The Liberation of “Liberation Theology”

By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

liberationtheologyHey guys, just back from my trip to San Francisco and what do I find on my return? Well it looks like that most calcified of religious institutions has gone  California, too? The first Pope from South America seems to have veered the church leftward with two recent messages to the faithful that said, in essence, that capitalism isn’t all that. First, in a scathing speech on Wednesday, Pope Francis slammed the type of predatory capitalism that results in the tragedy of the Bangladesh sweatshop collapse. Catering to western desires for cheap but swanky department store clothing, the human mill in Bangladesh cranked out fashion for consumers at a feverish pace. The shortcut to achieve this profit was a thrown-together building constructed of toothpicks and sealing wax. Not really — but close enough for 400 people to die and scores of others to be maimed when the structure fell. Francis took dead aim at the greed and the greedy that caused these deaths calling it “slave labor”:

“Not paying a just (wage), not providing work, focusing exclusively on the balance books, on financial statements, only looking at making personal profit. That goes against God!”

Second, on Thursday, this thoroughly modern pontiff took to social media to hammer the point. Tweeting his message, Pope Francis said “My thoughts turn to all who are unemployed, often as a result of a self-centred mindset bent on profit at any cost.”  Two and a half million followers on Twitter and over one billion Catholics got the message. Five thousand of them re-tweeted.

In fairness, both previous Pope Benedict and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have made similar, if half-hearted, appeals  for economic fairness but this pontiff from Argentina has put the matter front and center. Francis harkens back to one of the most discredited of regional Catholic movements – liberation theology. This blast from the 60s -70s contended that religion provided a political as well as spiritual path to salvation. It said poverty was  the work of sin and that sin was greed and exploitation of the weak and poor by the politically and hence economically powerful.  Specifically, catholic clergy throughout Central and South America preached that  their  faith was to be “an interpretation …  through the poor’s suffering, their struggle and hope, and a critique of society and the Catholic faith and Christianity through the eyes of the poor.”  The sine qua non was social justice aimed at lifting the poor from their grinding poverty. Predictably,  conservative detractors in the Holy See called it “Christianized Marxism” and got their buds at the  Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (that’s right the once and rightly named  Holy Inquisition run by none other than the guy we now call Pope Benedict) to condemn the whole philosophy for portraying the wealthy Catholic leadership in South America as members of the same economic class as the political oppressors of the day. Talk about speaking truth to power … power don’t like it much.

But this Argentine pope, born in a barrio to a father who fled his native Italy to avoid the fascists, could  be the worst nightmare for the church’s now dominant right-wing. As someone willing to take on the fight for the poor and oppressed, he stands in stark contrast to the ancien régime who said all the right things about fighting poverty but who did so over tea with some of the world’s most exploitive governments. This pope, who eschewed the trappings of wealth and privilege while a cardinal in Buenos Aries, might actually be willing to get his hands dirty and put boots on the ground in this seemingly unending war. With his actions over the past few days, he has certainly taken on the mantle.  If so, the church might be heading for as cataclysmic  a schism as the day Martin Luther nailed those 95 theses on the door to All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg.

And Martin Luther is an apt symbol for what is going on here. The 16th century German monk, who railed against the practice of the wealthy purchasing  pardons from thelutherML Church to exonerate their sins on earth and grease the skids for their ride to Heaven, may have been more prescient of future events than anyone  knew when he wrote:

Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better work than buying pardons;

Because love grows by works of love, and man becomes better; but by pardons man does not grow better, only more free from penalty.

Christians are to be taught that he who sees a man in need, and passes him by, and gives [his money] for pardons, purchases not the indulgences of the pope, but the indignation of God.

Source: CNN

Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

47 thoughts on “The Liberation of “Liberation Theology””

  1. the hay-geee’s said :

    …one day the world would erupt in total chaos…
    …GOD is always knowing…
    …GOD’S word is law…
    …GOD in Heaven would know the hour…
    …people would not be permitted to interfere with the true writes of the cross…
    …you can go to hell for a little white lie.. (the pattie cakes said that also)
    …the true rites would be made known…
    …why would GOD have to learn…
    …there would be an emp. (years later they found the hole in the mag-neat-toe-sphere and don’t know what really caused it.) – (years before that, I put on paper that a man would ask the whirled to pray for his grand children, and if he did so I would add his grand childrens heads to put in MY collection.)
    …the world would go for many years with out children being born wondering if a child were a blessed child. (WE won’t go into the sayrah palin version of that.)…
    …don’t ever speak against GOD…
    …to speak against GOD is eternal damnation…
    … they would unite, and speak against GOD in great numbers…
    … people would be criticized for speaking against GOD…
    … that GOD is unforgiving if HIS NAME is used in vain…
    …no one would know the way to JESUS…
    …who wood said HE was the way to THE FATHER, for judgement day. (so do all the other evangelists)…
    …IF the Prophet were to have any children would HE take peasure in it… (maybe I need a little practice with this one)
    …GOD’S last name is knot damn-it. (HIS last NAME is knot in THE BIBLE)…
    …the nations will rise against the antichrists…
    …layman (undertakers) would perform say-rah-monies…
    …judgment would known before they die…
    …men would be thrown from their office…

    The list continues on, so let’s go to something else.

    in books, billboards, tv shows, they picture JESUS wearing a robe into battle, or what ever they choose to use to deceive folks imaginations.
    Hell! the truth is they don’t even know if HE wears bikini under wear and bowls for charity…
    …or, if GOD wears a G’ ‘ string, or a birthday suit.

    religions preach that, to take any money, in any style, shape, or form from GOD is a sin…
    the only answer that the antichrists, or their politicians will give you is that they are saved. JESUS said, don’t bank on it.

    the mormons have a lot deformed, and retarded children.
    so let’s ask the politicians, that say that GOD is an antichrist one question.

    In a time that the seventh seal was opened and, the world is over populated to kindly explain to GOD: what is a Blessed Child?

  2. have you seen the flaws in d’ni sea an creed.
    he who eateth, and drinketh unworth-a-ly might want a liquid diet so the sacrament slides down.

    they changed something, and lot’s-a-things else…, one of them thare things was about soo-oui-side, to name a few. so …
    … yup I’M here !

    hey, patty boy! do you ray-mem-brr on delta 88, with ben-uh-dict-us, there and claiming to hear the holy spirit, and god also. PLUS all dem. other subjects about di second coming. SHE was watching the show from somewhere else, with OUR SON.
    Jesus never really said what Satan looked like. back then they assumed that satan was a man.

    … why do all those chaps sell those items to save souls if the BIG TEN says, that those items will be shoved up their ass-sets…

    … they will be pried from the cross…

    anyway …
    … the pat-tea cakes said, that: ” THE PROPHET ” would put on GOD’S armor’ everyday …

  3. “I know that from years of reading Mark’s comments that he is hardly an RCC apologist.”

    **************

    As Mike S says I ‘m one of its harshest critics. That said, I am not willing to tar it with every ancient allegation consisting of dubious proofs or accusers with an agenda that I may subscribe to. Fair is fair and an old allegation that remains unproven and with no hope to ever be proven is hardly worth a debate. As they say to comedians in the Catskills, you need some new material.

  4. mespo: Your characterization of the evidence presented in those articles is vastly oversimplified, and far from accurate. This is not a court of law, it’s a blog for goodness sakes. And here we have to go with conscience and some preponderance of available evidence. There are many devout Catholics, and I have the highest respect for devout people of any persuasion, but the Catholic Church is essentially a very broken brand, and has no moral authority of any sort.

    My only point was that given the preponderance of evidence, one very politically correct speech does not wipe away decades and centuries of evil.

    lottakatz: Exactly. There is so much ‘old business’ that I don’t think the CC can ever really come clean. Rome is a den of vipers and always will be.

    1. “This is not a court of law, it’s a blog for goodness sakes.”

      ccrider27,

      I’m confused. Does the reality that this is not a court of law, but merely a blog,
      relax the need to provide convincing evidence to support ones position? I’m hardly a fan and often a critic of the RCC, but in this instance I don’t see the “preponderance of the evidence” you refer to. What I do see, given the years of hardened obtuseness of the last two Popes, is that perhaps this new Pope is willing to move the RCC to a more populist tradition. This to me was the point Mark clearly was making, not that he was an ardent Papist, which you seem to infer. I know that from years of reading Mark’s comments that he is hardly an RCC apologist.

  5. This new Pope may have an eye on economic equality and the dignity of the poor but he really needs to put his foot down, hard, on the ongoing and worldwide pedophilia problem. He is in a perfect position to do so, ‘a new broom sweeps clean’ and all those cliches. It would be a great way to clean out some of those old conservatives that are going to be a millstone around the neck of any Pope that wants to deal with the economic policies of the Church. It’s just hard to look hopefully ahead when old business hasn’t been taken care of.

    “Uganda priest ostracized for publicizing sexual abuse”
    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-africa-catholic-abuse-20130505,0,4578310.story

    “Catholic archbishop defends letting confessed pedophile priest near kids”
    http://americablog.com/2013/05/catholic-archbishop-defends-letting-confessed-pedophile-priest-near-more-kids.html

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