Expert Answer Forum
Liberation Theology QUESTION from Frances March 7, 1999 Dear John-Paul
I am very grateful for the responses you give.May the Lord bless you.
Could you please give me an understanding of liberation theology.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius on March 8, 1999 Dear Frances:
Thank you for your kind words. Any benefit of these answers is due solely to the Holy Spirit.
Liberation Theology, to excerpt from the Catholic Encyclopedia, is a contemporary theological movement launched in 1973 by the publication of A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, and Salvation, by Gustavo Gutierrez, a Peruvian Jesuit priest. This was born out of the human rights problems of Latin America.
Without getting into a detailed history here, there are some aspects of Liberation Theology that are consistent with Catholicism. But much of it is not, and the forms of which it takes today are largely inconsistent with Catholicism and condemned by the Church.
The Church has great concerns about the Marxist class analysis by some exponents of Liberation Theology. The Church also condemns the use of violence as a catalyst for change in Liberation Theology; and the focus of Christ as liberator (usually in a political context) over Christ as Savior is also condemned. Some aspects of Liberation Theology also play down the primary spiritual nature and mission of the Church.
The Church specifically warns against translating sociology into theology.
This really reminds me of Judas and the many Jews at the time of Christ who rejected Jesus because he refused to be Liberator of the Jews over the Romans. This was in Judas’ thinking as well and, I believe, contributed to his betraying Jesus.
Jesus did not come to bring political liberation, per se, though living out the Christian life should lead us to advocate freedom and liberation for all oppressed peoples. Jesus came to bring spiritual freedom, the salvation of our souls, which we need regardless of whether we ever achieve political or sociological liberation.
In as much as Liberation Theology relates to legitimate social justice issues as understood and taught by the Holy See, those exponents of Liberation Theology can be consistent with the Church.
There are two documents published by the Church that gives a thorough analysis of Liberation Theology. I will try to get those documents online in our Library within the next week or two.
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