“I believe the synod has great possibilities,” O’Malley commented. “Of course, much will depend on us, the members of the Church, if we are willing to work with this issue and let the Holy Spirit guide us.”
Given the concern of many of the faithful who believe the synod is going to change the doctrine of the Church or that it is going to undermine the profession of faith, the cardinal said that “the idea of the Holy Father is to help us live that beautiful principle that we received from St. Augustine: unity in the essential, freedom in the accidental, and charity in everything.”
“I believe that the Holy Father wants us to use as a paradigm for the Church the life of the early Church, which we find in the Acts of the Apostles. There is where we see a Church that had to face many very serious crises such as Judas’ betrayal, the difference between ethnic groups, and the theological debate on how to receive Gentiles into the Church,” the cardinal continued.
O’Malley highlighted that “the way to overcome those divisions and those challenges was prayer, dialogue, and the Holy Spirit.”
During his participation, Cabrera referred to the issue of ideologies and said that these are partial visions of reality and each one of them “sometimes tries to declare itself as the only way and there we fall into a serious problem.”
“How to break with that? For us the first point of reference is the word of God. In these two thousand years we have a magisterium and a doctrine, which are very little known,” the bishop said. “The ideology is there, but if we analyze from the word, from the magisterium, we can overcome it.”
Eva Fernández highlighted the need of formation for the faithful: “a comprehensive formation for life that helps us to live our faith coherently in the midst of the world, and above all in that great unknown — which academics help us a lot here — the social doctrine of the Church.”
Liberation theology and the poor
Later in the online conversation, De la Cruz commented that “the synod becomes that light that is waking us up, keeping us alert in the face of all the problems. In the case of social issues, it has to do, especially in Latin America, with the rise of liberation theology, which was strongly attacked. “So those priests who were involved in social life found themselves persecuted and rejected.”
“In Latin America, it’s no secret that all this tension that was experienced around liberation theology caused that inaction we have today in concern for social issues,” he added.
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“The neoliberal message,” he continued, “that the poor cannot be helped, that the poor must be given the hook to fish, that also permeated the Church in a negative way and this has also led to that certain inaction of not worrying about social matters.”
“The synod is encouraging us to look again towards the poorest,” he concluded.
Liberation theology, which arose during the second half of the 20th century, presents an analysis of social reality from historical materialism. Many of its postulates were criticized during the pontificate of St. John Paul II and by the then-prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would later become Pope Benedict XVI.
Several of its main ideologues abandoned the Church or held ideas contrary to the magisterium. Some even became guerrilla fighters, such as the Colombian priest Father Camilo Torres.
In May 2022, Pope Francis addressed a video message to the Pontifical Commission for Latin America in which he said that at the beginning of liberation theology, “Marxist analysis was played with a lot” and they didn’t have “the slightest idea” of the Latin American reality.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.