Article Title

La Parroquia Urbana


Benjamín Bravo

Document Type



This article examines the impact of increasing, mass urbanization in the Americas on the structures, functions and modalities of parish communities as a focal point of local churches. Addressing the contention of some pastoral practitioners and theoreticians that models of parish with their origins in rural settings have outlived their usefulness, this study begins with an analysis of the phenomenon of urbanization itself. Assessing such factors as population, public services, industrialization, cultural diversity, tolerance, territorial and social mobility and participation in democratic processes, the essay turns to consider the urban parish itself as the Church's response to the realities of the urban contexts that are claiming an ever-larger share of its attention in the Americas. This consideration begins with the postconciliar understanding of the Church as communio, and takes into account the relationship between the universal Church and particular churches, of which the urban parish (in its various configurations) is an expression. Considering canonical and theological issues around leadership in urban parishes, this essay explores new initiatives and models for the parish that respond to the new pressures of the urban settings in which Christians gather. The author concludes the urban parish is by no means doomed to disappear, provided that models for parish structure, ministry and leadership remain responsive to the complex coordinates of urban life.