In this regard, beloved Brothers, it is worth remembering that last August the Instruction Libertatis Nuntius on Certain Aspects of the “Theology of Liberation” published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith celebrated its 25th anniversary. It stressed the danger that is entailed in an a-critical acceptance on the part of certain theologians of theses and methodologies that derive from Marxism. Its more or less visible consequences consisting of rebellion, division, dissent, offence, and anarchy make themselves felt, creating in your diocesan communities great suffering and a serious loss of vitality. I implore all those who in some way have felt attracted, involved and deeply touched by certain deceptive principles of Liberation Theology to consider once again the above-mentioned Instruction, perceiving the kind light with which it is proffered. I remind everyone that “”the supreme rule of her [the Church’s] faith’ derives from the unity which the Spirit has created between Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church in a reciprocity which means that none of the three can survive without the others” (John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, n. 55); and that in the context of Church bodies and communities, forgiveness offered and received in the name of and out of love for the Most Blessed Trinity, whom we worship in our hearts, puts an end to the suffering of our beloved Church, a pilgrim in the Lands of the Holy Cross.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, in union with Christ the Virgin Mary, so deeply loved and venerated in your dioceses and the whole of Brazil, precedes us and guides us. In her we find pure and undefiled the true essence of the Church and thus, through her, we learn to know and love the mystery of the Church which lives in history. We feel profoundly part of her, we become in our turn “ecclesial souls” learning to resist that “inner secularization” which is threatening the Church and her teaching.
Pope Benedict XVI, Address to Brazilian Bishops, December 5, 2009
Whenever PopeWatch thinks of Liberation Theology these days, the song Springtime for Hitler from The Producers runs through his mind. (If only Liberation Theology, as it should be, were an absurd song in a musical comedy!) It certainly seems like springtime for this Marxism, barely in disguise, at least judging from stories like this:
The Vatican’s rehabilitation of liberation theology is continuing under Pope Francis with the movement’s founder appearing at an official Vatican event next week talking about “a poor church for the poor.”
We learned this week from Mihai Pacepa, a former Communist spymaster, that Liberation Theology was at least in part the creation of Soviet espionage agents, who saw the Catholic peasants of Latin America as vulnerable to Marxist recruitment through gullible, idealistic or power-hungry clergy. As Pecepa recalls,
[I]n 1968 the KGB-created Christian Peace Conference, supported by the world-wide World Peace Council, was able to maneuver a group of leftist South American bishops into holding a Conference of Latin American Bishops at Medellin, Colombia. The Conference’s official task was to ameliorate poverty. Its undeclared goal was to recognize a new religious movement encouraging the poor to rebel against the “institutionalized violence of poverty,” and to recommend the new movement to the World Council of Churches for official approval.
The Medellin Conference achieved both goals. It also bought the KGB-born name “Liberation Theology.”
In subsequent years, hundreds of priests, nuns, and lay workers used their positions of influence over ordinary people to instruct them in a new, revolutionary reading of the Gospel. When the Marxist Sandinistas came to power in Nicaragua, Liberation Theology priests worked closely with the government, over the objections of Pope John Paul II.
John Allen offers a thoughtful analysis of the accuracy of Pecepa’s claim, which The Stream’s David Mills discusses here. Steve Skojec analyzes the relevant church documents, and then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s take on Liberation Theology, here.
What’s most intriguing in Allen’s account is the counter-theory, current among some Catholics in Latin America who resent the competition of Pentecostal missionaries in countries that were for centuries a legal Catholic monopoly: Even as the Soviets were seeding Latin American Catholics with Liberation Theology, the Reagan administration was fighting back by fostering Pentecostal churches there — to build up solidly anti-Communist Protestants. Now I’d never heard that conspiracy theory before, but if it were true, all I could say as a Catholic is, “Thank God for the Gipper!”
Whatever problems one might have with Pentecostalism, it is genuinely Christian, which Liberation Theology isn’t. It’s scarcely theology. And it doesn’t liberate. In Latin America, it served or serves as the pious fig-leaf for nasty dictatorships like the Sandinistas’ in Nicaragua, and the Chavistas’ in Venezuela. Its watered-down American version — popular among leftists who still claim to be Catholic — offers political cover for pro-abortion, anti-marriage lawmakers, who hope they can buy back their souls by dispensing some extra food stamps and reducing their carbon footprints.
Much worse than Liberation Theology’s worldly effects are the spiritual poisons it trades in: toxic envy, gut-gnawing resentment, a craving for the chance to mete out violence, a scorn for thrift and honest work and an acid cynicism that reduces every human relationship to a swap of money or power. All this in the name of Jesus. Continue Reading