Errázuriz Valdivieso, Crescente (1839–1931)

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Errázuriz Valdivieso, Crescente (1839–1931)

Crescente Errázuriz Valdivieso (b. 1839; d. 1931), archbishop of Santiago, Chile (1918–1931), during a period when the Catholic Church distanced itself from its traditional alliance with the Conservative Party and accepted the separation of church and state.

Born in Santiago, Errázuriz was educated as a diocesan priest but subsequently joined the Dominican Order (1884–1911). Also trained in law, he worked as a journalist directing both El Estandarte Católico and La Revista Católica, and became one of Chile's best-known historians.

In 1918 the seventy-nine-year-old Errázuriz was named archbishop of Santiago after then President Juan Luis Sanfuentes, with the support of the Senate, convinced the Vatican that the appointment was essential for the maintenance of good relations with the new Liberal government. Throughout his term as archbishop, Errázuriz played a major role in the modernization of the Church, as well as the maintenance of its influence with Chilean society. He believed that unless the Church was adaptable, its power would be diminished. He was also concerned about the direct involvement of priests in politics, and in 1922 he issued a decree forbidding it. While Errázuriz did not himself support the separation of church and state, he pragmatically participated in the drafting of the relevant parts of the 1925 Constitution that mandated it. This document ended government involvement in the appointment of priests, as well as state subsidies for church purposes.

See alsoCatholic Church: The Modern Period; Chile, Constitutions.


Brian H. Smith, The Church and Politics in Chile: Challenges to Modern Catholicism (1982).

Hannah W. Stewart-Gambino, The Church and Politics in the Chilean Countryside (1992).

Additional Bibliography

Krebs, Ricardo. La Iglesia de América Latina en el siglo XIX. Santiago, Chile: Ediciones Universidad Católica de Chile, 2002.

Silva Cuevas, Luis Eugenio. La elección del arzobispo Crescente Errázuriz Valdivieso. Santiago: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 1989.

                                    Margaret E. Crahan