WARSAW, Poland (CNS): A Brazilian cardinal said liberation theology is “alive and growing in strength” in parts of the Latin American Church.
The retired Archbishop of Sao Paulo, Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, added that the Pope personally opposed a 1989 division of his archdiocese, but failed to prevent its imposition by Vatican officials.
“Liberation theology and the life of Church communities rest on the word of Jesus, which provides inspiration for overcoming hardships and sufferings through nonviolent action,” Cardinal Arns said.
“We can’t say liberation theology has ended, even if it has faced afflictions, as well as a certain phase of stagnation,” he added.
In an interview last month with Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza daily, the 79 year-old cardinal said liberation theology “taught humanity to take history in its hands” and was growing again among Latin America’s basic Christian communities.
Popes Paul VI and John Paul II criticised some exponents’ use of Marxist concepts in liberation theology, which started becoming popular among Third World theologians in the 1960s.
The Church’s official stance was set out in 1984 and 1986 doctrinal congregation instructions that recognised the need for a scientific analysis of poverty’s causes but rejected an exclusively political interpretation of Bible texts.
In his interview, Cardinal Arns said Pope John Paul had been “very favourable” to liberation theology, although the instructions had dealt a blow by silencing all its “great spokesmen”.
“The Pope always told me it was exactly the same in Brazil as in Poland Ð only in another colour and on another side,” said the cardinal.