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CDF head sees liberation theology strengthened by elimination of Marxist influence

February 26, 2014

Introducing a new book on liberation theology, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) said that the elimination of Marxist influences had produced an important “clarification” of the controversial movement.

Cardinal Gerhard Müller spoke at a February 26 event at the Vatican, introducing his book Poor for the Poor: the Mission of the Church. The book, which explores the thought of liberation theology, includes an introduction by Pope Francis and two chapters by Father Gustavo Gutierrez, the Peruvian theologian who is widely recognized as the most influential figure in the movement.

Father Gutierrez, a longtime friend of Cardinal Müller, also spoke at the book-launching event. The 85-year-old theologian said that the inspiration for liberation theology came directly from Vatican II, with its call for the Church to serve the poor. He said that the Church is always called “to serve and to search for the image of Christ in every man and go toward the ends of the earth and peripheries, as Pope Francis invites us to do.”

The CDF, under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, issued a caution about liberation theology in 1984, specifically warning against the Marxist influence that had emerged in the theological school. However the CDF also acknowledged the value of the movement’s “preferential option for the poor,” and Pope Benedict XVI appointed Cardinal Müller, a former student of Father Gutierrez, to head the CDF.

Cardinal Müller said that the criticism of Marxist influence was a necessary corrective for liberation theology, adding that it is natural that an emerging school of thought requires criticism and clarification.


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