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Pope Francis a liberation-theology buff? That's a misconception

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | May 28, 2013

By now it should be clear that every time Pope Francis speaks about the needs of the poor—and he speaks on that topic frequently—secular commentators will rush to announce that the Pope has embraced leftist political principles. If you often find yourself in conversations with people influenced by those mistaken commentaries, you should be prepared to set them straight.

Toward that end I highly recommend Samuel Gregg’s piece, Pope Francis and Liberation Theology, on the National Review site. As Gregg observes, although many reporters claim that the Holy Father is sympathetic to liberation theology, the Pope’s actual words and deeds say otherwise. While he has been friendly on a personal level with some individuals prominent in the school, Cardinal Bergoglio/Pope Francis has always steered clear of their ideological products.

What Pope Francis actually does embrace, Gregg continues, is a separate approach, known as the teologia del pueblo, which “tends to be translated into bottom-up and locally based approaches to poverty.” That school of thought is sympathetic toward the plight of the poor, but hostile to big-government solutions and social engineering.

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