“Although its roots are often attributed to Latin America, liberation theology was born in German schools of theology in the early twentieth century,” says Ismael Hernandez in this week’s Acton Commentary. “From this birthplace in the ivory towers of the Old World, priests and theologians brought it to the jungles and plains of the New.”
Troubled by the genuine needs of the natives, these populist theologians challenged the pre-capitalist system that perpetuated the poverty of Latin lands. Energized by their vision of change and social justice and eager to make a mark of their own, they went to the favelas and barrios where desperate poverty cried out to God. There they found no solid middle class and no traditions of democracy, only abject poverty on one side and heedless opulence on the other. In the Church they found the piety of folk Catholicism with no social conscience and a structural alignment with elites. They offered as a solution a concoction of Marxist analysis and Christian praxis.