Over the past two decades, the Catholic Church in Latin America has sought to resolve a crisis which reverberates all the way back to the Vatican. Already by the late 1950s, growing difficulties in clerical recruitment and the decline in lay participation indicated something was amiss. The swelling ranks of the poor and the sharpening of social inequities had created conditions ripe for social upheaval, but the Church appeared dangerously removed from the vast majority of its constituents—the poor and the destitute. In his encyclicals, Pope John XXIII astutely redirected the Church's attention to the world's poor, setting the stage for Vatican II during his papacy. An outgrowth of Vatican II, the 1968 Latin American Bishops' Conference in Medelín, Colombia, inspired many within the Church to focus their energy on alleviating injustice and oppression. Nowhere was the need for action more urgent, than in Central America.