenics

Good Essays
Eugenics is known for its European presence. It, however, shaped the health care and legal practices of every region of the world, including Latin America. As Nancy Leys Stepan said of its reach in The Hour of Eugenics:
Hardly a single area in Latin America had in fact remained completely untouched by Eugenics by the 1930s.... [The movements] were led by medical doctors in obstetrics, child health, and mental hygiene, and their goals were to propagandize, and apply, the new science of Eugenics rather than to carry out research in heredity and health (Stepan 55).

Latin American Eugenics was unique. Rather than using sterilization and extermination to control its population, it combined Neo-Lamarckism, the idea that changes to one’s environment
…show more content…
Birth control, sterilization, and any other way to control a population, was antithetical to their philosophy. Especially in the predominately Catholic continent of Latin America, a decline in birth rate meant a decline in membership to the Church (“Eugenics”). In fear of this, Pope Pius XI promulgated Casti Connubii in 1930. It banned sterilization, mass-genocide of the unfit, and all methods of birth control: methods which the elites of Latin America encouraged. The encyclical was targeted towards Eugenic “extremists”, such as those in Germany, several other European countries, and the United States, who, because of fascism and increasing secularization, did not end their policies as a result (Kelves …show more content…
Eugenics entered Mexico as puericulture. As early as 1903, La Gaceta Medica de Mexico, the official publication of Mexico’s National Academy of Medicine, published on puericulture. At the beginning of the 20th century, pronatalist reformers, as in the French movement that inspired it, sought to reduce infant mortality, boost population density, establish public clinics, and monitor the development of the population through gathering biomedical statistics. At first, Mexican Eugenics policies were labelled as “social hygiene services” dominated by the School Hygiene Service and Infant Hygiene Service. The First Congress of the Mexican Child, in 1921, consisted of delegates, doctors and nurses, and social engineers from these services (Stern). In Veracruz was the first piece of legislation aimed at the legalization of sterilization, created by Salvador Mendoza in conjunction with the Mexican Eugenics Society. It aimed to give justification for a new Section on Eugenics and Mental Hygiene, which would have focused on hereditary disease, criminality, prostitution, alcoholism, and mental disorders. It legalized the sterilization for “clear cases of idiocy”, the “degenerate mad”, the “incurably ill” and “delinquents.” The law passed marginally at the First Mexican Congress of the

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    intervened in latin america forty one times, directly or indirectly. This amounts to almost twenty one times a century North America has decided to become involved in Latin America's government. One of the most famous occasions of American intervention was during the Cuban revolution. America decided to become involved after Fidel Castro overthrew the dictatorial president Fulgencio Batista. This made America uneasy because while Batista was a corrupt repressive leader he was seen as an American ally. Castro…

    • 291 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    The music found in Latin America is as rich and diverse as the people that reside there. Latin America is comprised of several countries including Mexico and all of those found in Central and South America. Considering all of the countries that contribute to and influence Latin music, one might imagine just how culturally dense the music of Latin America is. With an immense presence of talented artists, Latin American music encompasses a variety of genres and is ever-changing. One group that has…

    • 1386 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    The idea of eugenics was first introduced by Sir Francis Galton, who believed that the breeding of two wealthy and successful members of society would produce a child superior to that of two members of the lower class. This assumption was based on the idea that genes for success or particular excellence were present in our DNA, which is passed from parent to child. Despite the blatant lack of research, two men, Georges Vacher de Lapouge and Jon Alfred Mjoen, played to the white supremacists' desires…

    • 1441 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    The culture of Latin America isn’t just fondly influenced by African roots but the foundation of some countries including the countries of Haiti, Mexico, and Peru. Haitians combine Catholicism with Vodou, a religion in which is cemented in Haitian heritage and can be taken all the way back to Africa. Through this religion their founding fathers found strength, courage, organization, and leadership to free themselves from the French. Before the Haitians revolted they had a Vodou ceremony in which…

    • 595 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    American Eugenics Movement

    • 1915 Words
    • 8 Pages

    The eugenics movement began in the 20th century by a man named Francis Galton. As the cousin of Charles Darwin, Galton believed that eugenics was a moral philosophy to improve humanity by encouraging the ablest and healthiest people to have more children (Carlson). This Galtonian ideal of eugenics is often thought of as positive eugenics. Eugenics can be defined as the outgrowth of human heredity aimed at "improving" the quality of the human stock (Allen and Bird). At the other end of the spectrum…

    • 1915 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    American Eugenics Society

    • 1070 Words
    • 5 Pages

    The roots of eugenics can be traced back to Britain in the early 1880's when Sir Francis Galton generated the term from the Greek word for "well-born". He defined eugenics as the science of improving stock, whether human or animal. According to the American Eugenics Movement, today's study of eugenics has many similarities to studies done in the early 20th century. Back then, "Eugenics was, quite literally, an effort to breed better human beings – by encouraging the reproduction of people with "good"…

    • 1070 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Better Essays

    3.4 The Catholic Church’s View on Mercy and Compassion Pope Francis teaches in his apostolic letter Misericordiae Vultus – ‘Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy’, that Patience and mercy are two words which often go together in the Old Testament to describe God’s nature. His being merciful is concretely demonstrated in his many actions throughout the history of salvation where his goodness prevails over punishment and destruction. ‘He forgives all your iniquity, he heals all your diseases…

    • 1426 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    certain aspects of the Church has evolved, the beliefs about the Eucharist have remained quite constant. The sources from the Fathers of the Church have revealed a lot about the Eucharist, Christ’s presence through the Eucharist, and how the early Church’s Eucharistic service generally went. The primary core belief that surrounded the Eucharist during the time of the early Christian Church was that the bread and the wine were not ordinary. Rather, they were truly Christ’s body and Christ’s blood.…

    • 1116 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Latin people, they called romance peoples. Nevertheless, they influenced by Roman culture, Latin culture are mixing romance culture, and gothic culture.The total amount of the population is 40,000 people because Italy is a small country.Accordingly, in Latin America, people are the mix from Asia, Europe, Africa.And they have a big amount of native group in the…

    • 57 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Better Essays

    When studying the Holocaust, it is critical to understand how the science of eugenics influenced the Nazis, however it is just as important to recognize how the United States influenced eugenics in Germany. Prior to the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany, the Weimar Republic was in an economic depression with uncontrollable inflation. Similar to the American Great Depression, German elitist looked for how they could save their country from complete ruin. The small community of German eugenicists…

    • 1656 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Better Essays