Written from a political and historical perspective, this book addresses the treatment of poverty by the Catholic Church from the beginning of the industrial revolution--about 1800--to the present. Its emphasis is on the Third World, particularly Latin America. Werner Levi studies the Church's differing approaches to dealing with the problem of poverty and the political consequences these approaches have had upon the relations between the Vatican and regional governments. The book also focuses on the controversy surrounding Liberation Theology, as both poverty and Liberation Theology play a large part in Latin American politics.By comparing broadly similar situations of poverty in 19th century Europe and 20th century Latin America, Levi reaches the conclusion that, in its reluctance to go beyond rhetoric in dealing with poverty, the church may lose the loyalty of its Third World constituency in much the same way as it lost the loyalty of the labor movement in the 19th century. The book examines Pope John Paul II's progressivism in dealing with poverty and the similarities between the socialist leanings of the Pope's speeches and the Liberation Theologian's writings. Levi points out, however, that the Pope's progressivism is not shared by the Vatican officialdom. This thought provoking, well researched book will appeal to students and scholars of theology and church history, as well as political scientists and sociologists dealing with religion and the social problem of poverty.