Sunday, August 03, 2008
Fernando Lugo and Leonardo Boff: Liberation Theology in the News
Benedict XVI has granted a reduction to the lay state for the president-elect of Paraguay, a former Catholic bishop who had been suspended "a divinis." Zenit News reports:
The apostolic nuncio in Paraguay announced today the Pope's decision regarding Fernando Lugo.According to the Zenit report, Lugo made the original request for a reduction to the lay state in December 2006. In January 2007 the Congregation of Bishops announced "the suspension 'a divinis' of Lugo, for having declared himself a candidate for the Paraguayan presidency" which was prohibited by the Code of Canon Law.
On April 20, 2008, the day after winning the election, Lugo asked the Church, and Benedict XVI in particular, for forgiveness for the sorrow his disobedience to canon law had caused.
The Vatican now exhorts the President-elect "to be faithful to the Catholic faith in which he was baptized and to lead a life that is consistent with the Gospel".
On July 28, Lugo attended a talk by Boff on education in environmental issues at the National University of Asuncion in the city of San Lorenzo.
The Paraguayan daily La Nacion spoke with Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano of Ciudad del Este regarding Boff's views:
“It’s not that liberation theology opts for the poor, as if the Catholic Church did not opt for the poor. Their manner of opting for the poor is exclusionary. For this reason John Paul II said the option for the poor is not exclusive or exclusionary, and he was referring to liberation theology.”
Speaking of liberation theology, Sandro Magister writes of Leondardi Boff and his brother, Clodovis Boff - "Separated Brethren" www.chiesa. July 14, 2008:
Leonardo Boff today calls himself a "theologus peregrinus," without a stable home. He was banned from teaching in Catholic theology faculties in a 1985 sentence from the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, caused mainly by his book "Church, Charism and Power: Liberation Theology and the Institutional Church." He left the Franciscan order and got married. He lives in Petrópolis, in the state of Rio de Janeiro.According to Clodovis, the "fatal" error into which Liberationi Theology -- "as it really exists" -- falls is establishing the poor as the "first operative principle of theology," substituting them for God and Jesus Christ. "When the poor acquire the status of an epistemological 'primum'," asks Clodivis, "what happens to the faith and its doctrine on the theological and pastoral level? [...] The inevitable result is the politicization of the faith, its reduction to an instrument for social liberation."
Leonardi Boff of course disagrees, responding:
"It is not true that liberation theology replaces God and Christ with the poor. [...] It was Christ who wanted to identify himself with the poor. The place of the poor is a privileged place of encounter with the Lord. Those who encounter the poor inevitably encounter Christ, still in his crucified form, asking to be taken down from the cross and brought back to life."
According to Clodivis, liberation theology can be restored by returning to its original foundation, as expressed in the final document of the Latin American bishops at their continental conference held in Aparecida, Brazil, in May of 2007, and inaugurated by Benedict XVI in person (Available here, in Spanish).
But Leonardo isn't feeling the love: "his is an intention that to me is the equivalent of saying: My brother, I stab you in the heart, but relax, it's for your own good."
Magister posts the full text of Clodivis' article Teologia da Libertação e volta ao fundamento ("Revista Eclesiástica Brasileira", N. 268, Vol. 67, Outubro 2007, pg. 1001-1022) and Boff's rebuttal: Pelos pobres, contra a estreiteza do método.
Howbeit in Portugese. (Translation, anybody?)
A few days ago, Brazilian liberation theology advocate Leonardo Boff whined the Vatican was facing a "great internal crisis" because it fails to represent the people it serves, contending that "the zero growth of the Catholic Church in our planet" and a "lack of representation of Latin American Catholics" were responsible for an "internal crisis in the Vatican."
Judging by Magister's article, it would seem the crisis resides within the ranks of liberation theologians.