Liberation Theology and the KGB?

From Catholic News Agency, who just might have a card up their sleeve, but at least it’s interesting to see KGB folks say these things. In the first edition of Gutierrez’s famous book there was a stronger connection to Marxism though as his career moved on there was less emphasis.

Was the Theology of Liberation a movement somehow “created” by Sakharovsky’s part of the KGB, or it was an existing movement that was exacerbated by the USSR?

The movement was born in the KGB, and it had a KGB-invented name: Liberation Theology. During those years, the KGB had a penchant for “liberation” movements. The National Liberation Army of Columbia (FARC), created by the KGB with help from Fidel Castro; the “National Liberation Army of Bolivia, created by the KGB with help from “Che” Guevara; and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), created by the KGB with help from Yasser Arafat are just a few additional “liberation” movements born at the Lubyanka — the headquarters of the KGB.

The birth of Liberation Theology was the intent of a 1960 super-secret “Party-State Dezinformatsiya Program” approved by Aleksandr Shelepin, the chairman of the KGB, and by Politburo member Aleksey Kirichenko, who coordinated the Communist Party’s international policies. This program demanded that the KGB take secret control of the World Council of Churches (WCC), based in Geneva, Switzerland, and use it as cover for converting Liberation Theology into a South American revolutionary tool. The WCC was the largest international ecumenical organization after the Vatican, representing some 550 million Christians of various denominations throughout 120 countries….

How did the Theology of Liberation start?

I was not involved in the creation of Liberation Theology per se. From Sakharovsky I learned, however, that in 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.”

Theology of Liberation had key leaders, some of them famous “pastoral” figures, some others intellectuals. Do you know if there was any involvement of the Soviet bloc in promoting either the personal image or the writings of such personalities? Any specific connection with Bishops Sergio Mendes Arceo from Mexico or Helder Camara from Brazil?  Any possible direct connection with liberation theologians such as Leonardo Boff, Frei Betto, Henry Camacho or Gustavo Gutierrez?  

I have good reason to suspect that there was an organic connection between the KGB and some of those leading promoters of Liberation Theology, but I have no evidence to prove it. For the last 15 years of my life in Romania (1963 – 1978), I managed that country’s scientific and technological espionage, as well as the disinformation operations aimed at improving Ceausescu’s stature in the West.

I recently glanced through Gutierrez’s book A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, Salvation (1971), and I had the feeling that it was written at the Lubyanka. No wonder he is now credited with being the founder of Liberation Theology. From feelings to facts, however, is a long way.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.