the wake of the Pope’s visit to Mexico the press has been full of announcements
about the death of liberation theology. Our recent experience in Chiapas
indicated that such announcements are premature and marked by misinformation.
Samuel Ruiz Garcia
traveled in caravan with Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia, Bishop Raul Vera Lopez and
Bishop Herbert Hermes through conflictive areas of Ocosingo, Comitan and Tila.
The Mexican government contributed bodyguards for the local bishops but this
offered little peace of mind. The government itself has been among Bishop Ruiz’s
greatest adversaries. We kept thinking, "Who is going to guard the
guards?" Military and paramilitary aggression continues to make life in
Chiapas a nightmare for indigenous citizens.
does this have to do with liberation theology? The phrase was developed as a
response to imperial theology which has been dominant for centuries. Contrary to
popular media misinformation, the theology of liberation neither promotes
violence, nor Marx, nor class struggle. Class struggle is not fomented, it is
simply a reality when some earn $10. per month and others do not earn but rather
receive $1,000,000 per month. Such a theology does not create class struggle, it
simply identifies what already exists. Such a theology does not create violence,
it identifies the institutional violence of a corrupt system.
will indicate that Pope John Paul II did not respond positively to liberation
theology any more than Pope Urban VIII responded well to Galileo. Actually the
current pope has been an active foe of liberation theology and liberation
theologians. Members of the clergy like Father Ernesto Cardenal and Bishop Ruiz
have valiantly struggled to serve the poor of the earth. Their efforts have
received negative attention from the Vatican. In spite of such tensions Pope
John Paul II made strong statements against unregulated capitalism
(neo-liberalism) greed and multinational domination of the world economy. Our
hope is that his deeds will follow his words.
theology is at once a denunciation of the horrors of imperial theology which
gave us the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Conquistadores and God-is-on-our-side
nationalism. Liberation theology is not a fad. It is a conviction for the
believer that identification with the true God requires liberation from
oppression. On the contrary, support for oppression is to worship false gods or
idols. It seems to me that what has been called liberation theology in the
waning days of the 20th century will simply be called theology in the 21st
theology is not focused on human, civil, ecclesiastical mandates like clerical
celibacy. Demanding social justice is far more important than demanding clerical
theological clarity will show reverence and study of the world’s many cultural
and religious expressions and not waste energy on considering "the
other" as adversary. Implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights is far more important than meaningless efforts to "prove"
us identify racial, religious and ethnic separatism as what it is; ignorance.
Science affirms the claim that there is only one race, the human race. Any other
delineation of humanity should be categorized as superstition.
will not be excluded from any function in church or state. Small groups will
reflect on the needs of society and project their objectives from the base to
local and global coordination.
principle of subsidiarity will be implemented. Each unit of society will have a
reasonable autonomy. Starting with the autonomy of the family and continuing to
the need for international law and order to deal with threats to peace, justice,
environmental degradation and aggression. Distributive justice is an attainable
objective is to identify one human family attempting to live together
harmoniously on a small planet. Such an objective may not be accomplished in the
21st century but with your help we can at least get started.