A new book from Ignatius Press featuring interviews with several
professors, students, colleagues, and friends who were close to Cardinal
Bergoglio prior to his election this past spring sheds light on his
views of liberation theology. A recent piece for Catholic News Agency reports:
One of Pope Francis' former teachers says in a new book that the Holy
Father has never supported a Marxist-based liberation theology.
“In the Argentinean Liberation Theology, social Marxist analysis is not
used, but rather a historical-cultural analysis, not based on class
warfare as a determining principle for the interpretation of society and
history,” said Argentinean Jesuit priest Fr. Juan Carlos Scannone.
“I think that the pastoral work of Bergoglio is understood in this context.”
Fr. Scannone’s remarks are included in an extensive interview in the
recent book “Francis Our Brother Our Friend” (Ignatius Press, 2013)
authored by CNA's executive director Alejandro Bermudez.
The book’s release comes amid speculation by Vatican analysts regarding
liberation theology, a controversial school of thought that developed in
Latin America in the 1950s. Liberation theology has been criticized as a
Marxist interpretation of the gospel, focusing on freedom from material
poverty and injustice rather than giving primacy to spiritual freedom.
Fr. Scannone, who is now in his eighties, also says, "My opinion is
that the Argentinean line of liberation theology, which some call
'theology of the people', helps in understanding the pastoral work of Bergoglio as bishop, just as many of his affirmations and teachings do."
Fr. Fernando Cervera, S.J., whose spiritual adviser was Fr.
Bergoglio, explains that "there were Jesuits like Father Scannone and
theologians from the local clergy like Father Lucio Gera who proposed a
non-Marxist Argentinean theology, centered on religious piety and
culture," but noted that while "Bergoglio participated in these
reflections" his role was "more one of pastoral application, as can be
seen in his homilies."
Another former professor, Fr. Enrique Laje, S.J., said that when it
came to liberation theology, Bergoglio "adopted a position of
maintaining dialogue with everyone without getting involved in the
issue." When Laje wrote an article strongly criticial of Marxist-based
liberation theology, a number of liberation theologians complained to
Bergoglio, who said, “Well, if you do not agree, write something to
refute it, if you can.”
The book also points out that Bergoglio was considered "the enemy" by
"the Kirchners", former Argentinian president Néstor Kirchner
(1950-2010) and his widow, current president Cristina Elisabet FernÁndez
de Kirchner, due to his vocal stance against the official recognition
of same-sex marriage. Liliana Negre, a pro-life senator who often
with Cardinal Bergoglio, recounts how in 2010, Bergoglio wrote a letter
in which he said that the push to legislate same-sex marrage "is not a
simple political fight; but rather an attempt to destroy the plan of
God. It is not about a mere legislative projectthat is only the
instrumentbut, rather, it is a ‘move’ by the father of lies, who
intends to confuse and trick the children of God.”
The book, Pope Francis: Our Brother, Our FriendPersonal Recollections about the Man Who Became Pope,
is edited by Alejandro Bermúdez, Executive Director of the Catholic
News Agency, and is now available from Ignatius Press in both hardcover and electronic book format.