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Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review


published on September 1, 2016

Massimo Introvigne

Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) and the Heralds of The Gospel
The Religious Economy of Brazilian Conservative Catholicism

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira (1908–1995) was a leading figure in Latin American conservative Catholicism. In 1960, he founded the Brazilian Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP), which quickly expanded internationally and played a significant role in conservative Catholicism during and after the Second Vatican Council. In the 1970s and 1980s, TFP was often in conflict with liberal Brazilian bishops, while it struggled to define its internal nature and chose between the ecclesial models of either a quasi-religious order or of a secular lay association mostly devoted to political issues. This struggle, after Corrêa de Oliveira’s death in 1995, led to a bitter separation between its two main branches. The Heralds of the Gospel were reorganized as a religious order recognized by the Holy See. The Fundadores (Founders) of the TFP continued as a lay association with a special interest in conservative politics. The pontificate of Pope Francis has led the Fundadores in a direction increasingly critical of the Vatican, while the Heralds of the Gospel remain a religious order within the Catholic Church and have tried to adapt to the agenda and style of the new Pope. This article reconstructs the history of the different organizations tracing their origins to the activities of Corrêa de Oliveira, including the developments after his death, utilizing the framework of the sociological theory of religious economy and of different “niches” in the intra-Catholic religious market.

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