I have come across a couple of interesting articles on Liberation Theology and Pope Francis that you might find interesting as well.
Müller’s positive judgment on liberation theology – read through the lens of Gutiérrez – can be grasped from the very first lines of the page of the book reproduced further below:
“The ecclesial and theological movement of Latin America, known as liberation theology and which after Vatican II found a worldwide echo, is to be numbered, in my judgment, among the most significant currents of Catholic theology of the 20th century.”
Further on he maintains:
“It is only by means of liberation theology that Catholic theology has been able to emancipate itself from the dualistic dilemma of the here and now and the afterlife, of earthly happiness and ultra-earthly salvation.”
The expression of Pope Francis: “I dream of a Church that is poor and for the poor” has been taken by many as the crowning of this absolution of liberation theology.
But it would be naïve to consider the controversy closed.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio has never concealed his disagreement with essential aspects of this theology.
His theologians of reference have never been Gutiérrez, nor Leonardo Boff, nor Jon Sobrino, but the Argentine Juan Carlos Scannone, who had elaborated a theology not of liberation but “of the people,” focused on the culture and religious sensibility of the common people, of the poor in the first place, with their traditional spirituality and their sensitivity to justice.
In 2005 – when the book by Müller and Gutiérrez had already been released in Germany – the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires wrote:
“After the collapse of the totalitarian empire of ‘real socialism,’ these currents of thought were thrown into disarray. Incapable of either radical reformulation or new creativity, they survived by inertia, even if there are still some today who anachronistically would like to re-propose it.”
However, over all the book seems to be more than just a biography. Vallely is ideological. He is trying to influence the course of events within the Church, not just report them. So, he is firmly MSM. He is assistant editor of The Independent, on the board of The Tablet, is involved in CAFOD. For information on what happened in the conclave he seems to have relied on Card. Murphy O’Connor. Though Valley doesn’t quote him directly about the internal dealings of the conclave that elected Francis, the Cardinal is quoted directly several times in that chapter. Valley relies on Timothy Radcliff, OP, to interpret Francis. The final quote, sentence, of the text is from Leonardo Boff.
In fact, the book is an apologia for diminishing the role of the Roman Curia and the defusing of authority to bishop’s conferences and the Synod of Bishops, for liturgy based on the lowest common denominator, for eliminating everything Benedict XVI did, and, above all, for the rehabilitation of Liberation Theology.
For Vallely, Francis, over many years, finally converted from his rigid, authoritarian ways and his unjust suspicion of Liberation Theology to humility and, therefore, enlightened and wise acceptance of Liberation Theology.
Read them all and the most interesting comments section on Father Z’s blog. He has a lengthy excerpt from the book which he fisks in his usual fashion.
So —is Liberation Theology merely Catholic Social Doctrine without the Marxism?
One of the big things I find is often forgotten by those who purport to represent Catholic Social Doctrine in the public square is the principle of subsidiarity, which is really an argument for limited overall state government, stronger local municipalities and for strong intervening institutions such as families, churches, unions, charities, clubs, and the like. Instead, I find the proponents stressing solidarity alone through the advocacy of big statist, redistribution of wealth schemes that contribute to the breakdown of subsidiarity.