Monday, May 07, 2007


catholic doctrine vs christian values?

i just read an article on something called 'liberation theology', a branch of catholicism that focuses on christ as liberator of oppressed people rather than just christ as redeemer. basically, it's catholicism that wants to improve social justice situations. it encourages activism and can get entwined in political issues. the current and most recent past both have both objected strongly to parts of the theology, to the point of calling it heresy.

here's the nytimes article.

and here, since the previous article didn't do a very good job explaining itself, is the wikipedia entry on liberation theology.

imo, the most tellingly awful quote i saw in the article, was from a conservative theologian in brazil. '[Y]ou continue to be incorrigible, poisoning the people with the theology of liberation, which...annihilates the true faith and subverts the gospel of salvation.'

'subverts the gospel of salvation', huh? don't worry, oppressed masses--heaven awaits! so don't do a goddamn thing to improve your life on earth.

a similar rationale (i.e. HEAVEN!) is used by other religious entities to discourage environmental protection. it's generally just about the worst and most upsetting wide-spread message, well, ever.

despite knowing that the vatican is much more conservative than the catholic tradition i grew up in (one that focused quite a bit on social justice and community action), i am startled to find that liberation theology is considered such a threat to the church. i am saddened and angered to see that catholic leadership hasn't found a way to reconcile social justice and social justice activism with church catechism.

I'm not surprised that the church is up in arms regarding social justice. With social justice movements come education and empowerment, and often, with education and empowerment come a realization that maybe all this "heaven salvation give all your money to the pope and worship a martyr" thing is maybe not the best way to spend one's time. Ultimately, it's about maintaining power, and what better way to do that than to keep the masses focused on heaven. Without heaven as the main goal of Catholicism, the church is up a creek.

With that said, there are so many radical nuns (dude, I *love* that the sisterhood is often radicalized) that do an enormous amount of social justice. So props to them.
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