“In 1968, the KGB was able to manueuver a group of leftist South American bishops into holding a conference in Medellin, Colombia. …The official task of the conference was to help eliminate poverty in Latin America. Its undeclared goal was to legitimize a KGB-created religious movement dubbed ‘liberation theology,’ the secret task of which was to incite Latin America’s poor to rebel against the ‘institutionalized violence of poverty’ generated by the United States. …The Medellin Conference did indeed endorse liberation theology, and the delegates recommended it to the World Council of Churches for official approval.” Having already “come under the control of Soviet foreign intelligence,” the WCC ”endorsed liberation theology and made it part of the WCC agenda.”
Liberation Theology, it would seem, was to be the perfect marriage of the intellectual and the religious classes. According to Reverend Robert A. Sirico, “The intellectual power of the liberation theology movement derived from its attempt to justify a traditionally atheistic Marxist movement within a framework that would appeal to religiously minded Latin Americans.” The Acton Institute founder details,
“The theology was not complicated. It combined Marxian economic doctrine with a misrendering and politicization of Christ’s moral injunctions to help the poor. In this respect, it was easily refuted through simple economic logic. The ‘structures of oppression’ that so outraged the liberation theologians were not capitalism but traditional mercantilist policies in which a government-connected elite used the state to inhibit free competition for land and capital and sought trade policies that would benefit large landholders at the expense of craftsmen and small farmers. The ‘liberation’ that these faith-based Marxist ideologues sought could only be found in the overthrow of mercantilist economics and the invigoration of a business economy that would spread economic opportunity and prosperity.
Uprooting the theological error was more complicated. Formal political and theological criticism came from the Catholic Church under Pope John Paul II. Having lived under the totalitarian socialism of both Nazism and communism, he saw the grave dangers that seemingly naïve misunderstandings of economics, combined with religious zeal, could pose for societies. He used his personal influence among Latin American bishops to weigh against the teaching of the liberation theologians, and he directly confronted leaders of Marxist political and ecclesiastical movements for their distortions of traditional Christian teaching. At issue, he said, was not only the danger that liberation theology would lend moral support to would-be totalitarians; he also rejected the attempt to thoroughly politicize Christ’s message on behalf of the poor.”
When Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, worked as the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1981-2005, he enforced Pope John Paul II’s anti-Liberation Theology policy by speaking out against the ideology and sanctioning priests who supported the Marxist ideal. However, Pope Francis’s affirmed (ironically first appointed by Pope Benedict) prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Muller, is not as wary of Liberation Theology as his predecessor. Then again, perhaps the new Pope isn’t, either.