Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Liberation theology and the Pope

As Pope Heads to Brazil, a Rival Theology Persists

Lalo de Almeida for The New York Times

An attendee at a recent Mass at São Paulo Cathedral holds a poster heralding Benedict XVI’s visit, which begins Wednesday. The pope will address the opening session of a conference of Latin American bishops.

Published: May 7, 2007

SÃO PAULO, Brazil, May 2 — In the early 1980s, when Pope John Paul II wanted to clamp down on what he considered a dangerous, Marxist-inspired movement in the Roman Catholic Church, liberation theology, he turned to a trusted aide: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

Now Cardinal Ratzinger is Pope Benedict XVI, and when he arrives here on Wednesday for his first pastoral visit to Latin America he may be surprised at what he finds. Liberation theology, which he once called “a fundamental threat to the faith of the church,” persists as an active, even defiant force in Latin America, home to nearly half the world’s one billion Roman Catholics.

The Pope has in the past said that liberation theology is "a singular heresy."

“The force of Latin America’s harsh social reality is stronger than Rome’s ideology, so the theology of liberation still has a great deal of vitality,” Leonardo Boff, a former Franciscan friar who left the clergy in 1992, argued in a recent interview. “It is true it doesn’t have the visibility it once had and is not as controversial as it once was, but it is very much alive and well.”

It will be interesting to see what the Pope will do and say...


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