Vatican never condemned liberation theology, Gustavo Gutierrez insists [CWN]

The Peruvian priest who is widely regarded as the founder of liberation theology said that he is pleased with a “change in atmosphere” at the Vatican since the election of Pope Francis, …

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Liberation theology
Liberation theology is the philosophy that Christ is the ‘Liberator’ of the oppressed. It is quasi-catholic theology and a quasi-political movement. A liberal movement that claimed it is founded on the Second Vatican Council, and was widespread in Latin America. It drew it’s adherents from poor and uneducated. Liberation theology is somewhat of a favorite of left leaning Protestants and Catholics alike. The praxis (practice) of Liberation theology is a mix between Marxism and Progressivism.

Liberation theology seems to have gotten its start in the mid 1950’s by the Latin American Episcopal Conference, a Latin American Episcopal Conference (known by the acronym CLEAM). CLEAM leaned heavily on Marxist class warfare and political revolution typical of progressivism. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote a series of notes titled, “Liberation Theology” (preliminary notes to 1984 Instruction) prior to the Instruction on Certain Aspects of the “Theology of Liberation” by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. Liberation theology was taken up in the U.S. by socialist and union worker’s movements along with the communist party and the progressive party. I’ll paraphrase Cardinal Ratzinger’s notes for brevity.

Liberation theology was viewed as a threat to the faith of the Church. Like any effective lie the theology contained some truth which was centered on the liberation of the poor from oppression and poverty. As the Church is the universal truth, Liberation theology is a universal lie. Taking the social ethics from the Church it forms a new hermeneutics of Catholic faith in liturgy, catechesis, and morals. The tenets of Liberation theology appeal to many Christian sects and denominations making the Catholic Church just another Church” as opposed to the one True church of Christ. In fact it tends to erase the theological boundaries between all Church divisions and the secular world resembling more of an ideology than a religion. This ideology is particularly dangerous because it doesn’t fit conventional heresy and those heresies are hidden in double-speak.

Liberation theology takes several forms; the theology of revolution, political theology, as well as a more distinctive liberation theology. Depending on location and leaders the movement morphed from one theology to the next. Rudolf Karl Bultmann’s scientific renderings of Scriptural exegesis was used to separate the historical Jesus from the Christian faith. Thus, “tradition hangs in a vacuum, deprived of reality, while on the other hand, a new interpretation and significance must be sought for the figure of Jesus.” Christ becomes liberator and the ‘ruling class’ becomes the executioners of Christ wherein the Marxist struggle becomes a holy crusade. All scriptural history becomes institutionalized into the Marxist ‘People’ against the establishment, including the Church herself. The ‘people’ of the Church become the antagonist. In the confines of Liberation theology faith, hope and charity take on different concepts, faith becomes fidelity to the movement, Hope becomes confidence in a future victory, and Love coincides becomes an ascent to class struggle.

Remembering that a real “liberation is first and foremost liberation from the radical slavery of sin. Its end and its goal is the freedom of the children of God, which is the gift of grace.” [Ratzinger] Liberation theology becomes a deviant of the true Catholic Faith making liberty the Marxist movement itself. The movement camouflages its real intent in theo-speak. “A theologian who has learned his theology in the classical tradition and has accepted its spiritual challenge will find it hard to realize that an attempt is being made, in all seriousness, to recast the whole Christian reality in the categories of politico-social liberation praxis.” [Ratzinger]

Parish priests are warned of the Marxist subcurrent in the movement. Marxism is in direct conflict with the Church and to marry the theology of salvation and Marxism is like hanging a man with his own rope.

The present Instruction has a much more limited and precise purpose: to draw the attention of pastors, theologians, and all the faithful to the deviations, and risks of deviation, damaging to the faith and to Christian living, that are brought about by certain forms of liberation theology which use, in an insufficiently critical manner, concepts borrowed from various currents of Marxist thought. [Ratzinger]

In a sense, Ratzinger did indeed condemn Liberation Theology as being something other than Catholic faith:

In trying to arrive at an overall evaluation it [Liberation Theology] must be said that, if one accepts the fundamental assumptions which underlie liberation theology, it cannot be denied that the whole edifice has an almost irresistible logic. By adopting the position of biblical criticism and of a hermeneutics that grows through experience, on the one hand, and of the Marxist analysis of history, on the other, liberation theologians have succeeded in creating a total picture of the Christian reality, and this total view seems to respond fully both to the claims of science and to the moral challenges of our time, urging people to make Christianity an instrument of concrete world transformation; it seems to have united Christianity, in this way, with all the “progressive forces” of our era. One can understand, therefore, that this new interpretation of Christianity should have exercised an increasing fascination over theologians, priests and religious, particularly against the background of Third World problems. . . We shall only survive this crisis if we succeed in making the logic of faith visible in an equally compelling manner and in presenting it as a logic of reality, i.e., manifesting the concrete force of a better answer attested in lived experience.

JoeT

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