Saturday, March 1, 2014

More Brief Takes from Week's News: Pope Francis, Catholic Reform, and Liberation Theology

More brief takes from the past week's news--these focusing on discussions of Pope Francis and the Vatican:

Common Dreams notes the surprising invitation this week of the founder of liberation theology, Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez, by the conservative head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, to speak at the Vatican as Müller's new book on theology and the poor is launched:

In another sign the Vatican is leaning ever so slightly in the direction, given its supposed mission, it should long have been anyway, a book launch this week featured a warmly received surprise speaker: Rev. Gustavo Gutierrez, the founder of Latin America's liberation theology, whose Marxist-inspired adherents in the 1960s and 1970s fought against the inequality and repression around them. 

Nicole Winfield points to the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano to suggest that the fact that the Catholic church has its first Latin American pope is leading to the rehabilitation of liberation theology at the Vatican level:

The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, has been on a rehabilitation campaign of sorts, saying that with the first Latin American pope, liberation theology can no longer "remain in the shadows to which it has been relegated for some years, at least in Europe."

Joshua McElwee reports on Gustavo Gutiérrez's Vatican appearance, noting that Gutiérrez told his audience, 

Our neighbor is a person who is not close to us. It is not the person next to us. The neighbor is not the person that we find on our way, but that person that we approach to the extent we leave our own way, our own path, managing to approach others.

And Thomas Fox asks whether Pope Francis can achieve the reforms he appears to want for the Catholic church, noting the following:

The papacies of the last four decades — papacies of restoration — have coincided with the largest church scandal in modern history, perhaps ever: a pandemic pattern of clergy child sex abuse. The glaring lesson has been — for all with open eyes — that the Catholic church cannot continue to wrap itself in a closed off clerical cast[e] and the culture this clericalism has spawned, and survive. Radical change is required.

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