The term "Liberation Theology"
refers to a
movement that began mainly in Latin America within the Catholic Church
in the 1950's and 1960's. It was...and is...designed to address
the massive unjust and un-Christian disparity between obscene wealth
and abject poverty in the world - most clearly demonstrated in highly
Catholic Latin American countries where a tiny group of people control
nearly all of the land and the wealth. It was and is designed to
place the Catholic Church in the forefront of efforts, beginning at the
grassroots levels, to seek reform and justice, especially through land
reform. It received strong support from Pope John XX111 and Vatican
Council 11, notably through the Pope Encyclical entitled "Gaudium et Spes".
But this initiative was immediately attacked by conservatives within
the Church, as were many of the initiatives of the Vatican Council and
its Cardinals...attacks that continue to this day. Notable among
those attacks was the position expressed in 1984 by the then Prefect of
the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger -
now our Pope. He declared it to be simply based upon Marxist
doctrine and to be shunned. I remember being personally
scandalized in the late 1980's when then Pope John Paul 11 closed the
Church door on the Latin clergy's efforts in Liberation Theology on
behalf of its desperately poor people, an action that seemed totally
counter-intuitive to me as being un-Christian.
Unfortunately, things have not changed...neither in the barrios of
Latin America nor in the halls of the Hierarchy, immersed in an
excessively conservative posture regarding the world today. A
recent statement by Pope Benedict XVI, posted below in its turgid
prose, gives no hope for change in this posture, guaranteeing that "the poor will always be with us"
and without effective help from Jesus' Church. GS
ZENIT, The world seen from Rome
Pope Urges Brazil to Get Past Liberation Theology
Cites Document From His Time Leading Doctrinal Congregation
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Communities in Brazil still
need to get past the divisions caused by Marxist liberation theology,
Benedict XVI says.
The Pope encouraged Brazilian bishops to help heal the wounds left by
the materialist theology when he spoke with them Saturday. The bishops
-- from Brazil's South 3 and South 4 regions -- were in Rome for their
The Holy Father recalled that last August was the 25th anniversary of
the instruction "Libertatis Nuntius," a document he signed as prefect
of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The statements notes how there are many currents of "theology of
liberation," as liberation is one of the central messages of
Revelation, both in the Old as well as the New Testament.
However, one of these, particularly in the last three decades of the
20th century, took Marxism as its base in an attempt to understand the
complex and sometimes scandalous social reality of Latin America. That
current became known as Marxist theology of liberation -- many times
simply, though erroneously, called liberation theology.
As the Pope explained to the Brazilian bishops, "its more or less
visible consequences, made up of rebellion, division, disagreement,
offense and anarchy can still be felt, creating great suffering in your
diocesan communities and a serious loss of living energies."
"I implore all those who, in some way, have felt attracted, involved
and touched in their interior by certain deceitful principles of
liberation theology to take up again that document, receiving the
gentle light that it offers with open hands," the Bishop of Rome
Citing Pope John Paul II, Benedict XVI explained how Marxist philosophy
cannot underly the Church's faith, but rather, "the unity that the
Spirit has put between sacred Tradition, sacred Scripture and the
magisterium of the Church in such a reciprocity that the three cannot
subsist in an independent way."
He concluded with the wish that "forgiveness offered and received, in
the ambit of ecclesial organizations and communities, in the name of
and out of love for the Most Holy Trinity, which we adore in our
hearts, put an end to the suffering of the beloved Church that journeys
in the lands of the holy cross."