Liberation Theology

I posted this comment on a religion blog in the thread ANALYSIS: To understand Pope Francis, look to the Jesuits.

Ah yes, the Jesuits! I spent 5 years of my life at a Jesuit university and found the order quite refreshing following 4 dreary years under the thumb of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. The latter group emphasized order, rules and dogma while the Jesuits embraced academic inquiry and social justice. The contrast could not have been more clear.

I surely developed my version of liberation theology from the many theology classes I attended there. Some detractors within the broad umbrella of Catholicism refer to liberation theology as Marxism as if Jesus were from some privileged upper class. That foolishness is beyond absurd. No doubt this is why I so often challenge those who would twist the words of Jesus into some comfortable and innocuous message rather than his mandate to be our brother’s keeper. Period.

That Pope Francis is a Jesuit and embraces liberation theology puts him in the crosshairs. I seriously fear for his life. There are way-too many people within the Catholic Church who find that philosophy a challenge to their personal lifestyle. The example of the unexplained death of Pope John Paul I ought to alarm those skeptical of assassination of Popes. Further, the public openness of Pope Francis as he gets close to those who come to greet him places his safety in jeopardy.

Nonetheless, he will not shy away from demonstrating his love, his tolerance and his call to justice for all. After all, neither did Jesus.

I did not have to wait too long [less than 2 hours] for feedback. It was from a conservative Catholic with a different point of view; he and I often are on opposite ends of the theological spectrum. Fundamentalist Christians of any denomination interpret the life of Jesus in a strange and odd way. Their emphasis is on ‘savior’ rather than model or teacher. There is another thread on this site about that topic.

If liberation theology was NOT the principle of Jesus then I have read the Gospels wrong. Surely one must recognize that these Gospels have been redacted as well as written for a specific audience. Not only that, but we do not have the original texts of any of the 4 writers. As a result we have words placed on the lips of Jesus that he probably did not speak.

Nonetheless, what is consistent in the canonical gospels is Jesus’ work with the poor, the outcast, the disenfranchised and the other. He had little tolerance for the well-to-do and clearly no tolerance for the Roman government. Yet, here in the 21st century, many fundamentalist Christians embrace both the power of the military as well as an economy clearly tilted towards the well-to-do. It expresses itself as the right-leaning governance style of the Republican Party.

This current actualization of the old Republican Party embraces and encourages a governance style that places the military assets of the United States in a dominant role in geopolitics. Adherents often speak of ‘our oil’ which, in fact, lies under the soil of another nation. The George Bush Administration’s War on Iraq is a glaring example of that agenda. ‘No Blood for Oil’ was a common placard seen on street corners held by those few, brave souls who protested the invasion of Iraq. Sadly the protesters were outnumbered by ‘patriots’ who believed the propaganda spread by the Bush Administration and its minions in right-wing media outlets.

Many conservative Christians championed the invasion with Bible in one hand and an American flag in the other. They sang, “Onward Christian Soldiers” as they cheered the bombs bursting over Baghdad in March of 2003. President Bush used the word, crusade’ in making his cause- a dog whistle for the conservative Christian base of his political party. After all, Iraqis were Muslims!

Apparently the 100,000 dead Iraqis and the 2,000 dead Americans were of little consequence to those who cheered on the war. The oil fields were safe and the American thirst for oil was at last sated.


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