Liberation Theology

What is the Church’s stance toward “Liberation Theology”?

That’s a loaded question, because what exactly is “Liberation Theology”? At one end of the spectrum it is non-Christian or Marxist, and at the other end - I think - very Franciscan.

I just read a book on Liberation Theology for Armchair Theologians. Very informative, but certainly biased. He talks in part of the “Pope’s henchman - Cardinal Ratzinger”. Well that immediately gets me to doubt the fairness of the author.

Anyway what are your thoughts on what “liberation theology” means, particularly the way that Pope Francis appears to be defining it - if at all.

God Bless,


Just found this thread from an apologist. It seems to discount much of it:

But there is a link, so I better go to it and read it.

Still interested in your thoughts, good or bad.

If you think liberation theology is bad for using Marxist language, let me tell you about this Dominican friar who relies on that pagan Aristotle.

The real problem with liberation theology was not the use of Marxist language (which isn’t a sin or even necessarily wrong, Karl Marx was not a robot that produced false statements, and much of Catholic social thought is Marxian influenced, whether you like it or not, including John Paul II’s social ethics), but with the rampant disobedience and schismatic attitudes in the base communities.

Cardinal Ratzinger did criticize the use of Marxist language, of course. But the alternative liberation theology he proposed was just as radical.

It’s against, although Archbishop Mueller’s support for “liberation theology” (what he means by that isn’t clear) makes everything a bit more blurry.

I am no right wing extremist, as I completely believe in the social teachings of the Church, but please provide citations supporting this rather bizarre assertion. And what exactly is “Marxian,” and how does it differ from “Marxist”? :juggle:

It’s not a bizarre assertion at all if you understand Marx beyond the American caricature of Marx. It’s well documented that John Paul II’s social ethics and anthropology is heavily influenced by Marx, especially in the emphasis on the centrality of labor to human life. One of the Jesuits who drafted Quadragesimo Anno was also strongly influenced by Marx.

Marxian means influenced by Marx.

Marxism is a historical theory that emphasizes dialectical materialism and historical determinism. It is absolutely not a synonym for communism or socialism and there are numerous anti-Marxists communists (such as Peter Kropotkin and Mikhail Bakunin) and anti-Marxist socialists (such as Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Benjamin Tucker).

Marxists are those who accept the premises of Marxism and seek to further the revolution that Marx predicted would occur to end capitalism. Marx was not the sole theorist of his time, it’s also heavily influenced by the ideas of Friedrich Engels, and he did not consider himself a Marxist. There are numerous variants of Marxist thought, and some have as much to do with each other as apples and oranges.

Of course, there are elements of Marxist thought that are irreconcilable with Catholic thought, but this nonsense about everything Marx said automatically being wrong has to stop.

I fully realize that Americans tend to caricature Marx (just as Europeans and others caricature American thought–this is, after all, human nature). However, you have offered no specific documentation at all to suggest that Catholic social teaching is influenced by Marxism. Pope Leo XIII taught the first identifiable social teaching in 1891 with Rerum Novarum, which is based on Thomistic Catholic understanding of natural law, and the writings of German bishop Wilhelm Emmanuel von Ketteler of the era–the closest that one could say that socialism came to the Church’s teachings, and this was certainly not Marxism. Pope Pius XI reiterated this in *Quadragesimo Anno *forty years later, as did Blessed John XXIII in *Mater et Magistra *in 1961, this time applying it to the post-WII world and the increasing industrialization in the Third World. Paul VI contributed to this body of teaching in Populorum Progressio in 1967, especially as it relates to developing nations. And, of course, Blessed John Paul II reiterated Leo XIII’s teachings in Centesimus Annus and Paul’s teaching in Sollicitudo rei socialis.

While there naturally are some tenets in these encyclicals that match the priorities of Marx and socialism, they also condemn totalitarianism of any sort, especially communism, which they name. Pius XI even stated that one could not be a Catholic and a true socialist at the same time. Blessed John Paul II was especially clear on condemning socialist extremes, as well as the abuses of extreme capitalism. Pope Francis recently restated the latter in Evangelii Gaudiae.

So again, I respectfully ask, where is Marx in the Church’s teaching, and especially that of Blessed John Paul II? Where do the pontiffs identify Marxism as a partial source of papal teaching? And I mean the pontiffs, not some left-leaning academic whose personal interpretations make this claim?

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