The challenges of Latin America today

Sunday 10 April 2005

The head of an international development charity working for justice and the eradication of poverty will deliver a lecture at the University of St Andrews today (Monday 11th April 2005).

Christine Allen, Director of the Catholic Institute for International Relations (CIIR), will lecture on the subject of religion in Latin America, in memory of the assassinated Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero.

Ms Allen will deliver the inaugural Oscar Romero Memorial Lecture at the University’s recently established Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics (CSRP). The special lecture, funded by the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund, marks the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Romero.

The series of lectures named in honour of Archbishop Romero was established to address critical issues facing the developing world and the response of the churches. Dr Allen’s lecture will cover a range of issues pertinent to Latin America, where the CIIR has been working for over 30 years. She will also explore the challenges facing Latin America today and the lessons learned from Archbishop Romero’s life and ministry.

Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated while celebrating mass on 25th March 1980 after years of defending the poor and the politically persecuted of El Salvador in Central America. His figure became central to the religious and cultural identity of Latin America and his statue in Westminster Abbey sits alongside other great figures of the 20th Century.

Christine Allen became Director of the CIIR in June 2001, prior to which she worked for more than ten years in the area of housing, poverty and social exclusion. She has a degree in International Relations and Philosophy and an MSc in Voluntary Sector Organisation from the LSE, the department now know as Centre for Civil Society. She has close contact with grass roots church activity for peace and justice, working closely with the Justice and Peace network, and has just recently visited Latin America.

The CIIR work in partnership with civil groups and governments in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia, the UK and Europe, working towards the strengthening of community-based organisations that represent the interests of the poor and improve their quality of life. Their advocacy work includes gender and ethnicity, peace and conflict, HIV and Aids and sustainable environment.

Dr Mario Aguilar, Director of CSRP, will Chair the lecture. He said: “Within an increasing climate of globalisation and international cooperation issues of poverty, under-development and human suffering have become ever more important in our current and future understanding of a global society.

“The Romero lectures will allow Scotland to be at the centre of that interchange between religion and politics, between Scotland and Latin America. The lecturers will be chosen because of their current involvement with those issues and because of the influence that the figure of Oscar Romero has had on their own work, their own thought, and their own writings”.

“The Challenges of Latin America Today”, the inaugural Oscar Romero Memorial Lecture by Christine Allen, will take place on 11 April 2005, at 5.15pm at Parliament Hall, South Street, St. Andrews. The lecture is open to the public.

Weblinks: CSRP


Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews Contact Gayle Cook, Press Officer on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email gec3@st- Ref: Challenges of Latin America 080405 View the latest University press releases at

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