In a rare interview granted to the Argentinean daily “La Nacion,” dissident theologian Father Sergio Torres of Chile, current president of the dissident group “Amerindia,” acknowledged the serious errors of liberation theology but went on to criticize Pope Benedict XVI.
Torres told “La Nacion” that with the 5th General Conference of the Latin American Bishops’ Conference, taking place in Aparecida, Brazil, “27 years of a kind of interior exile within the Church has come to an end,” saying the process began last February when five bishops, led by Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, held “long and detailed discussions” wit the most important liberation theology proponents: Father Gustavo Gutierrez of Peru, Fathers Carlos Mester and Oscar Beozzo, and Maria Clara Bimgemer of Brazil, and Pablo Bonavia of Uruguay.
“We are not the same, and things have radically changed: the Cold War ended, true Socialism in Russia and in other countries came to an end, and there are now new challenges. We also made mistakes in our writings and interventions. We sincerely hoped that Socialism was capable of bring about social transformation. We were also the victims of the errors of others, because some of our people said and did things that were not supported by liberation theology.” As examples, Torres pointed to the case of a Guatemalan nun who “celebrated” Mass because, she said, she was not going to wait for someone to ask her. “Such cases were cited as examples of liberation theologians. These mistakes contributed to us being called Marxists,” he said during the interview.
“In using the Marxist analysis, it was difficult to make a distinction between historical materialism and dialectic materialism,” Torres continued. “We had bad luck. Liberation theology developed in a time in which Marxism was growing, the revolution in Cuba took place and guerrilla movements sprang up in various countries.”
“We agreed on the need to seek out radical change,” he said, “but not on certain methods. Between that liberation theology and that of today there is a difference of context and of issues.”
The new themes of liberation theology, the Chilean priest said, include “the theology of feminist, Indian and Afro-American liberation and eco-theology.” “Liberation theology today must hear the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth,” he added.
Torres criticized Pope Benedict XVI for his “ignorance of Latin American in certain aspects, such as the natives and the situation of the family.” Nevertheless, he said he was “happy” with the Pope’s discourse inaugurating the 5th General Conference of the Latin American Bishops’ Conference because of the mention of the “option for the poor.”