Francis And Liberation Theology

Ezra Fieser finds that the current Pope, who was ordained as a priest “in 1969, during the height of the Latin American-born church movement,” has had a complex relationship with the school of thought:

While liberation theology influenced generations of Catholic clergy, especially Jesuit priests, Pope Francis never adopted the most left-leaning strands of the movement, according to Argentine Jesuit priest Juan Carlos Scannone, one of Pope Francis’s teachers. In [the] recently published book, Pope Francis: Our Brother, Our Friend, Mr. Scannone wrote, “social Marxists analysis is not used” in Argentine liberation theology. Father [Father José María Cantó, who holds Francis’ former position as rector of the Faculty of Philosophy and Theology at Colegio Máximo in Buenos Aires], says Pope Francis was more influenced by a current within liberation theology based on popular concerns, culture, and historical context. “It is more in line with what the Southern Cone of South America preferred,” he says.

However, Pope Francis has shown an openness to liberation theology, despite years of criticism from the Vatican toward the movement. Earlier this month, he held an audience with [founder of liberation theology Gustavo] Gutiérrez himself, who [historian of religion Jennifer] Hughes calls “one of the most important theological figures of the 20th century.” It remains unclear as to how much the pope is willing to open the Vatican to reconciliation with liberation theologians.