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Is Pope Francis Resurrecting the Nefarious Liberation Theology?

By: Hana Fischer - @hana_fischer - Nov 23, 2016, 4:01 pm
Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as pontiff on March 13, 2013
The Argentinean cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope on March 13, 2013. (Wikimedia)

EspañolInstead of finding inspiration in Pope Francis’s latest pronunciations, Catholics should be worried.

His latest political and economic ideas are a throwback to the 1970s, when Latin America was in full swing with “liberation theology,” a brand of Catholicism inspired by Marxist doctrine.

This school of thought claims that theology must be grounded on more than just philosophy and scripture in order to defend the poor here on Earth, according to Juan Carlos Scannone, an Argentinean priest who greatly influenced the Pope’s thinking.

The different stripes of liberation theology are actually not answering a religious calling, but rather a political one. And, like Marxism, they claim that their proposals are “scientific.” But nothing could be further from the truth, as they despise both historical and scientific facts.

In this field, “liberation” means the destruction of capitalist structures and their replacement with collectivist ones. The free market system is presented as a form of “violence,” even one of the worst manifestations of sin. Destroying capitalism then will rid us of sin and allow the emergence of the “new man,” or so it goes.

In the 1970s, many Latin American Catholics and good-hearted young people wanting to end social injustices, which many blamed on capitalism, took up arms and set out to start a revolution.

It was common to see posters of Jesus with a machine gun in his hand. The message was clear: Christ was a revolutionary and if you want to follow in his footsteps, you must also be a revolutionary. Countless naive students were seduced by this discourse, joining guerrillas and ruining their lives.

Caught in the middle of violence were the common folks, who never chose a side, and never took up arms.

It was one of the most traumatic periods for Latin America. The wounds of the past are gradually healing with much effort, but the Pope’s words threaten to open them again by rehabilitating a failed doctrine that cause so much division in society.

In a speech given during the Third World Meeting of Popular Movements organized by the Vatican, Pope Francis said money rules the world.

How? Through “the whip of fear, inequality, economic, social, cultural and military violence that engenders more and more violence in a downward spiral that never seems to end,” he said, stressing  that such a system is “terrorist.”

Demonstrating either rampant simplicity or ignorance, Pope Francis affirmed that “anyone who has too much attachment for material things” should not get into politics. Is money or lust for power the root of all evil?

Neither Adolf Hitler nor Lenin nor the early Soviet Bolsheviks had any attachment to money or material things. However, both regimes created hell on earth for tens of millions of people.

Someone should advise the Pope not to speak on matters outside his competence, if only out of respect for the institution he represents. His words have the potential to undermine the very religion he represents.

Pope Francis further asserted that the world suffers from “moral atrophy” and that capitalism offers “cosmetic implants that are not a true solution.”

 

In view of the tragic consequences provoked by liberation theology in Latin America, Pope John Paul II asked Church scholars for advice on whether it fit within the teachings of Jesus Christ.

At that time, it was Cardinal Ratzinger, then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and later Pope Benedict XVI, who analyzed liberation theology. He strongly advised against it.

Ratzinger warned of the “serious ideological deviations that inevitably lead to betrayal of the cause of the poor … the class struggle as a road to classless society is a myth that prevents reforms and aggravates misery and injustice.”

He also condemned liberation theology’s “new interpretation, which comes to corrupt what was true of the generous initial commitment to the poor.”

The Gospel tells us that Jesus expelled the merchants from the temple. Many take that passage as a reproach of money. However, properly understood, what was indignant to Christ was that the essence of religion, denoted by these words, be denatured: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

Perhaps in our day, Jesus would throw out more than one “merchant” from the temple.

Hana Fischer Hana Fischer

Hana Fischer was born in and resides in Uruguay. She serves as a writer, researcher, and international affairs columnist in different media outlets. A specialist in philosophy, politics, and economics, she has written several books and received honorable mentions. Follow her @hana_fischer.