Liberation theology founder gets hero’s welcome at Vatican

Rev Gustavo Gutierrez

The founder of liberation theology received a hero’s welcome at the Vatican last week as the once-criticised movement continues its rehabilitation under Pope Francis, reports AP in The Globe and Mail.

The Rev Gustavo Gutierrez of Peru was the surprise speaker last Tuesday at a book launch featuring the head of the Vatican’s orthodoxy office, Cardinal Gerhard Mueller; one of Francis’ top advisers, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga; and the Vatican spokesman.

The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger spent much of his tenure at Mueller’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith battling liberation theology and disciplining some of its most famous defenders, arguing that they had misinterpreted Jesus’ preference for the poor into a Marxist call for armed rebellion.

That interpretation was powerfully attractive to many Latin Americans in the 1960s and 1970s who were raised Catholic, taught by Marxist-influenced teachers and outraged by the inequality and bloody repression around them.

Gutierrez and his backers insist true liberation theology was always perfectly in line with the Church’s social teaching about the poor, which Francis embraces.

Francis wrote the preface of Mueller’s book, Poor for the Poor: The Mission of the Church, which contains two chapters written by Gutierrez.

Gutierrez, 85, received a round of applause when the Vatican spokesman noted his presence and another round when he approached the podium to speak about the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Pope Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, has had a complicated relationship with liberation theology, clashing with left-leaning members of his Jesuit order who took up its politicized call to confront Argentina’s violent military dictatorship in the 1970s.

Nevertheless, Francis fully embraces the call for the Church to have a 'preferential option for the poor.'

FULL STORY Criticized by Benedict, liberation theology founder gets hero’s welcome at Vatican (The Globe and Mail)

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