The National Catholic Review
The Latin American origins of Pope Francis’ theology

Surveys conducted shortly after Pope Francis’ historic visit to the United States showed that while Americans overall were left with a more positive impression of the pope, his popularity among Catholics, while still quite high, slightly decreased. According the Pew Research Center, 81 percent of Catholics viewed the pope favorably in October, down from 86 percent in June, a dip driven largely by those who attend Mass regularly.

In July of this year, Gallup polls also recorded a hit to Pope Francis’ favorability, attributable to declining support among Catholics and political conservatives. The drop coincided with two events: the publication of the encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si’,” and the strong critiques of unfettered capitalism the pope delivered during his July trip to South America.

As a Latin American theologian, I would like to try to explain what I call “the theological-pastoral option” of Pope Francis, which is still little known outside the Spanish-speaking theological world. It requires a certain familiarity not only with the evolution of the magisterium of the Latin American church but also with religious and sociopolitical movements in Latin American countries. The inadequacy of many of the attempts to understand the orientation of Francis’ papacy is due to neglect of these factors and may explain why some Catholics have been put off by the pope’s criticism of social and economic structures.

Pastoral Turn

The pope’s trip to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay in July 2015 marked an important development in our understanding of his pontificate. There Francis outlined his program for rescuing humankind from its present distress: a) avoiding “abstract spiritualism”—that is, thinking that we can have faith apart from our social context; b) rejecting “methodical functionalism”—that is, justifying the use of any means to attain a determined end, like remaining in power; c) applying a critical hermeneutic to the “abstract ideologies” that reduce the Gospel and Christian praxis to empty principles; and d) dismantling “ecclesial clericalism and careerism,” which are signs of an immature faith that fails to measure up to the Gospel.

In this vision for the church, we are beginning to see more clearly the connection between the theological and pastoral content of the pope’s discourses and what is known as “theology of the people” (or sometimes called “theology of culture”). The pope’s use of this branch of theology, which arose within the context of the assimilation and application of the Second Vatican Council by the Latin American church, makes it clear that he is proposing something more than a mere change of focus in the church’s pastoral work. He is interested in doing more than refreshing the church’s language or updating existing religious forms and practices. Pope Francis’ aim is to establish a whole new way of being church, one that recognizes the serious effects of the present structural crisis and returns to the path traced out by the Second Vatican Council.

This new way of being church takes on a prophetic quality inspired by the theology of the people, which understands pastoral action in relation to the church’s insertion in the reality of the poor and her appreciation of the values that emerge from the popular sectors. This new way of being church arises from a preferential option for those living on the margins and from a desire to make use of their ability to generate processes of conversion in all of us who belong to the church and the larger society.

This theological approach avoids the tendency to separate and isolate aspects of church life, with faith and scholarship on one side and social and pastoral involvement on the other. Such separation provokes a dysfunctional relationship between the academic world and the reality of the poor, as Pope Francis wrote in “Laudato Si’”:

Many professionals, opinion makers, communications media, and centers of power, being located in affluent urban areas, are far removed from the poor, with little direct contact with their problems. They live and reason from the comfortable position of a high level of development and a quality of life well beyond the reach of the majority of the world’s population. This lack of physical contact...can lead to a numbing of conscience (No. 49).

Conceiving the identity and the action of the church in this way is a consequence of Latin America’s embrace of Vatican II, especially as interpreted by the bishops’ conference at Medellín in 1968. While in Europe the council gave birth to the political theology of Johann Baptist Metz and Hans Küng, in Latin America it inspired the liberation theology of Gustavo Gutiérrez, Ignacio Ellacuría and Jon Sobrino. In Argentina, however, still another understanding of the council emerged, and it was spelled out in the concluding document of the extraordinary assembly of the Argentine bishops at San Miguel in 1969.

The documents of Medellín and San Miguel were inspired, in part, by the proposals of St. John XXIII’s “Mater et Magistra” (1961) and Blessed Paul VI’s “Populorum Progressio” (1967). Both pontiffs were already calling for what St. John described as “a church of the poor” (his words in a September 1962 radio broadcast) and for recognition of “the face of Christ in every poor person, as his sacrament” (as Pope Paul VI said during his 1968 visit to Bogotá). Now comes Francis, who wants “a poor church for the poor,” drawing his inspiration from the so-called Pact of the Catacombs that was signed by 40 bishops, including Dom Hélder Câmara, at the conclusion of Vatican II in 1965. In the pact the bishops declared the need to return again to the ways of the historical Jesus by being “a poor servant church” that would be distinguished for its practice of “fraternity, justice, and compassion.” This is the context in which the theological-pastoral option of Pope Francis developed.

Of the People

The theology of the people as a form of Latin American liberation theology was first elaborated as such by two priest-theologians, Lucio Gera and Rafael Tello, and then adopted by the Argentine bishops’ conference in 1969. Its origins, however, can be traced back to 1966, when the bishops’ pastoral commission defined “the people” in terms of “the existence of a common culture rooted in a common history and committed to the common good.”

The theology of the people was given formal shape by Father Gera in his paper “The Meaning of the Christian Message in the Context of Poverty and Oppression.” For him this theology does not advocate changing social and political structures just for the sake of change; rather, it seeks to discern the mission and identity of the church on the basis of its option of the poor. Such an option fosters sociopolitical dialogue and promotes pastoral ministry inspired by the ideal of social justice to be found concretely in the “faithful people.”

This theological-pastoral option does not rely on the Marxist analysis of social and economic conditions that was found in other kinds of liberation theology. Father Gera held that its starting point should be direct connection with the people and serious study of the people’s common culture and ethos. Such an effort makes it possible to discover what is actually obstructing the people’s socioeconomic, political and religious development and it helps to preserve the people’s positive identity against external influences that attempt to impose an alien ideology.

For, as Pope Francis said in Bolivia, “a people that forgets its past and its historical roots has no future”; that is why “the church makes an option to watch over those who are today discarded and to preserve their precious culture.” Accordingly, the theology of the people is a type of liberation theology that pays special attention to evangelizing the culture by means of social, political and religious transformation. The people’s transformation comes about through integral development of the human person, promotion of sociopolitical dialogue and the practice of social justice.

Already in the 1970s Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., had a clear vision of what the political stance of Christians and the pastoral action of the church should be. In a discourse addressed to a Jesuit assembly in 1974, he explained that Christian practice—both religious and political—should be centered on fraternity, solidarity, social justice and the common good rather than on notions like homeland, revolution and the opposition between conservatives and liberals. He criticized “the fruitless confrontations with the hierarchy and the draining conflicts between ‘progressive’ and ‘reactionary’ wings within the church, which end up giving more importance to the parts than to the whole.”

Justice in Action

To counter institutional polarization and ideological division in today’s church, Pope Francis has proposed some principles of discernment that are partly inspired by Juan Manuel de Rosas, who was governor of Buenos Aires at the end of the 19th century. The principles are “unity over conflict” in the face of polarized institutional realities and “realities over ideas” in the face of attempts to make the Gospel message into ideology (see “The Joy of the Gospel,” Nos. 217–37).

Speaking in Paraguay in July, the pope declared that the principal priorities of the Christian community should be “becoming inserted and incarnated in the experience of the common people and discerning the shape of the church’s liberating, salvific action from the perspective of the people and their concerns.” Otherwise, he stated, the ideologies will gain ground, as has been the case recently in South America, “and they will be no help at all because the ideologies, since they do not start with the people, have an incomplete, unhealthy, or harmful relationship with the people.”

One year into his pontificate, Francis was asked about the slum priests who had been members of the Priests Movement for the Third World; one of them was the Rev. Carlos Mugica, who was killed in 1974. His response was: “They were not Communists. They were priests fighting for social justice.” Indeed, social justice is one of the most important themes in the pope’s theological-pastoral option. The world can be rehumanized and the common good secured only by uniting social justice, theology and pastoral action. As the pope declared in his discourse to the popular movements in Santa Cruz, “the dominant system continues to deny billions of our sisters and brothers the most elemental economic, social, and cultural rights. This system is an assault on the project of Jesus.”

Francis summons Catholics to live a prophetic Christianity that is able to discern the ethical validity and moral truth of the social and religious forces at work in society. Such discernment will determine the change of orientation needed both in a country’s political life and in ecclesial forms so that the church will recover credibility in the world of today. The pope describes the church’s obligation to contribute to these processes of change in “Evangelii Gaudium”:

Together with the various sectors of society, she supports those programs which best respond to the dignity of each person and the common good. In doing this, she proposes in a clear way the fundamental values of human life and convictions which can then find expression in political activity” (No. 241).

In a homily in Quito, Ecuador, on July 7, Pope Francis challenged us to think in terms of a church that is called “to opt for the poor people” and “to resist the temptations of one-sided proposals that tend toward ideology, despotism, and sectarianism.” He called for a church that distances itself from elitism and engages directly with reality.” As he stated in 2001, when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires:

The principle anti-value of today, in my judgment, is the marketing of persons, that is, making people into merchandise. Men and women are converted into just another commodity for projects that come to us from somewhere else, that install themselves in our society and that diminish our human dignity. That is anti-value: the human person as merchandise in the dominant political, economic and social systems.

Rafael Luciani is a Venezuelan lay theologian who has studied in Latin America, Italy and Germany. He has been director of the School of Theology at the Jesuits’ Andrés Bello Catholic University in Caracas, where he is full professor, and he currently holds a position as Visiting Professor at Boston College. Félix Palazzi is a Venezuelan lay theologian who has studied in Latin America, Italy and Germany. He has been director of the Graduate Program in Theology at the Jesuits’ Andrés Bello Catholic University in Caracas, where he is associate professor, and he currently holds a position as visiting professor at Boston College.

Comments

Douglas Fang | 1/29/2016 - 7:11pm

Some of the comments about the Pope seem to be quite pathetic as it show both the level of ignorance as well as arrogance of the so called "conservative" American Catholics. I grew up in a different country and my perception is very much aligned with the author and as such, has nothing in common with these hard core (biased) readers.

I just reminds me that at Jesus time, his words and actions were incomprehensible to the orthodox Jewish leaders.

E.Patrick Mosman | 1/31/2016 - 3:44pm

Mr Fang,
"Some of the comments about the Pope seem to be quite pathetic as it show both the level of ignorance as well as arrogance of the so called "conservative" American Catholics"
Pathetic, ignorance, arrogance, hard core(biased} to paraphrase the Pope "Who are you to judge" and what evidence is there that conservative Catholics deserve the disparagement simply by opposing the moral relativism, liberation theology and subjective conscience of progressives including the Pope?
"I grew up in a different country and my perception" From your opening sentence it appears that Charity was not featured in your religion education classes or you would have shown a little more respect to fellow Catholics who see things differently for supportable reasons. Perhaps you could
expand on your perception of the One,Holy Catholic Church in which you were apparently raised and how it differs from the Church in other countries.

Douglas Fang | 2/1/2016 - 1:06am

“The moral relativism, liberation theology and subjective conscience of progressives including the Pope?”

Man – Your statement shows that you are losing control intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually! I have nothing to answer to your rants here.

E.Patrick Mosman | 2/1/2016 - 10:17am

Mr Fang,
"Pathetic, ignorance, arrogance, hard core(biased} " Now that is a rant and shows a complete lack of control and understanding. Also a typical liberal/progressive response "attack and smear the messenger, ignore the message". Cardinal Ratzinger in his 1991 address to the American Bishops "Conscience and Truth" explained the falsity of the subjective conscience and moral relativism. Check it out.

Douglas Fang | 2/1/2016 - 1:07pm

For me, I don’t really much care if someone criticizes me. I’m just a lowly nobody loggers out of billions…

However, if someone criticizes the Pope, who I believe is the Vicar of Christ and is chosen by the Holy Spirit, this is the different story. If someone is Catholic and don’t share that view, I don’t have anything more to discuss. I just want to point out the blatant hypocrite when someone try to use orthodoxy to hide their own prejudice and arrogance.

E.Patrick Mosman | 2/1/2016 - 6:47pm

Mr Fang,
"prejudice and arrogance, blatant hypocrite." Once again offering rather extreme judgment and opinion about the person whom you do not know rather than providing facts to support your beliefs and failing to answer any questions. Obviously all you can offer are 'ad hominem' attacks lacking any substance.
Were you a staunch defender of Pope Benedict XVI when he was being strongly criticized by progressive/liberal factions in the Catholic Church, a defender of Pope John Paul II criticized for his outspoken opposition to "liberation theology" priests and a defender of Pope Pius XII accused of being anti-semitic?

Douglas Fang | 2/2/2016 - 1:19am

This is my last comment on this topic:

1. This is an article about the current Pope. Why do want to bring dead or retired Popes to the discussion?
2. I just began to read and blog on this magazine since last year. I haven’t seen or paid enough attention here to the critics from the progressive/liberal factions against Pope Benedict XVI or Pope John Paul II in order to defend them accordingly. For Pope Pius XII, I do not know anything about him or his time so I’ll let God and history judge him.
3. Even though I may have some grumble against the rigidity of Pope Benedict or John Paul, I still love and respect them. I did cry at the funeral of Pope JP and felt sad at the resign of Pope Benedict. For me, they were the Vicar of Christ and were chosen by the Holy Spirit.
4. Thing that upsets me the most is I see that your critics against Pope Francis are based on the type of argument that I truly perceive to be arrogant and ignorant. Or worse, it is totally hypocrite if you still consider yourself a Catholic. A Catholic does not go out and smears the current Pope on the media due to a lack of either knowledge or humility unless he/she doesn’t believe that the Pope is chosen by the Holy Spirit and as such, no longer worthy being a Catholic.

E.Patrick Mosman | 2/2/2016 - 6:46pm

Mr Fang,
"However, if someone criticizes the Pope, who I believe is the Vicar of Christ and is chosen by the Holy Spirit, this is the different story."
Perhaps you are unaware that the Popes, including Pope Francis, are only infallible when they speak/teach ex-cathedra on matter of faith and morals, not when they enter the arena of economics, climate, and other earthly and religious matters that are subject to debate, scientific analysis and factual evidence. Popes have been and will continue to be subject to criticism, deserved or not, as I pointed out whether you agree or not while accusing someone with the term "blatant hypocrite" is thoughtlessly emotional and historically ignorant. I do not doubt your religious faith and you have no basis to doubt mine.

Henry George | 1/28/2016 - 3:30pm

Perhaps the key word for Pope Francis is

"Ideology"

we too often become enamoured of an ideology and then expect the theory behind the ideology to
map perfectly upon the human condition.

Yes - Free Markets can raise many out of poverty but it can also lead to the present situation on Wall Street
where people are making millions just by trading stocks/bonds/currencies back and forth each day and then
"taxing" the holders of those securities for each trade...

Yes - Socialism can provide a safety net for the poor - but slowly but surely the government intrudes into
everyone's life and those who control the government soon can be found controlling every aspect of your life.

As for going to Mass every week and whether that is "enough" for the poor...

Can we please be careful about not judging others spirituality/corporeal acts of mercy/spiritual acts of mercy.
There are Convents/Monasteries whose member pray every day for all of us - they perform no great acts
of corporeal mercy - but they do a good as recognised by the Church and, one may hope, by God.

Pope Francis is a very nuanced thinker and "sound bites" of what he has to say are often not helpful.

Thank you for this article.

E.Patrick Mosman | 1/29/2016 - 2:56pm

"Pope Francis is a very nuanced thinker and "sound bites" of what he has to say are often not helpful."
Nuanced thinking (Nuanced definition, a subtle difference or distinction in expression, meaning, response,) is the realm of politicians and those who seek to sow confusion not for the head of the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church.
The more Pope Francis speaks "off the cuff" before crowds or especially reporters, the more he reminds me of Peter Sellers's Chance the gardener, better known as Chauncey Gardiner, from the movie 'Being There' who spoke simple words, spoken often due to confusion or to a stating of the obvious, which are repeatedly misunderstood as profound and often, in the Pope's case, of a possible/potential change in long held Catholic doctrine which is walked back or explained later by a Vatican spokesperson. Is it any wonder that different people hear different signals when the Pope speaks?

E.Patrick Mosman | 1/25/2016 - 10:47am

The writers, Pope Francis and others fail to define a political ruling system that would encompass their "liberation theology" or "theology of the people". Had a speaker addressed the "people" in Red Square with this article containing the following quotes, minus the religious references to Jesus,Catholic, etc
-"The inadequacy of many of the attempts to understand the orientation of Francis’ papacy is due to neglect of these factors and may explain why some Catholics have been put off by the pope’s criticism of social and economic structures."
-“the dominant system continues to deny billions of our sisters and brothers the most elemental economic, social, and cultural rights. This system is an assault on the project of Jesus.”
-"in 1974, he explained that Christian practice—both religious and political—should be centered on fraternity, solidarity, social justice and the common good rather than on notions like homeland, revolution and the opposition between conservatives and liberals."
what type of political system would any reasoning person assume he was advocating having already denounced capitalism and free enterprise economic systems that have raised millions out of poverty?
One needs to recall that the so-called "workers' paradise" under Communist/Socialist/Fascist rulers failed their workers completely.

The seven practices of charity toward our neighbor, based on Christ’s prophecy of the Last Judgment (Matthew 25:35), that will determine each person’s, not presidents, politicians, nor government bureaucrats, final destiny was taught us from the Baltimore Catechism:
1. Feed the hungry 2. Give drink to the thirsty 3. Clothe the naked 4. Shelter the homeless 5. Visit the sick 6. Visit those in prison 7. Bury the dead
For those who claim that Jesus was a big-government socialist provider with regard to helping those in need and reducing individuals personal responsibility to only “Love the Neighbor’ and replacing it with government programs is a misreading of His message. Jesus Christ made the point “to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” with no guidelines as to how the Romans were
to spend the tax monies. “For you will have the poor always with you” Matthew 26.11 and nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus Christ lay the responsibility for caring for the poor, the sick the hungry or thirsty, the homeless or any oppressed people on any governmental body. He did not cite King Herod, the priests of the temple, the local politicians or the Roman powers as the source of Charity. He made it an individual responsibility time after time in His sermons, in His parables and in His own acts. The Good Samaritan was not an example of “Love thy neighbor” because he stopped at the inn to make a 911 call but because he acted, providing aid, comfort and financial assistance to his neighbor. Jesus Christ’s teachings cannot be used be used to support states becoming the major or only source of charitable acts.

J Cosgrove | 1/31/2016 - 8:46pm

I am going to say something that will upset a lot of people but my comment is directed to the authors.

According the Pew Research Center, 81 percent of Catholics viewed the pope favorably in October, down from 86 percent in June, a dip driven largely by those who attend Mass regularly.

I am probably one of those Catholics (that goes to Mass every week and sometimes on weekdays) that has a less favorable opinion of him in the last year. All of what Pope Frances says sounds good until he gets into economics and secondarily into Church doctrine.

All of this article seems to be about is having a different attitude. The problem is the attitude desired by Pope and the attitudes of the people going to Mass every week are very much in sync with the attitudes wanted. What differs is what they perceive as the actual actions wanted by the Pope.

There is almost no specifics mentioned in any message or by anyone on what is supposed to be done. Ok, relieve the burdens of the poor. The world is already doing that, mostly through efforts by the rich part of the world. Their technology and generosity has been spread to even the darkest corners of the world.

What else is wanted? The Pope and the authors need to get specific or else this is all pious nonsense.

The poor implies a material poverty but a large part of the poor in most of the world live better than did the rich just over a century ago. And in the Western world nearly all the people of 200 years ago had a much rougher life than do the poor of the world today. It is only till a realistic discussion takes place that anything more positive can be accomplished for the poor in various parts of the world.

Otherwise what is is implied by these speeches and letters of the Pope seems to be an attempt to play off the guilt of those who were born into a functional society as if they are some how to blame for the poor or less fortunate who were born into a dysfunctional societies. And that somehow the people in the rich countries should correct this in some unspecified way.

How changes in religious attitudes among those in functional societies creates a functional society where it does not now exist is not ever discussed and until it is, we are just spouting pious nonsense. If all they want is a transfer of money, then that will never work because the problems of the poor countries are more than what money alone can do.

Barry Fitzpatrick | 1/26/2016 - 2:06pm

And so, we satisfy ourselves with rituals that make us feel we are "in sync" with the Pope and don't take up any action to change the situation? You cannot even be remotely serious when you say that "the poor in most of the world live better than did the rich just over a century ago." If you really believe that, then we have NO common ground, none.

The Pope is NOT playing off your guilt. He is reminding you of the core message of the Gospel. To whom much is given, from that person much is expected! We are among those from whom much is expected, and we have not answered the call simply because we go to Mass every week, not in the slightest.

J Cosgrove | 1/27/2016 - 7:43pm

Thank you for your comment and a chance to clarify.

If you really believe that, then we have NO common ground, none.

Well, I believe that and I want to help the poor. Does that mean that you do not want to help the poor? I hope not.

Who is poor varies dramatically from one part of the world to the other. Do we have poor in the United States? A lot of people say so and we have people who are supposed to be in poverty. Here is what is common for the poor in the United States in 2013

Forty-three percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.

Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning . By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.

Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded . More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.

The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe . (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)

Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car ; 31 percent own two or more cars.

Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television ; over half own two or more color televisions.

Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.

Eighty-nine percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.

In 1900 the United States was probably the richest country or becoming the richest country in the world at the time. The very rich could hire servants but the level of living was fairly harsh by today's standards for even the few who made up the elite of the time. Less than 1% of the population had electricity and only in certain cities, none had refrigeration, very few had running water, there were very few sanitary sewer systems or automatic means for waste disposal, there was no local transportation except for horses in nearly all of the country which most did not have. Less than 1 in 10 had a stove. Washing of clothes were done by hand. Medicine was barely existent in any meaningful manner. Life expectancy was 47 years old. Again the very rich had servants but most in the upper incomes did not have this available.

In the rest of the world today who is poor is usually very relative to the overall wealth of the specific country. The poor in central Africa certainly do not have the level of material goods of the poor in the US and those existing on $1.50 a day most certainly do not. But in many parts of the world, countries experienced similar transitions to what happened in the US. South Korea was not so long ago one of the poorer nations in the world but is today fairly developed, while their neighbors to the north are back in the stone age. So today's poor in many of these countries, depending on how they are classified are better than the rich of 1900 in their countries but as I said not in all.

Many of those classified as poor in a majority of the world have conveniences not available in 1900. One example, is that their life expectancy is much higher. In Latin America it rose from 29 years in 1900 to 74 years or 2 1/2 times. In Kenya it doubled from 25 years to 56 years before dipping because HIV in recent years. Literacy in the world went from 21% in 1900 to 83% in 2010. It is 97% in Argentina, 90 % in Mexico and Peru and illiteracy is mostly with the very old in these societies. So the poor in these countries are being educated to some degree.

According to Pew's research, which surveyed about 1,000 people in each African nation, 89 percent of adults now own a smartphone or basic cell phone in South Africa and Nigeria, 83 percent in Senegal and Ghana, 82 percent in Kenya, 73 percent in Tanzania and 65 percent in Uganda. (compared to 89% in the United States)

I could go on and on with statistics but the best video to see the effect the free market has had is the following

http://bit.ly/1S9BM3G

This improvement in most of the world is happening organically as the world progresses without the intervention of the Pope or any of his ideas (whatever they are because nothing is ever specified.) If we allow the free market to work we should see continued progress. This does not mean people or organizations can not help and make it happen quicker. But it does mean that there is a process in place that is working. And it is to this process that one should be looking and not criticizing it.

I don't know what it means to be a good Catholic to you, but you imply that it is more than going to Mass. How we help others is often very personal but as far as charity giving, my wife and I annually give more than Obama (before he became Senator), Joe Biden and Al Gore combined and we did not make as much as any of them.

Antoinette Carbone | 1/24/2016 - 10:14am

An excellent article without labeling conservative or liberal the views of the modern era popes. Pope Francis has much in common with Benedict XVI. In fact I often think of their positions as one articulates, the other shows the action needed to put into effect. We Americans get hung up on labels which become blinders and this makes it difficult to put into action the gospel of life. We need to affirm the dignity of the person, and I believe that can only be understood through education. Education in several areas will give self worth, love of others, and contribute to the well being of the people as presented in this very good article.

Antoinette Carbone | 1/24/2016 - 10:14am

An excellent article without labeling conservative or liberal the views of the modern era popes. Pope Francis has much in common with Benedict XVI. In fact I often think of their positions as one articulates, the other shows the action needed to put into effect. We Americans get hung up on labels which become blinders and this makes it difficult to put into action the gospel of life. We need to affirm the dignity of the person, and I believe that can only be understood through education. Education in several areas will give self worth, love of others, and contribute to the well being of the people as presented in this very good article.

William Rydberg | 1/23/2016 - 11:02pm

In my opinion. This article seems to start out suggesting that there was some kind of structural rupture that deviated from Church teaching prior to Vatican II. This suggestion seems to be at odds with Pope Emeritus Benedict's comments on the subject. My understanding is that Pope Francis is in complete accord with Pope Emeritus Benedict. Let's not mistake Pope Francis charismatic style as evidence of any rupture. We are talking personal styles, not doctrine here in my opinion.

I have also been cautious about the seeming dichotomy re: "The historical Jesus" and Jesus, As it seems to me it's the always the same consistent Divine Person. In my opinion...

I think the brief rehash of the early Liberation Theology experiences is significantly sanitized when one consults the historical record of aberrations. And I don't find in my opinion, the important role of Mexico is sufficiently highlighted.

Just my opinion...

JOHN RATHSCHMIDT | 1/22/2016 - 5:14pm

This is an important article. Not only does it offer a new lens with which to understand Pope Francis' pastoral theology, it challenges us in the developed world to think in new categories and to make time to be among poor people in order to learn from them. Thank you.

Fernando Diaz del Castillo Z. | 11/26/2015 - 6:09pm

Being this interesting article written by two Spanish speaking theologians, would it be possible to have its Spanish version? I would like to have it known by people who doesn´t speak English. Thanks.

Rafael Luciani | 11/30/2015 - 9:32pm

Dear Fernando. Please send me an email to lucianir@bc.edu and I can send you the texts in Spanish. Thank you.

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