The CATHOLIC HERALD reports this morning that: “Pope Francis praises founder of liberation theology”!
The Pope thanked Fr Gustavo Gutierrez for his ‘way of challenging everyone’s conscience’
Pope Francis wished a happy 90th birthday to the “father of liberation theology” and thanked him for his contributions to the Catholic Church and his love for the poor. […]
“Thank you for your efforts and for your way of challenging everyone’s conscience, so that no one remains indifferent to the tragedy of poverty and exclusion,” the Pope wrote.
Fr Gutierrez, a Peruvian, is one of the principal founders of liberation theology, which rose to prominence in South America in the 1960s and 1970s as a way of responding to the needs of Latin America’s poor and as a call for freedom from unjust social structures.
In the 1990s, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then led by the future Pope Benedict XVI, expressed concerns about some currents of liberation theology, which he said were politicised and relied on Marxist ideas and analyses. Nevertheless, he praised zeal for social justice and the poor. […]
However, the Catholic Church already has clear teachings on Social Justice in place: the Catechism of the Catholic Church (nos. 1928-1948), Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum of May 15, 1891, Pope Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno of May 15, 1931, and Pope Pius XII’s Summi Pontificatus of October 20, 1939, among many others.
When Evo Morales, the President of Bolivia, once presented the Pope with a now infamous “Communist Crucifix”— sculpted in the form of a Soviet-style hammer and sickle – it marked a low point in Bolivian diplomacy. To offer such a “gift” to the Pope was not only exploitive, but a profound insult to the millions of Christians murdered by Communists. It was also a reminder of how Marxism has infected, and often poisoned, Latin American Christianity through aberrant forms of liberation theology.
Liberation theology has often captivated good men, mostly priests, and deceived them into believing Christians could fruitfully collaborate with Marxists in building a more humane society. But the history of Latin American history in the twentieth century — particularly in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela — suggests otherwise. Committed Marxists do not believe in authentic dialogue, only tactical and ideological subversion. Karl Marx himself wrote: “Communists preach no morality at all.”
Liberation theology arose in the 1960s and 70s as a response to the widespread poverty and injustice in Latin America. It began with the Gospel premise that Christians have a special obligation to help the poor. But like so many theological movements which depart from sound Catholic principles, it began importing alien ideologies, and quickly went astray.
The first offense of liberation theology was one of presumption. Liberationists wrote as though God had granted them a new revelation—it was now time for a radical revision of Catholic teaching that incorporated the “insights” of Karl Marx. Liberationists ridiculed “non-transformative” modes of traditional charity, and maintained that in order to truly liberate the poor, it was necessary to radically change society’s fundamental structures—with violence, if necessary.
The second error of liberation theology has been its repeated calumnies. Although liberation theologians often complained—and still complain—of being unfairly treated, they have been in the forefront of launching reckless, ad hominen attacks against their critics.
Where Liberation Theology fails is in its dealing “only with earthly things” Cardinal Mueller once said at a press conference with Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez.
Pole Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II were constant voices of warning and condemnation for these Marxist ideas inherent in the new movement given the benign and deviant name of Liberation Theology. Naturally, material, earthly goods are necessary for man’s survival, but the Son of God is the only One who liberates man from becoming a slave to his bodily needs and temptations.
Benedict XVI, during his tenure as prefect of the CDF, once wrote :
“The first great challenge we faced was liberation theology, which spread in Latin America. Both in Europe and in North America it was common opinion that it constituted a support for the poor and was therefore of course approved. That was a mistake. The poverty and the poor were undisputedly the subject of liberation theology, but in a very specific perspective. (…) It was not about aid and reform, but the great revolution, from which a new world should emerge.The Christian faith was used as a motor of this revolutionary movement and thereby transformed into a political force. (…) Of course, these ideas were in different variants and they not always appeared with absolute clarity, but overall this was the thrust. Such a distortion of the Christian faith had to be resisted, especially out of love for the poor and the service that would be provided in their favour. ” (…)
John Paul II “Guided us, on the one hand to unmask a false idea of liberation, on the other hand, to show the authentic vocation of the Church to the liberation of man.“
In thanking the founder of Liberation Theology, Fr Gustavo Gutierrez, for his supposed “contributions to the Catholic Church”, is Pope Francis ignoring the evils of the movement’s Marxist ideology? Is Pope Francis once again sidelining the authority of his two Papal predecessors, both strong critics of Liberation Theology?
[Adapted from sources: First Things, Eponymous Flower, Catholic Herald]