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based. On the central question, the link between evangelisation and liberation, Paul VI laid down two conditions:

(x) It cannot be limited purely and simply to the economic, social and cultural spheres, but must concern the whole person in all dimensions, including the relationship to an 'absolute7, and even to the Absolute, which is God.

{2) It is based, therefore, on a conception of hitman nature, an anthropology, which can never be sacrificed to the requirements of some strategy or other, or to practice, or to short-term effectiveness.

Pope John Paul II at Puebla

Just when liberation theology seemed poised for its greatest expansion, a pope appeared who was hostile to it. As a Pole, Pope John Paul II had seen the bankruptcy of Marxism and could not understand why Christians should feel they had anything to learn from it. The Latin American enthusiasm for borrowing some Marxist concepts seemed like the height of naivete. At the first available opportunity, namely his visit to the CELAM conference in Puebla, Mexico,6 in 1979, he declared roundly that 'the idea of Christ as a political figure, a revolutionary, as the subversive man from Nazareth, does not tally with the church's catechesis'. He also said it was wrong to identify the Kingdom of God with a political realm, and scotched the notion that Catholic social doctrine was out of date.

Did Pope John Paul condemn 'Liberation Theology1 at Puebla, and so disappoint the hopes of the Latin Americans? Many reports suggested that he did, and that there was a contrast between the public acclaim given by the Mexican people and his reception at Puebla. Others have reacted against this interpretation and attributed the alleged rejection of 'liberation theology' to hasty misreporting of random remarks made on the plane out. The Pope's spcech was well received at Puebla, and theologians of liberation, present in large numbers, welcomed it,

A careful reading of the full text of the speech will alone enable us to solve the puzzle of contradictory interpretations. It seems that the questions above are badly posed- It was assumed either that the Pope would endorse the 'conservative' line or that he would endorse the liberation' and 'progressive' line. In fact he did neither. He did something else. He changed the level on which the questions were to be asked. He revealed his 'pastoral solicitude' by inviting the Latin Americans to see their problems in a wider theological perspective. What he did in effect was to present, 'as a brother to very beloved brothers' but also 'with the solicitous care of a pastor and

The Roman Catholic Church the affection of a father", an alternative form of the theology of liberation, Th is has two conscquences - but they must be taken together, dialectically, otherwise the meaning of the speech will be distorted. First, liberation theology, as developed in Latin America is critically scrutinised and found gravely wanting. But at the same time, second, the concern for social justice expressed by liberation theology is validated and confirmed.

The criticism of liberation theology is acute and shows a good knowledge of the literature. John Paul II asserts, as a central principle, that the primary mission of pastors is to 'be teachers of the truth, not a human and rational truth, but the truth that comes from God\ This runs counter to one of the main theses of liberation theology which claims that 'truth that comes from God' cannot be discovered outside the political and social world in which they are embroiled. Hence their criticism of Maritain's expression 'the primacy of the spiritual*. They are for the primacy of praxis. A separated spiritual truth has no meaning for them. It is not enough to proclaim the gospel faithfully, it must be lived: or rather you cannot truly proclaim the gospel faithfully unless you live according to it (by identifying with the oppressed), But the Pope remarks: 'Over and above unity in love, unity in truth is always urgent for us,1 The Pope also reacts against the tendency of liberation theology to say that the starting point of theology is the situation J Against this 'source' of theology, the Pope reasserts the traditional 'sources', Scripture and tradition.

Just as emphatic is his rejection of the 're-interpretations' of the gospel that have been proposed. They are the result, he says, 'of theoretical speculations rather than an authentic mediation of the GospeP (1,4). Liberation theology proposes that we read the Gospels from 'a class point of view', and this vantage point results in seeing Jesus as a political liberator, 'as one involved in the class struggle1 as the Pope says. But 'this idea of Christ as a political figure, a revolutionary, as the subversive man from Nazareth, does not tally with the Church's catechesis\ Note the mildness of this formulation. He might have said 'is totally misleading' or 'is unfounded in Scripture*. Note, too, the 'unequivocal rejection of violence' which the Pope finds in the New Testament, However, one should also notice that John Paul II hints at the end of this section that Jesus is indeed a 'revolutionary' but in a far deeper sense: the claims of what he calls *a transforming, peace-making, pardoning and reconciling love' are extremely demanding, Human values are turned upside down. Though John Paul does not say so, it is open to call that attitude 'revolutionary5.

Liberation theology has consequcnccs over the whole field of theology. The Church becomes the unrealised union of all those who are committed in the struggle for human liberation, whether they happen to call themselves

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