Ripples have been felt across the Catholic Church this week as the Latin American Bishops’ Council announced that it has set aside liberation theology – calling it “archaic”. This is big news: liberation theology, branded by critics as “Christianized Marxism” interprets Jesus’s teachings as promoting liberation from unjust socioeconomic conditions. The heady combination of Christian theology and political activism is routed in scripture: in Matthew 10:34: “I came not to bring peace, but to bring a sword”, the “sword” is understood to mean social unrest. The famous Catholic phrase, the “option for the poor” originated in a core text of the movement by Gutierrez. Of course, liberation theology has been in trouble after the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith criticised it in the mid-1980s, but in late 2013, Pope Francis hosted Gutierrrez in his residence. This makes the recent declaration that liberation theology is “dead” by the Latin American Church all the more surprising, and raises interesting questions over where the Catholic Church is going and what its role will be in Latin American politics – all difficult questions for Theology, Politics, PPE and human Geography applicants to consider!
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