Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Teología Del Pueblo Is Not Teología De La Liberación

Fr. Juan Carlos Scannone, S.J.
Getting back to liberation theology, does Bergoglio reject holus-bolus everything about liberation theology?El Jesuita, Bergoglio says liberation theology had its pros and cons: the “pro” being its expression of what’s called the “preferential option for the poor,” the “con” being its “ideological deviations.” Well, that’s very close to the assessment expressed in the two “Instructions on Liberation Theology” published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1984 and 1986.
In the interview-book
And who is the Argentine Jesuit that our NYT friends have in mind? In all probability (because there’s really no other candidate), the reference is to Juan Carlos Scannone, S.J., who taught Bergoglio Greek and literature in the seminary.
The difficulty with the Times’ claim, however, is that Scannone isn’t much of a liberation theologian. In fact Scannone has written papers emphasizing where his thought differs from the liberationists. In a 2011 interview, for example, Scannone himself said: “Myself, I‘ve never had anything to do with Marxism.” Scannone specifies that the primary difference between his thought and that of the liberationists is, to use his words, his theology “has neither used Marxist methodology for analyzing reality nor categories taken from Marxism.” Instead, Scannone is best known in Argentina for developing what’s called a teología del pueblo (theology of the people) — something, he says, that is viewed positively by Rome and which Bergoglio has praised on numerous occasions. It’s a theology that takes seriously the popular spirituality and often deeply traditional piety of ordinary people — the kind of thing that’s often the subject of much condescending commentary by your average German progressive theologian but which was also regarded by liberationists such as the late Fr. Juan Luis Segundo, S.J. as a mass phenomenon incapable of fostering revolutionary change, making it an obstacle to “progress.”
But the teología del pueblo, Scannone specifies, also draws considerable inspiration from Paul VI’s 1975 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi. In that sense, Scannone argues, the theology of the people represents “a journey of return between Latin America and Rome.” Here it’s worth noting that Evangelii Nuntiandi firmly rejected — over and over and over again — politicized concepts of Christian liberation and underscored that the Church “refuses to replace the proclamation of the kingdom by the proclamation of forms of human liberation.”
Practically speaking, the teología del pueblo that’s alive and well in Argentina tends to be translated into bottom-up and locally based approaches to poverty. It also rejects calls for class struggle and Sandinista-style revolution. And while adherents of teología del pueblo in Argentina certainly insist on a great deal of government intervention, they also firmly reject top-down paternalism — something no doubt reinforced by the populist and statist policies pursued by the Krichners that have wreaked havoc upon Argentina’s economy over the past ten years. But if you want to get a sense of where Francis may take the Catholic Church regarding social and economic issues, you needn’t waste your energy toiling through texts like Boff’s Church: Charism and Power. Instead, pick up a copy of the concluding document of the Fifth General Conference of the Consejo Episcopal Latino Americano held at Aparecida in 2007.
Link (here) to The National Review

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