Thursday, March 21, 2013

More Testimony about Pope Francis from Leading Liberation Theologians

As the work week ends, I want to point readers to two more good statements about Pope Francis by highly regarded liberation theologians, which the Iglesia Descalza site helpfully made available yesterday (with a hat tip to Jayden Cameron for pointing to these at his Gay Mystic site):

First, at Iglesia Descalza Rebel Girl offers a translation of an interview Fabiana Frayssinet did recently with Leonardo Boff for Inter-Press Service. Boff responds to critics of the new pope who are citing his history during the dirty war and his stance on marriage equality in Argentina to question whether he represents hope for the church in the following way: "[W]hat matters isn't Bergoglio and his past, but Francis and his future."

He also notes that, vis-a-vis the charge that Bergoglio was in some way complicit with the junta's reign of terror, Boff states that he trusts the testimony of noted human rights advocate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, and of Graciela Fernández Meijide, a former member of the Comisión Nacional sobre la Desaparición de Personas in Argentina, both of whom find the claim that Bergoglio supported the junta "libelous." 

With regard to Francis's stance on LGBT rights and issues like abortion, Boff thinks that Francis will almost certainly affirm the current magisterial stance. But he hopes for the following, even as the new pope holds the doctrinal line laid down by his predecessors:

I hope that Francis, as pope, would enable a broad discussion of all these issues, because they're part of the real life of the people and the new culture that is emerging, especially the problem of celibacy and sexual morality. 
This doesn't mean that the Church would renounce its fundamental positions, but that it would discuss them democratically and would have to respect what is democratically decided. The good thing about democracy is that it prevents top-down impositions and allows different opinions to be heard, even if they don't prove to be winning ones.

The second statement of a liberation theologian Rebel Girl offers at Iglesia Descalza is from the Catalan website ARA, and is by the Brazilian bishop Pedro Casaldàliga. Casaldàliga sees the new pope as harbinger of "a different style" in the church, one grounded in a conservative theology but with an "advanced" understanding of pastoral leadership.

For Casaldàliga as for Boff, much will depend on the willingness of the new pope to consult the people of God and to permit free, open discussion of controversial issues where the viewpoint of the laity significantly differs with that of the church's top leaders. As he maintains,

Rome must acknowledge the diversity of the Church; it should listen to the people -- the voice of the people is the voice of God. 

And as he also notes, we'll see the direction in which Francis will really take the church when we see which advisors and secretaries he chooses, and what he does with the Curia.

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