In a far-ranging 50,000 word statement released by Pope Francis on Tuesday, he illustrated that he is sympathetic to the tenets of liberation theology and hostile to capitalism.
Liberation theology, which is a recent movement that essentially began at the second Latin American Bishops’ Conference in Colombia in 1968, believes that social systems that contribute to the economic state of the poor should be overthrown. At that conference, the teachings of Jesus Christ were combined with those of Karl Marx to call for violent revolution to overthrow capitalism. The text that emerged that was later used as inspiration was A Theology of Liberation, written in 1971, by Gustavo Gutiérrez, a Peruvian priest and theologian.
In September 2013, Pope Francis held a meeting with Gutiérrez, and L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper, published an essay describing it on Sept. 3. The essay asserted that because Francis is the first pope from Latin America, liberation theology can no longer “remain in the shadows to which it has been relegated for some years, at least in Europe.” Michael Lee, associate professor of theology at Fordham University in New York, said that the experience Francis had hailing from South America “is present in the person of Francis and in the Vatican now in a way that it never has been before. What only makes sense is, then, a reopening of the door to this theology that emerged from that context and spoke so powerfully to it, and continues to do so.”
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