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Marco Tosatti: A Refresher on Liberation Theology

Editor’s note: Today we are publishing a translation of the first part of the following essay from the website of our friend and colleague, Marco Tosatti. The essay itself is written by the pseudonymous “Super Ex” — a figure Tosatti refers to regularly on his blog — a figure who previously worked within the Church, with a good deal of insight an information. It should be of particular interest to our readers to gain a clearer understanding of the Latin American Church and the influence of Liberation Theology there as the Amazon Synod continues.

A second part will be translated and published here soon. Our thanks to Mr. Tosatti for allowing us to reprint his work here and, as always, to Giuseppe Pellegrino, for translating.

Dear Readers of Stilum Curiae, Super Ex (Ex of Avvenire, Ex of Movimento per la Vita, Ex of various other Catholic movements but still not an ex-Catholic) has given us an analysis of the present situation of the Church, and above all of the battle that Joseph Ratzinger fought to defend the Church from her enemies who today seem to have the upper hand. Happy reading.

* * *

The fact that Benedict XVI is still living and witnessing what is transpiring today in the Church is perhaps a mystery of the Faith. First as cardinal and then as pope, Ratzinger was the churchman who fought the most against the “self-destruction of the Church by her own ministers.”

Today he is witnessing the momentary defeat of everything he has done and said for decades.

As things presently stand, his opponents of yesterday are now triumphing across the board.

In order to understand this, we need to pick up an old book, “Senza Misericordia,” published by [Milan publishing house] Kaos in July 2005, right after the election of Ratzinger to the papal throne.

The authors of the book called themselves “Disciples of Truth” — enemies of Benedict XVI, churchmen hiding under pseudonyms, thus covertly launching their accusations against their perennial adversary.

The book contains a partisan and sectarian — but extremely interesting — telling of the battles of the former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, contemptuously referred to as the “Panzerkardinal.”

Let’s take a look at this book and retrace the battles of Ratzinger and, indirectly, those of John Paul II.

Against Liberation Theology

The first paragraph of the second part of the book opens with a significant title: “Against Liberation Theology.” The first accusation brought against the newly elected Benedict XVI was precisely this: that he had spent his entire life, beginning with a document in 1984, opposing confusion between the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the “gospel” of Karl Marx.

Liberation theologians, Ratzinger notes, are in error, because they separate “bread” [meaning economic gain] from the Word of God, and even place them in opposition to each other. The paragraph specifies two individuals whom Ratzinger had identified as dangerous sowers of error, whom he had summoned to Rome: the Peruvian Gustavo Gutiérrez and the Brazilian Franciscan Leonardo Boff. The latter affirmed, in 1985, that “the majority of the Brazilian clergy have already embraced liberation theology.”

A few pages farther on, the “Disciples of Truth” recall another clash: the one between Ratzinger and Monsignor Pedro Casaldàliga, a bishop of Brazilian Amazonia engaged in social work, according to the spirit of the socalist utopia. After a Roman admonition was given to Casaldàliga, on September 27, 1988, some twenty Brazilian bishops sent a declaration of solidarity with their disciplined brother bishop to Ratzinger. Jumping forward a few more pages, we find another encounter between Ratzinger and yet another Brazilian theologian, the feminist activist Ivone Gerbara, who wrote in 1995 that she was in favor of abortion “in certain cases and circumstances.”

Let’s pause a moment to get some historical perspective: it was Ratzinger and John Paul II who identified the Marxist Catholicism of Latin America as one of the cancers of Catholicism. And they called Gutiérrez, Boff, Casaldàliga, and Gerbara to return to the True Faith.

We have seen where these heretics all come from: Latin America and, for the most part, Brazil.

This is an interesting observation in light of certain facts: among the main papal electors of Bergoglio was Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, who in his youth was publicly associated with liberation theology. And now today Bergoglio is convoking a Synod on the Amazon, which is mostly located in Brazil, and he has chosen Cardinal Hummes as the relator-general of the synod.

Is Latin American liberation theology, or more precisely Brazilian liberation theology, about to have its revenge?

It seems evident that this is what is happening — not only because Bergoglio has always shown a predilection for governments of the left, composed of communists (from [Boliivan president] Evo Morales to the Chinese Communist Party, including his close ties to the American left of Bernie Sanders, the Argentinian left, and the Italian Partita Democratica), but also because in the last few years, Bergoglio has blatantly rehabilitated all of the theologians formerly condemned by Ratzinger.

In June 2018, for example, Bergoglio publicly received, thanked, and praised Gustavo Gutiérrez, and he subsequently gave customs clearance to the socialist rebel Leonardo Boff, who had greeted Bergoglio’s election with enthusiasm, by sending Boff a letter of congratulations on the occasion of the publication of one of his books.

And as for Pedro Casaldàliga? Bergoglio considers him a good teacher. Proof of this, at the very least, is the laudatory article pubished in L’Osservatore Romano on February 18, 2018, in which the bishop who had at one time been disciplined by Ratzinger and John Paul II was hailed by the Vatican daily as nothing less than a “prophet,” the “referent of the Church of the poor — in Brazil and beyond its borders — committed to the defense of the rights of peasants and indigenous peoples and quilombolas [the descendants of African slaves], with the active participation of the grassroots ecclesial communities, with the laity as the principal protagonists.”

Casaldàliga is also the author of “his” creed, which contains affirmations such as the following: “I believe in a diverse, more fraternal humanity. The world needs to breathe harmoniously in a human manner. All men should recognize each other as men, as brothers, in the utopia of faith[.] … I believe in the new man[.]” It is a true manifesto of humanism without Christ, the humanism of [Italian prime minister Giuseppe] Conte and Bergoglio.

This is the exact opposite of Christian humanism, as defined by Benedict XVI: “We have instead another measure: the Son of God, the true man. It is He who is the measure of true humanism.”

In conclusion of this first part, two observations: liberation theology has triumphed in the Church, thanks to Bergoglio. But in Brazil it has lost, for at least two reasons. The first is the recent electoral victory, after so many years of the dominance of the left, by [Brazilian president Jair] Bolsonaro, against whom Bergoglio is hurling his thunderbolts at the synod. The second is that “the number of Brazilians who say that they are Catholic continues to decline” drastically, a sign that the bad tree is not bearing fruit.

And so?

And so we are witnessing [at the synod] a Pyrrhic victory, a swan song. Bergoglio is liberation theology, which has reached the seat of power, at the very moment in which that seat no longer has a people behind it.

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