Evangelii Nuntiandi 32: Christian Liberation Message Rooted in Christ

With the recent discussion on liberation, Pope Paul was careful to note that simply advocating for liberation is not enough, even if the impulse is generous and positive in intent:

32. We must not ignore the fact that many, even generous Christians who are sensitive to the dramatic questions involved in the problem of liberation, in their wish to commit the Church to the liberation effort are frequently tempted to reduce her mission to the dimensions of a simply temporal project. They would reduce her aims to a (human)-centered goal; the salvation of which she is the messenger would be reduced to material well-being. Her activity, forgetful of all spiritual and religious preoccupation, would become initiatives of the political or social order. But if this were so, the Church would lose her fundamental meaning. Her message of liberation would no longer have any originality and would easily be open to monopolization and manipulation by ideological systems and political parties. She would have no more authority to proclaim freedom as in the name of God. This is why we have wished to emphasize, in the same address at the opening of the Synod, “the need to restate clearly the specifically religious finality of evangelization. This latter would lose its reason for existence if it were to diverge from the religious axis that guides it: the kingdom of God, before anything else, in its fully theological meaning….”[Paul VI, Address for the opening of the Third General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (27 September 1974): AAS 66 (1974), p. 562]

Count me as convinced of the importance of the Gospel message. But it must be said that human ideologies can and do manipulate those who espouse more of a “spiritual and religious preoccupation.” Careful discernment is always needed. Do Christians avoid the issue of liberation because it is too ideological? Or because it is simply unpopular in some quarters?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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