Liberation Theology father likes ‘atmosphere’ under Francis

One of the founding fathers of Liberation Theology has acknowledged a clear “change in atmosphere” in the Church under Pope Francis.

Fr Gustavo Gutiérrez said that with Francis it’s easier to push the global Church to have a special concern for the poor, “something we find in the Scriptures”.

But the Peruvian theologian said there has been no “rehabilitation” of Liberation Theology under Pope Francis, because the movement was never formally rejected in the first place.

“To speak of rehabilitation would be inaccurate,” Fr Gutiérrez told reporters in Rome ahead of a Caritas Internationalis assembly, at which he is guest theologian.

“It would imply that there was a de-habilitation first,” he said.

Two documents were issued about Liberation Theology in the 1980s by then-Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

They praised the movement’s concern for the poor and for justice, but condemned a tendency to mix Marxist social analysis and concepts such as “class struggle” with religious commitments to end poverty and injustice.

“I believe that it’s clear now that the key element of Liberation Theology is the special care for the poor,” Fr Gutiérrez said on Tuesday.

He stressed that the CDF never went as far as to ban Liberation Theology.

Fr Gutiérrez also said that even though he was “very happy” to be invited to participate in Caritas’s general assembly, attention shouldn’t be drawn to LiberationTheology, but to “the rehabilitation of the Gospel, the poor and the peripheries”.

The Peruvian thinker said that while he holds a high regard for theology and theologians, at the end of the day “theology . . . has a modest role”.

“What matters in the life of a Christian is to follow Jesus and to put his teachings into practice.”

“There’s no passage in the Bible that says ‘Go and do theology’,” Fr Gutiérrez said, “but there’s one that says, ‘Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations’.”


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