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Pope Francis

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Once scrutinized by the Holy See, Founder of 'liberation theology' visits Vatican

2015-05-12

He is widely considered the founder of liberation theology. He was once scrutinized by the Vatican hierarchy, but now the doors are open. 

His name is Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez. An 86 year old Peruvian theologian who led the controversial movement that ran across parts of Latin America in the 60's and 70's. 

FR. GUSTAVO GUTIERREZ
Liberation Theology Founder
"Was I called to speak before the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith back then? Yes, I was. Was it a very critical conversation? Yes. But there was never a condemnation.”

According to the movement, it wasn't enough to sympathize with the needy. The Church, it argued needed to actively side with the poor and push for social and political changes. Critics said it was too closely aligned with Marxism. 

Decades have passed and some of the misunderstandings of the movement have faded along the way. In fact, just months ago, Cardinal Gerhard Muller, who heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and who was appointed by Benedict XVI, presented a book along with Fr. Gutierrez. 

FR. GUSTAVO GUTIERREZ
Liberation Theology Founder
"Theology can help by giving a clear vision to those who are concretely dedicated to the practice of justice and charity.” 

The Vatican press conference was a way to shed light on the general assembly of Caritas Internationalis, which is the main charity arm of the Church. But the attention was on Gutierrez and whether his presence marked a shift in attitude. 

When asked if he would change his past writings, Gutierrez answered by posing a question of his own. 

FR. GUSTAVO GUTIERREZ
Liberation Theology Founder
"I told the reporter, after being married for 20 years could you write the same love letter to your wife, just like when you were dating? He said 'No, I couldn't.' I said, 'well that's my case.' This is exactly it! Delving into theology is like writing a love letter to God, my Church and my people. This is what Theology is about. I wouldn't write the same things I did years ago, but the love is the same.” 


He adds that when Pope Francis talks about helping the poor,  it's not seen as a new theology, but simply as a way to live out the Gospel. 

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