Religious Liberty is Liberty for All

Miguel Pro, executed by Mexican soldiers under Presidente Calles, November 23, 1927.

The persecution of Christians in Mexico during the 1920s  is a reminder /warning that no nation is exempt from the possibility that religious liberty can be lost.  All liberty is fragile, religious liberty in particular. It  must be defended by all citizens as a cherished foundation of all our liberties. Where the State suppresses religious liberty, it soon suppresses speech, association and economic freedom.


czar said...

I look forward to your homage to Oscar Romero.

Aunty Belle said...

OK--stand by.

Aunty Belle said...

Czar, Oscar Romero is often taken as the patron saint/ martyr of liberation theologists. As I assume you know from editing various left-leaning publishers, liberation theology is a form of marxism (Leonard Boff particularly). Lib theo has been a dreadful plague in Central America including in El Salvador, home of Romero.

It is a book in itself to explore the full import of Romer's work, his death, and the meaning of it all for El Salvador, the poor of Central America, and the Church. I'll spare you the book.

The brief Aunty sketch is this:

The Church has always had a special eye for the poor because it is a command of Christian Charity. It's important however remember that Jesus said the poor would always be among us--in short, heaven will not be achieved here on earth. These two statements seem to be opposed, but are not--we will always have poor people in any type of society, but we still must endeavor to assist them personally ("whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me") and seek a more just structure within society to insure that the needs of the poor are addressed.

Enter liberation theology, a modern manifestation of the garbling of Church teaching with a heresy, marxism. Both JPII and Cdl Ratzinger ( as Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) wrote against liberation theo. The marxists of Latin America were simply using the "theology of liberation" for political purposes, adding a veneer of care for the poor in the name of the Church. Some well meaning religious were swept upo in this--some actually lost their fiath and simply became leftist terrorists--they used physical violence to achieve their political goals. Others were simply duped into thinking that the liberation path would bring quicker "justice" to the poor--it brought only war and strife to the poor.

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Aunty Belle said...

The Church was very direct with these lib theos--they were off the reservation. It angered many who legitimately cared for the poor and who witnessed gross horrors against their people every day. No wonder they despaired and would side with the marxists.

On the other hand, the question was not and is not IF the Church cares for the poor in Central America, but HOW to go about assisting them. The whole "preferential option for the Poor" thrust clearly stated the requirement for leaders to work for more equitable laws and policies.

But there are worse things than being poor, and perpetual civil war is one of them. You can be poor but live in peace. Or, you can be poor and live in abject terror. These are issues that the people on the ground did not want to hear--they wanted justice for their people NOW. Who can blame them? They meant well, but they were out of their depth--no match for marxist betrayers.

The problem is mixing up faith in the push to "liberate" the poor via marxist revolutions, that in truth was not about helping the poor but about getting a Communist foothold on the US doorstep.

The whole snarl was that much worse for the right-wing thuggery. For the Church, it is not IF the poor are to be helped, but how. And the answer is not via violent over throw of the right or left regimes with the poor as the football in the middle.

Romero tried to remain neutral, tho he preached the gospel requirement to build a just society. He defended his people from government goons. The right winged military took him as a marxist.

For Americans it is a very difficult prospect to understand how the Church could "stand by" and allow the right (or the left) to oppress the people in these Central American countries.

But the Church has as her main proposition the preaching of the gospel, not preaching this or that political proposition. It sounds harsh, but the real goal of the Church is the souls of the people not their earthly comfort. The FIRST liberation is the liberation from sin. It is that liberation that the Church cares about. You can be poor and holy. Many saints have been just that--poor, and poor always.

Thought experiment:

Do you suppose that when Jesus walked through Israel, that suddenly all the needs of the poor were met? He fed some, healed some, made champagne for some, chastised some. But we have no reports that in His wake poverty was wiped off the map.

Jesus cared more about their hearts and souls than their physical comforts, though He also admonished the rich and powerful to take care of the poor--and do it "yourselves" not ask the government to do it. And, that is the model the Church takes as her own, as well.

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Aunty Belle said...

What the Church does not advocate, and prohibits is class warfare as a means of achieving social policy or political goals. The innocent are always the pawns in that game.

It also disallows the marxist fallacy that capitalist nations that prosper only do so at the expense of oppressing the developing nations--the Asian Tigers provide an easy refutation of that.

A key point in proper theological
understanding of why liberation theology is off center is that the lib theo fanatic is NOT all that worried about the social stratification of a society but he is enamored of the theory of "class struggle" as the driving energy of history. He believes that history leaps forward and man approaches some historical end game each time class struggle culminates in an overthrow. It is the struggle, the fight--which always moves to violence--that makes his adrenalin flood his veins.

Aunty could reduce the whole misstep to an evil whiff circulating in the 60s...too much De Chardin and not enough de Lubac.

The Latin American leftists used class warfare (theology of progress) as a bludgeon --and some religious bought into it in hopes of correcting the imbalance they saw around them--these priests and friars and sisters had a legitimate complaint on behalf of the poor but NOT a legitimate tactic to remedy the conditions--and thus they fell outside the approval of the Church and some were disciplined. (Sobrino, Boff, Gutierrez, Berrigan brothers,Molina)

What the Popes said to these radical elements within the Church --many became rogue-- is that a political structure is a consequence not a cause: there is no such thing as building "structures of justice" without the gospel (because the evils of greed and oppression begin in the heart of man, not in some political structure. Evil men will construct evil oppressive systems, to be sure, but good man cannot construct any system that insures the eradication of unjust behavior/ attitudes/ policies.) So get back to your own vocations: preach the gospel, teach social responsibility, pray and sacrifice for the people you serve.

(see Pacem in Terris,Populorum progressio)

The Church teaches orthodoxy
(forget the orthopraxis gibberish because you cannot have a correct praxis before a correct thought) which is "straight" teaching, leaning neither left nor right, but grounded on Christ. And don't swoon for the utopian blather either, it always ends in violence to force others to enact YOUR version of that utopia. Man is NOT going to create heaven on earth. Man is not going to be perfected under his own direction of history.

For the most part the method the Church urges on us all is this:

Preach the gospel, impress on people the necessity for justice and charity; build a *holy people* so that they in turn will build a holy society. There are no perfect political models, it's a fallen world, make the best of what you can in the condition where you work (educate, nurse, feed), pray for the conversion of hearts, set a good example, prepare to be persecuted for the sake of the gospel.

Oscar Romero did that.

czar said...

Thanks, Aunty. That's a great read, and I really appreciate your time and perspective.

Aunty Belle said...

Youse welcome...sorry fer the length. Complicated topic.