Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The church and the poor

In a new article titled Lost Lives and Impoverished Souls author Michael Hogan argues that the Catholic church has abandoned liberation theology and with it the best hope for the poor. Here is the conclusion of the article:

Pope Benedict'’s call for a new "“evangelical mission"” in recent communications in Latin America seems to be basically this: a removal of the Church from any real effort to work for social justice in Latin America and a decision to compete, not for souls, but for audiences in a new evangelical movement, where hymns, invocations of the Holy Spirit and shouted amens and allelulas will provide an other-worldly escape from reality, and where religion will finally become, as Marx so prophetically noted, merely an opiate of the people. The genuine irony is, of course, that liberation theology and the option for the poor which Cardinal Ratzinger denigrated as Marxist, was a clear and powerful alternative to Marxism, and, unlike populism and the militarism which will likely follow as the populist movements fail to deliver, it continues to be the last best hope of empowering people to change their lives, to create grass roots democratic movements, and to form safe, self-sufficient and prosperous communities.

The article is provocative, but whatever might be his insights into the hierarchy of the Catholic church, Hogan fails to recognize the dedication and work of many deeply faithful Catholic priests, brothers, sisters and laypeople in Latin America and throughout the world. The legacy of Oscar Romero, the Jesuit martyrs and the four churchwomen is not dead and dusty, but a living presence in the world.

4 comments:

JF said...

Tim - I wholeheartedly agree with you. Liberation Theology, simply stated, cannot disappear with the history books. As you stated, it will always be present as long as the struggle to create a more egaliarian and peaceful society has not been accomplished.

Anonymous said...

I was born and raised Roman Catholic. Long ago I gave up on the offical church or any offical church organization as they end up far away from the message of God, which is love. They are there to tell women not to pratice birth control but not there to help with the children. There are many good folks that carry on the good work of Romero. But the organization of the church is more worried about saving money rather than souls. If this world is not so important and we are to wait for heaven, then why did Jesus, the Son of God come here in the first place? He showed us how to live, and the organized church has turned its back on His words. René

Anonymous said...

I too was born a Catholic, but I'm completely disappointed with the core of the church. And I agree with Michael Hogan, because even when they may be those few that continue the teachings of liberation theology of people like Ignacio Ellacuría and Monseñor Romero, the current organizations don't do nothing more than cut the legs off of those who support such teachings. In other words, those who seek social justice through methods as this have been losing support thanks to the organizations they are supposed to follow (Vatican). In other words, liberation theology is like twilight, doom to dissipate once the "sun" finally sets. Ah, how just and inspirational has the Church always been. Why weren't the rightous like Francis of Assisi and Gustavo Gutiérrez, able to save the church from turning into the bloated pigs they've become? Thank's to the central Church's undeniable role on cementing paths that lead to social injustice, is one of the reasons I've denounced my faith. An "opiate for the people"... I love that term, I'd rather simply say no to drugs. Resign and be submissive, people...
Wonderful message.

I rather hear this one, than subjugate myself into what the Vatican has become...
[i]The Kingdom of God is within you and all about you, not in buildings of wood and stone. When I am gone, split a piece of wood and I am there; lift a stone and you will find me. [/i]

Dr. Michael Hogan said...

Thanks, Tim, for posting this. Please believe me when I say it was my intention to PRAISE, not to denigrate the fine priests, nuns and lay people who worked and continue to work in Central America. I am one of them. I have worked as an educator in Latin America for over 16 years and also with the land mine removal initiative in Nicaragua. My criticism was that of the Church hierarchy and the U.S. government (neither of which would even recover the bodies of the murdered nuns and bring them home to their families), and the deplorable tendency of a neo-conservative papacy which has not only failed to actively support liberation theology but withdrawn its support from those who were (and are)doing so much good for Central America. There are many of us still here and still working hard, but feeling very alienated from Rome. I felt like I needed to say that, and am pleased that a couple of your respondents took it that way. Dr. Michael Hogan