Liberation theology was a movement in Latin America that started in the late 1960’s. It was the beginning of a new social movement. It was a way of thinking and interpreting the bible. However it ended up being more than that. It analyzed history from different perspectives and acknowledged Marxism thoughts. (V. A. 1) One main purpose of liberation theology was to help the poor. Gustavo Gutierrez coined the term liberation theology, and is considered to be the father of it to most people. He believed praxis was the starting point.
Theology was the second stage. This was basically a practice of theory. Praxis involved taking action for the poor and the oppressed. The start of this new was caused from various reasons. One reason was that all bishops were sent to Europe to be educated. When they came back, they would be radicalized. Latin Americans wanted their own schooling for priests. They didn’t want European ideas; they wanted their ideas from their culture. Another big problem was poverty and human rights. Most Latin Americans were poverty stricken.
Most countries in Latin America didn’t have any human rights. Therefore one their main focuses was social injustice. (V. A. 1) During their time period, many theologians were criticized or harassed. For example, there were fifteen attempts to assassinate Dom Helder Camera, who was a significant figure in liberation theology. Many were threatened. Some were arrested, tortured, or killed. While there were others who just disappeared. However they still practiced their beliefs and spread their ideas. (V. B. ) One problem with liberation theology was that was destructive towards the church.
Liberation theology led to Marxism thoughts and practices, which led the church to be turned against. (V. C. 1) Therefore, the Catholic Church did not support this movement. However, there were many faults within the Catholic Church in Latin America which led to liberation theology. Another reason it was destructive, was because liberation theology tended to promote or advocate in violence in order to obtain social justice. Millions would be killed due to violence. (V. C. 2)
Due to the threat of Marxism, Pope John Paul II was against liberation theology. He described liberation as “liberation from everything that oppresses human beings, but especially liberation from sin and the evil one, in the joy of knowing god and being known by him. ” The Pope however did acknowledge that the church had failed in protecting the poor people. (V. D. 1)Liberation theology helped to fight to protect the poor. It relied on the analysis of Marxism though, so the Catholic Church challenged it by issuing two documents from the Vatican.
It warned of the Marxist influences, and stated “true liberation is more than freedom from poverty and oppression; ultimately, humans must be liberated from sin and death by the grace of God. ”(V. D. 2) Liberation theology didn’t take a stronghold of any country except for Nicaragua where the Sandinistas took over for a brief period. Gutierrez said, “While there are poor people, there will be Liberation Theology. ” The economy of Latin America has been in poverty for generations now. Although some of the ideas have changed since the creation of liberation theology, it still depended on the poor in order to survive. (V. E. 1)