New Pope, New Face in the CDF?

Liberation theology? No, not for me.
When Pope Benedict XVI appointed Archbishop Gerhard Müller as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was he naive or just trusting?

Questions like this are today worth attention as Archbishop Muller heaps praise on 'liberation theology' as a development that "should in my opinion be included among the most important currents in 20th century Catholic theology."

Among the most important currents in 20th  century Catholic theology? The 20th century. Not a great century for Catholic theology, then. Liberation theology was the Church's answer to Marxism, because, basically, it was Marxism, despite what Archbishop Müller says. It pointed to Christ as Liberator, not of those enslaved to sin, but as liberator of peoples in class struggle and if that happened through violence, it did little to condemn that violence. This is what led Pope Benedict XVI as Cardinal Ratzinger and Prefect of the CDF to say of it:

'An analysis of the phenomenon of liberation theology reveals that it constitutes a fundamental threat to the faith of the Church. At the same time it must be borne in mind that no error could persist unless it contained a grain of truth. Indeed, an error is all the more dangerous, the greater that grain of truth is, for then the temptation it exerts is all the greater.'

Of course, not all 'important currents' are good and praiseworthy, so we can hope that Archbishop Müller went on to criticise liberation theology. That is, we can hope in vain, as the new head of the CDF has form. As Vatican Insider says:

'The arrival of the Catholic Church’s first Latin American Pope made it possible to look at those years and experience without being conditioned by the controversies that raged at the time. Without the ritualism of the false mea culpas and superficial changes, it is easier today to see that the hostility shown by certain sections of the Church towards the Liberation Theology movement was politically motivated and did not really stem from a desire to preserve and spread the faith of the apostles. Those who paid the price were the theologians and pastors who were completely immersed in the evangelical faith of their people. They either ended up in the mince or faded into the shadows.

For a long time, the hostility shown towards the Liberation Theology movement was invaluable factor in helping some climb the ecclesiastical career ladder. In one of his speeches, Müller (who in an interview on 27 December 2012 suggested it was likely a Latin American would substitute Ratzinger as Pope) did not hesitate to describe the political and geopolitical factors that had influenced certain “crusades” against the Liberation Theology movement: “the satisfaction of depriving the Liberation Theology movement of all meaning was intensified by capitalism’s sense of triumph, which was probably considered to have gained absolute victory. It was seen as an easy target that could be fitted into the same category as revolutionary violence and Marxist terrorism,” Müller said.

It would be great if the CDF could challenge this Archbishop on his eulogy of liberation theology, but unfortunately, the head of the CDF is an advocate of liberation theology. Cracking. Didn't Our Lady of Fatima say something to suggest that the dogma of the Faith would be preserved in Portugal, but, by implication, could be lost anywhere or everywhere else - even in Rome?

A pictorial summary of liberation theology
The Church's condemnation of liberation theology? Ah, well, it was just a little rule. I have no doubts that the Holy Father is perfectly orthodox and His Holiness himself is said to have fought liberation theology in Buenos Aires, but one really does get the impression that those who promulgate error have been emboldened by the election of a Successor of St Peter who has such little regard for customs, rules, disciplines and norms.

Perhaps the Cardinals chose a Latin American Jesuit who would be popular on purpose. The popularity of the Pope takes the heat off their wayward doctrines, beliefs and lifestyle. After all, as others have said, turkeys don't vote for Christmas. Certain members of the Church's hierarchy obviously see in Pope Francis a 'soft touch'. Out of love for the Church, His Holiness's love for the Bride of Christ, I would like to see Pope Francis take a break from the cuddly Pope parade and get a little bit tough on those who promote error and endanger souls. Where better to start than at the CDF?

Comments

Tonia Marshall said…
Bishop Egan's book Philosophy and Catholic Theology has a good section about Liberation Theology. In it he says "John Paul II can be said to have nationalized liberation theology, revising it and making it the universal theology of the church". Liberation Theology was certainly not all bad. The preferential option for the poor is now a cornerstone of Catholic social teaching.