A Theology of Liberation

An essential clue to the understanding of poverty in liberation theology is the distinction, made in the Medellín document "Poverty of the Church," between three meanings of the term "poverty": real poverty as an evil—that is something that God does not want; spiritual poverty, in the sense of a readiness to do God's will; and solidarity with the poor, along with protest against the conditions under which they suffer.

But there is one thing that is privileged to be a paradoxical sign of God, in relation to which men are able to manifest their deepest commitment -- our Neighbor. The sacrament of our Neighbor!' -- Congar

Charity is today a 'political charity.'. . . it means the transformation of a society structured to benefit a few who appropriate to themselves the value of the work of others. This transformation ought to be directed toward a radical change in the foundation of society, that is, the private ownership of the means of production.

History is no longer as it was for the Greeks, an anamnesis, a remembrance. It is rather a thrust into the future.

If there is no friendship with them and no sharing of the life of the poor, then there is no authentic commitment to liberation, because love exists only among equals.

If there is no friendship with them [the poor] and no sharing of the life of the poor, then there is no authentic commitment to liberation, because love exists only among equals.

In liberation theology the way to rational talk of God is located within a broader and more challenging course of action: the following of Jesus.

In the final analysis, poverty means death: lack of food and housing, the inability to attend properly to health and education needs, the exploitation of workers, permanent unemployment, the lack of respect for one's human dignity, and unjust limitations placed on personal freedom in the areas of self-expression, politics, and religion.

Man is saved if he opens himself to God and to others, even if he is not clearly aware that he is doing so. This is valid for Christians and non-Christians alike -- for all people. . . . We can no longer speak properly of a profane world. A qualitative and intensive approach replaces a quantitative and extensive one.

[Neighbor is] not he whom I find in my path, but rather he in whose path I place myself, he whom I approach and actively seek.

Since the Enlightenment, the political order is an order of freedom. The political structures are no longer given, previous to man's freedom, but are rather realities based on freedom, taken on and modified by man. . . . This new definition of politics carefully distinguishes between state and society. The distinction . . . allows us to differentiate between the public sphere of the state of the Church (or the combination of them) as powers from the public sphere 'in which the interests of all men as a social group are expressed.

The denunciation of injustice implies the rejection of the use of Christianity to legitimize the established order.

The Exodus from Egypt, the home of sacred monarchy, reinforces this idea [desacralization of creation]: it is the 'desacralization' of social praxis. . . . In Egypt, work is alienated and, far from building a just society, contributes rather to increasing injustice and to widening the gap between exploiters and exploited.

The God of Exodus is the God of history and of political liberation more than he is the God of nature.

There are not two histories, one profane and one sacred, 'juxtaposed' or 'closely linked.' Rather there is only one human destiny.

The theory of dependence will take the wrong path and lead to deception if the analysis is not put within the framework of the worldwide class struggle.

The unqualified affirmation of the univeral will of salvation has radically changed the way of conceiving the mission of the Church in the world. . . . The work of salvation is a reality which occurs in history.

The use of a variety of tools does not mean sacrificing depth of analysis; the point is only not to be simplistic but rather to insist on getting at the deepest causes of the situation, for this is what it means to be truly radical.

We take it for granted that Jesus was not interested in political life: his mission was purely religious. Indeed we have witnessed . . . the 'iconization' of the life of Jesus: 'This is a Jesus of hieratic, stereotyped gestures, all representing theological themes. In this way, the life of Jesus is no longer a human life, submerged in history, but a theological life -- an icon.

 The praxis on which liberation theology reflects is a praxis of solidarity in the interests of liberation and is inspired by the gospel.