Has Pope Francis given the nod to Liberation Theology? The LA Times reports here on the slum priests in Argentina. These men are living in the slums with people who have overwhelming social, health, financial, societal and relationship problems. They are doing a wonderful work ministering Christ’s love to the poorest of the poor.
I think their work is fantastic, but the reporting of their work of the LA Times is very interesting. The headline reads, “Priest spends more time helping than converting,” The number of misconceptions and false assumptions locked into that headline are amazing. First we have the liberal secularist agenda which wants to turn Christianity into a do-gooder religion. The sub-text of the headline is “It’s a really good thing that these priests are getting on with the sensible work of running food kitchens, rehab centers and clinics rather than all that religious stuff.”
The second false assumption underlying the whole article is that this is the old liberation theology come back again, but now its okay. I don’t know enough about the priests in question, but what they are doing doesn’t sound like liberation theology to me. It sounds more like good, hard working priests serving their people and sacrificing their lives for them. Sure, they may get involved in political questions from time to time–I believe priests have to speak out against injustice. But what they are not doing–and this was the problem with liberation theology–is they are not supporting violent revolution and taking up arms against the enemy. The Catholic Church has always argued for a preferential option for the poor. The problem with liberation theology is that it was Marxist in inspiration and sought to justice through revolution.
The third problem with the article is that it once again–hijacks Pope Francis for the liberal agenda. The subtle message of the article is, “Liberation theology is back, and furthermore, Pope Francis is in favor!” Except that he’s not. His efforts to support the slum priests in Argentina and elsewhere is the church’s proper answer to liberation theology: not to foment revolution and get involved politically and take up arms against the enemy, but to be with the poor, serve the poor and show Christ’s love in the midst of their suffering. Pope Francis’ work in Argentina was always an attempt to show the right way of helping the poor and bringing about social change.
I believe he will do this for the developing world the way John Paul II helped to bring liberation to the communist world. Read more.