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#1360: O'Brien's comments on Foxwell's post : Corbett adds as well

From: Martha O'Brien <mobfa1@scotus.sfcpa.edu>

Several reactions and questions regarding Mr. Foxwell's post:

	1)	Is Aristide really "godless" at this point?  When I heard him 
speak at the Pax Christi USA Conference two years ago, he did 
not seem to have lost his faith in God or his basic grounding in 
liberation theology.

	2)	My impression of liberation theology (and please correct 
me if I am wrong--I am not an expert in the field) is that its 
"preferential option for the poor" and some of the aims of  Marxism 
are not mutually exclusive--indeed, they are closely related.  
Obviously liberation theology is not atheistic, but it is revolutionary 
in its own way.  As was Jesus in his own way.......

	3)	Which brings me to the moneylenders in the temple.  If 
Jesus's actions are to be the measure and the model, perhaps it 
would be good to include some of his less meek moments as well.  
I don't have the exact quote in front of me, but he also stated that 
he came to place a sword between various and sundry family 
members, for example.

Martha O'Brien


Corbett adds:

I would agree with Martha O'Brien and add:

1.  Liberation Theology is indeed a form of Christian Theology.  Perhaps
the theology of Mr. Foxwell will be a different form of Christian theology
than Liberation Theology, but it is a debate within a fundamental commitment
to a Christian view of the world.  Jean-Bertrand Aristide may not practice
as a priest any longer, but nothing I have seen him say or write indicate
that he has changed his fundamental position as a Roman Catholic Christian
who follows the 20th century Liberation Theology.

2.  The Vatican overseers of theology have long disliked Liberation Theology.
One specific complain was that the Marxian concept of class war fare was 
a fundamental contradiction to the Christian concept of forgivenness and
the brotherhood (and sisterhood, though Rome's a bit slow about this 
sisterhood stuff) of all humans.  

That particular version of Liberation Theology, that which embraced the
class war fare concept was in the writings of Gustavo Gutierrez.  However,
an entire second wing of L.T. rejected that on strikingly similar grounds
as the Vatican.  The position is best represented by Leonardo Boff.  He is
the one who introduces the concept of the preferrential option for the poor.
This position says that while we must always treat all humans with equal
respect and consideration, the poor, precisely because of their desperate
needs, demand preferrential treatment to meet their material needs, and
the needs to reform social institutions which systematically keep them
poor.  This view is, as O'Brien points out, consistent with Marxist views,
neither denying the class warfare concept, but not embracing it either,
and is consistent with the Vatican's attack on Gutierrez.

It is specially ironic that the Vatican came down hard not on Gutierrez,
with whom they supposedly had this huge theological beef, but on Boff.
It was through the work of Cardinal Ratzinger, Vatican watch-dog on
theological arthodoxy, that Boff was silenced for one year, not being
allowed to speak publically not publish.  Boff honored his year of silence.

Yet it was Boff in his awesome book SAINT FRANCIS, MODEL OF HUMAN LIBERATION,
which spelled out the preferrential option for the poor in chapter 2.
What is the most ironic thing of all is that Boff studied his theology in
Germany and studied under the then leading theologian -- Cardinal Ratzinger.
Chapter 2 of the St. Francis book is laden with footnotes referring to
Ratzinger's work!!!

How could this man have so sparked Vatican censur?

Well, he wrote a second book on The Church and in that he argued that
South American Catholics (particularly) in their current situation in their
quest for faith and redemption, did not need to rely on priests and the
Church, but could follow their path of faith on their own in the 
base communities (ti legliz in Haiti).  I've always felt that it was that
move and not any alleged Marxist connection which got Boff in the big heat.

The L.T. of Aristide might well have been more consistent with Gutierrez
than Boff from what I have read in IN THE PARISH OF THE POOR.  Aristide
may have preached a revolutionary socialize which he took to be a 
Christian form of it, but he didn't want to put the priests out of business,
especially Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who he seemed to cultivate as a

Bob Corbett