Liberation theology-A A +A
The Living Spirit
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
IN MY martial law memoirs, I wrote that during the martial law years I felt greatly inspired by the South American liberation theology.
The founder of this theology is Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez, a theologian from South America, who taught this theology to the millions of poor people of the South American continent. He said: the poor are called blessed by Jesus of Nazareth and they can inherit the kingdom of justice and peace by liberating themselves from the clutches of slavery and exploitation by the rich. It is a recurrence of the Exodus story of the Israelites to the promise land.
The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) under Cardinal Ratzinger that time denounced the theology of liberation as Marxist and communist. Leonardo Boff, another liberation theologian, was suspended by the CDF and subsequently left the Franciscan order and the priesthood.
Today, the theology of liberation is experiencing something of a revival under Pope Francis. When Francis was still in Argentina as archbishop his relationship with liberation theology was ambiguous, though, but as pope he seems to be embracing it more and more. He even is said to be in regular contact with Boff. I myself had my reservation regarding the Marxist elements of liberation theology, in particular on the philosophy of the class struggle.
The Catholic Church is a community of brothers and sisters regardless of social class, rich or poor. But the Church has also a preferential option for the poor and not only that, it recognizes that the poor may have spiritual insights into the Gospel message that the rich may lack. It seems that Jesus gave that privilege to the poor when he said: “Blessed are the poor.” And Pope Francis clearly supports that idea by living his own lifestyle in the Vatican.
Clearly, we are experiencing something of a revival of the liberation theology. We should apply this on our own situation in the Philippines, the situation of the Church and society. The Church should give its highest priority to the formation of the basic Christian communities in the Church. It is through the BECs or the BCCs that the faithful can exercise their Christian obligation to take care of each other as brothers and sisters, especially with respect to the poor. The preferential option for the poor must be put into practice by the base communities.
With respect to our society the political systems should be aligned according to this preferential option for the poor. The dominant ideology of free-market capitalism should be abolished. The development of our economy should not be left to the businessmen, because they are only out to compete with each other in order to make profit, very often at the expense of the poor.
Our political systems in government should be re-aligned with the preferential option for the poor and oppressed. Slavery should be definitely made a thing of the past. Basic to our Christian faith is servitude, bondage, being of service to our fellowmen.
If we deeply reflect on this Christian value we will be able to recognize God’s presence and his working in creation and in the history of mankind. This free gift of God is a challenge to us to commit ourselves for the realization of God’s plan with the world. It teaches us in our brokenness, our weakness, our poverty – in one word: in the futility of our human nature, to recognize that everything is grace.
Through this experience we grow in solidarity with those who live in situations of poverty and injustice. If we let ourselves be challenged by the poor and oppressed, we gradually will be transformed and we will start looking at the world with God’s eyes and love her with his heart. With God we hear the cry of the poor and we want to make our own his care, his concern and mercy with respect to the poor and the least of his children. According to Dr. Schillebeeckx, a Dutch theologian, the faithful have the obligation to promote what is good for a livable human situation and fight against whatever is degrading to the human person and enslaves him by social structures and violations of basic human rights.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 08, 2013.