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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

LT still thrives in Brazil

There's an interesting article on NPR's site about liberation theology and the Pope's visit to Brazil (hat tip to Jeff). Here's just the first part of the article ......

When Pope Benedict XVI arrives this week in Brazil, he will no doubt recall the stir he made in the world's largest Roman Catholic country two decades ago.

Then, as Cardinal Ratzinger, the Defender of the Doctrine of the Faith, he clashed with Brazil's leading liberation theologian, Leonardo Boff. Ratzinger warned that his teachings conflated Christ's mission with Marxism, which drained Jesus of his divinity and unique role as the son of God.

Ratzinger ordered Boff to be silent for one year in 1985. When the church went after the ordained Franciscan a second time for addressing the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, Boff told Rome: "The first time, I accepted punishment out of humility. Now it is humiliation. That is a sin, and I won't do it."

Boff quit the priesthood but remained a Catholic, pressing for what the 68-year-old theologian, philosopher and author calls the central tenet of liberation theology.

"The opposite of poverty is not wealth – it is justice," he says. "And the objective of liberation theology is to create a more just society, not necessarily a wealthier one. And the great question is, how do we do this?"

A generation after Boff's rebuke, Brazil's Catholic clergy is actively, at times defiantly, pursuing the struggle for social justice on behalf of the poor: Catholic bishops stage hunger strikes to halt dam projects that they say put profits of big business above the needs of the people. They broker deals with banks to build housing for the homeless. And priests take to the airwaves to denounce the growing footprint of agro-business that has cut down the rainforest to make way for cattle and much-in-demand soy ........


Blogger Jeff said...

Hi Crystal,

It's been as quiet as crickets everywhere this week, huh?

Maybe there is change in the air over this, maybe not. On the plane trip over, Benedict said:

Seventh Question (from the National Catholic Reporter, United States):
Your Holiness, good morning. There are still many exponents of liberation theology in Brazil. Will you be offering a message specifically for them?

Pope Benedict XVI:
I would say that changes in the political situation have also profoundly changed the situation facing the theology of liberation. By now, it’s evident that these facile forms of millenarianism, which promised, on the basis of an imminent revolution, to produce the complete conditions for a just life, were mistaken. Today, everybody knows this.

I liked this remark by Boff:

"The opposite of poverty is not wealth – it is justice, and the objective of liberation theology is to create a more just society, not necessarily a wealthier one. And the great question is, how do we do this?"

It doesn't have to be Marxism, as some accuse them of holding to.

Latin American religious trends are complex. Have you heard about the guy who claims to be Jesus?

3:16 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

No, I hadn't heard of him- heh. Somehow I expected Jesus to be, I don't know, taller :-)

I hate the constant bringing up of Marxism ... the early church guys shared their stuff (in Acts) - were they Marxists? I think the word has such negative associations, that it's used to scare people away from considering the actual good deeds of liberation theology.

Yeah, it's really quiet in blogdom. I hope people come back - it's getting lonely.

3:34 PM  

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