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Does Pope Francis Really Support Liberation Theology?
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According to one Telegraph reporter, Pope Francis is somehow bringing Liberation Theology into the mainstream of the Catholic Church. Is Pope Francis a secret part of a leftist movement or is this one more example of a media which simply does not take the time to actually listen to what this Pope says?
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, writing for The Telegraph, Pope Francis is bringing Liberation Theology into the Vatican. The Liberation Theology movement has been clearly criticized and corrected over many yeard by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the chief office which oversees ensuring that the Catholic faith is not diminished by false teaching.
Among the numerous statements, clarifications and teachings concerning what has been labeled liberation theology was the 1984 INSTRUCTION ON CERTAIN ASPECTS OF THE
"THEOLOGY OF LIBERATION. However, even the title of that instruction uncovers the lightweight nature of the Telegraph report. The Introductory paragraph to that excellent instruction notes:
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.
This warning should in no way be interpreted as a disavowal of all those who want to respond generously and with an authentic evangelical spirit to the "preferential option for the poor." It should not at all serve as an excuse for those who maintain the attitude of neutrality and indifference in the face of the tragic and pressing problems of human misery and injustice. It is, on the contrary, dictated by the certitude that the serious ideological deviations which it points out tends inevitably to betray the cause of the poor.
More than ever, it is important that numerous Christians, whose faith is clear and who are committed to live the Christian life in its fullness, become involved in the struggle for justice, freedom, and human dignity because of their love for their disinherited, oppressed, and persecuted brothers and sisters. More than ever, the Church intends to condemn abuses, injustices, and attacks against freedom, wherever they occur and whoever commits them. She intends to struggle, by her own means, for the defense and advancement of the rights of mankind, especially of the poor.
The Instruction goes through the positive aspects contained in some of what is often lumped in with what is referred to as liberation theology and corrects the aberrations associated with the movement. In particular, the utter rejection of using Marxist Analysis is absolutely clear. Evans-Pritchard appears to not be aware of the document or the subsequent teachings from the Holy See rejecting all of the efforts to spin the teaching of the Church on solidarity with the poor - as well as other legitimate aspects of Catholic Social Doctrine - with such a Marxist Analysis. Marxism is an atheistic and materialistic ideology which has been rejected by the Catholic Church.
When you examine the current Holy Father's teachings, interviews, homilies, and actions, this is clearly a man who embodies the Gospel mandate to love the poor and recognize Jesus in the Poor. He is also unafraid to address the excesses of anyone who acts as though man was made as a commodity for the market, a product rather than a gift, instead of seeing the market itself as called to be at the service of the person, the family and the common good.
Evans-Pritchard wrote, The 'preferential option for the poor' is back. The doctrine that so inflamed controversy in the 1970s and 1980, famously wedded to Nicaragua's Sandinista cause, now has a Papal imprimatur. It is close to becoming official doctrine for the world's 1.2bn Roman Catholics under 'Evangelii Gaudium', the Pope's first apostolic exhortation. This will have consequences."
The preferential option for the poor', that teaching concerning our obligation to show a love of preference to the poor, never left! It is found in the 25th chapter of Matthews Gospel, reflected upon in the early Fathers, expounded upon in the social encyclicals, and clearly explained in both the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church. Pope Emeritus Benedict wrote eloquently and passionately about it in his encyclical letters as did his predecessor Blessed John Paul II.
Evans-Pritchard is simply numbered among the ranks of reporters who have decided to write lightweight articles which fail to truly consider the topic they are addressing. The Church has not changed its rejection of mistaken efforts such as the Sandinista efforts to attempt to somehow lend legitimacy to Marxist analysis by borrowing concepts from Catholic Social Doctrine. Francis has been quite clear about that as well. It just seems his clarity does not fit the narrative Evans-Pritchard wanted to spin in this article.
That is reinforced when he jumps to this politicized analysis of the curial reform being instituted by Francis: The conservative power of the Papal Curia is being broken. All of a sudden the Vatican is the spearhead of radical economic thinking. The best-known of the Pope's newly-minted Council of Cardinals is none other than Archbishop Reinhard Marx, the firebrand "Rote Kardinal" of Munich and author of Das Kapital: A Plea for Man.
Wow. Pope Francis is being made to sound like a political left wing radical with his name linked to the infamous Sandinista rebellion in Nicaragua. Then, the much needed reform of the Roman Curia is being spun in political jargon, as a rejection of conservative prelates! This is not only a stretch beyond credibility, it is poor reporting.
Ever since Pope Francis refused to step up onto a tiny stool to elevate himself above others at his opening address to the world, he has captured world attention. His simple lifestyle, his charity, his humility, and his approach to servant leadership has made him more popular than any rock star or secular celebrity around.
With so much popularity, numerous movements want to co opt Pope Francis, using him in an effort to lend credibility to their agenda. It seems they think that a movement that can capture the Pope can capture a good number of his followers as well. Many groups have tried. Chief among them were self-professed homosexuals, with some attempting to claim that Pope Francis has "accepted" their "lifestyle." The Advocate, a publication geared towards such homosexuals, named Pope Francis their "person of the year," just days after Time Magazine did.
Yet Pope Francis does not belong to any of these movements. He belongs to Jesus Christ. Yes, in Jjesus Christ he reaches out to all men and women, recognizing their human dignity and showing them the love of Jesus Christ. In fact, he made clear that he was not, and never was, a subscriber to Liberation Theology, as improperly understood in so many circles. Rather he follows the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the only source of true and complete liberation for all men and women.
Why does Pope Francis seem so radical then? He seems radical for the same reason Jesus appeared so radical. Our age is so saturated with corruption, moral degradation, relativism, and other errors, we have lost the capacity to see clearly when a man of simple Gospel virtue speaks and acts in the manner of the Pope named Francis. In our compromised environment, it is the right, the good and the just, that appears so radical.
Jesus Christ preached a simple message. "Love one another." In an age where money changers had set up permanent residence in God's Temple, this was a radical message. Pope Francis is repeating what Jesus already said. However, instead of speaking in parables, the Pope teaches a lesson that is tailored to the specific time and place where we are. Pope Francis speaks to atheists, to misguided materialists, to the good Catholic as well as the fallen away. He is reaching out and calling for everyone to focus less on the divisions between us and more on the path to rediscovering the common good.
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This isn't a Marxist message, it is a Christian message. Nor is Francis watering down Catholic orthodoxy in his teaching. Instead, he is refocusing us, shifting our attention from the distractions of our age and asking us to follow him on a path that leads back to Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit inspired the plan and picked the time. The world's faithful have spent so much time fighting evil in the streets - opposing legal abortion and euthanasia, contending against those who undermine marriage, that some have grown weary. We have sometimes moved away from our core mission, to live the Gospel in its fullness, proclaiming it in both word and deed. That includes, as always, to serve the poor, the downtrodden, the disenfranchised. To feed the hungry, to care for the sick, and to visit the imprisoned.
Now that Pope Francis is refocusing the Church on its core evangelical mission, a miraculous thing is happening. Church attendance is up. Fallen away Catholics are returning to confession and returning to the pews. Communion lines are longer. We have had many warriors fighting evil, but we have lost millions who were behind them building up the Nehemiah wall. Now, Pope Francis is bringing the wall builders back.
Many in the media cannot hear his message precisley because of how simple it truly is. The age of arrogance and pride cannot comprehend or see such simplicity anymore. This wisdom is foolishness to him that does not see with the eye of faith. No, Pope Francis isn't a Marxist or anything else for that matter. He's a Pope, and a good one at that. His message isn't against capitalism or any other ism for that matter. It's a simple message, repeated both in deed and in action time and again, love one another as God loves us.
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