The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Quote of the day

posted by jmcgee

“It’s hard to ignore the fact that Jesus chose to be born poor; he worked as what many scholars now say was not simply a carpenter, but what might be called a day laborer; he spent his days and nights with the poor; he and his disciples lived with few if any possessions; he advocated tirelessly for the poor in a time when poverty was considered to be a curse; he placed the poor in many of his parables as over and above the rich; and he died an utterly poor man, with only a single seamless garment to his name. Jesus lived and died as a poor man. Why is this so hard for some modern-day Christians to see?”

– James Martin, S.J., while taking aim at Glenn Beck’s idea of liberation theology.
 


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Moonshadow

posted August 29, 2010 at 5:50 pm


Thank goodness for Fr. Martin.



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Mary

posted August 29, 2010 at 6:25 pm


I don’t object to what Fr. Martin’s point is but I do object to liberation theology and a paragraph in his column. Jesus did not come to upset the “social structures” of the day as written here:
“Perhaps more importantly (at least in my reading), it sees the figure of Jesus Christ as the “liberator,” who frees people from bondage and slavery of all kinds. So, as he does in the Gospels, Christ not only frees us from sin and illness, Christ also desires to free our fellow human beings from the social structures that keep them impoverished. This is this kind of “liberation” being espoused. Liberation theologians meditate deeply on Gospel stories that show Christ upending the social structures of the day, in order to bring more—uh oh—social justice into the world. We are also asked to make, as the saying a “preferential option for the poor”
Jesus was not a social and political revolutionary or liberator. He talked to people about living within the social structures of the day but to do so in love and charity.He asks us to individually behave better, to give alms to the poor, to not discriminate etc. on a very individual level – for what end? salvation-meaning eternal relationship with God. Liberation theology often leaves out the individual’s end point as relationship with God for social action with and end point in social justice. These are worthy goals but not the ultimate goals. As a social worker, I often cry that we lower our standard with the liberation theology view of Jesus who also said the poor will always be with you.
The first commandment is to love God. When one really does that the second follows. The second, love your neighbor, does not always result in the first. Does salvation come from the first, second or both? And what happens to revolutionaries who want to rescue the poor from the social structures of the day? I don’t know but history is littered with many such false prophets.



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adriano

posted August 29, 2010 at 7:02 pm


Here in Brazil we look at the fruits of the liberation theology,and the conclusion is that they failed.
The liberation theology is dying,catholics dont like this kind of theology,today the poor people are running away from the liberation theology too.
They poor people like to be helped,but they prefer the Church following a profound spiritual path,the Church is not a simple NGO.
LT members tried to transform the Church in a non governamental organization ,and Socialists and marxists tried to use the Church for their political intentions,and the catholics didnt like that.
The poor people helped by liberation theologists,they became protestants,the poor dont like to be poor,and they can see when they are in front of a weak way.
Its a mistake to believe that the social justice and the love promoted by liberation theologists followers is the same of the Church.



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J. gerbil

posted August 29, 2010 at 8:55 pm


I don’t presume to be as educated and as smart as Father Martin, who was fired from America after some comment he made during JP11’s funeral.
However, may I offer that social justice is a code word for welfare?
Americans are extremely generous in their offerings. However, the American was is to grow opportunity and wealth and not to redistribute which your beloved president Obama is doing.
People can stop and ponder why in this once great nation are people poor. People are poor because they don’t follow the rules: Graduate from high school, get a career/profession/trade, no alcohol or drug abuse, marry and then have children. Other that the mentally and physically handicapped, look around at the poor…..I guarantee that each one will have failed part or all of these rules.
It is not American to give welfare and more welfare and more welfare in an endless cycle. It keeps everyone dependent on the govt forever and ever and ever!!!



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Rick

posted August 29, 2010 at 9:29 pm


I join in wondering in what way Jesus freed “human beings from the social structures” that kept them impoverished. And in what way did He upend “the social structures of the day, in order to bring more—uh oh—social justice into the world”?



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R Plavo

posted August 29, 2010 at 9:41 pm


Mary, please read I John 4, it’s spelled out very clearly, love of God and neighbor go hand in hand, you love God, you love neighbor, you love neighbor, you love God. simple



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cathyf

posted August 29, 2010 at 9:45 pm


It seems to me that the true liberation of the poor is directly correlated with the level of success that The Law has in eliminating theft, perjury and covetousness — the three central tenets of liberation theology.



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Brian

posted August 29, 2010 at 10:53 pm


Social justice and welfare have nothing to do with each other. Only a mis-informed person would even believe that.



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J Cleary

posted August 29, 2010 at 11:12 pm


Gerbil– your entitled to your own opinions as to linking liberation theology with welfare but Father Martin was not ” fired” from America magazine.



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flatrocker

posted August 29, 2010 at 11:16 pm


Good intentions tend to lead us to paths we did not foresee taking. Liberation theology leads us in our desire to “just do something” about the injustice that surrounds us. So on the “feel good” side, we carry Christian placards in front of City Hall and we boldly claim to be doing Christ’s work. At the other end of the spectrum, we see justified killings – whether they be abortionists or third world oppressors – all in the name of doing God’s work. For God’s sake, we can’t just sit around and do nothing!
When Pilate mingled the blood of the Galileans, did Jesus instruct the faithful to protest in front of the preatorium? When the tower of Siloam fell and killed 18 people, did Jesus incite his followers to march on city hall demanding building code reforms? Oh and what’s up with all those pesky Crucifixions – how many petitions did Jesus get signed and forwarded to Rome demanding they be stopped immediatley or else? And don’t we all know He should have picked up that sword in Gethsemene if only He had a chance.
He didn’t do any of that.
All He said was repent and turn to the Lord.
Sounds too simple doesn’t it?



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BobRN

posted August 30, 2010 at 3:20 am


I read Fr. Gutierrez’s book “A Theology of Liberation”, though it was many years ago. I also heard him speak once here in Knoxville.
In my mind, the good part of liberation theology is that it does challenge us to go beyond meeting the immediate needs of the poor to addressing and challenging the social structures that contribute to poverty and exacerbate the plight of the poor; while the down side is that it views all social structures and relationships, including one’s relationship with God and the mission of Jesus, in terms of class struggle. If LT isn’t Marxist, it’s a short leap from one to the other, which is why it was so often and so easily exploited by Marxists and social reactionaries.
Changing social structures is part and parcel with the Gospel. Look to the example of Catholics in Eastern Europe and the Philippines just a few years ago, and to Christians in the abolition and civil rights movements here in the U. S. What more could be done to help eleviate poverty than secure a just wage for all and access to education?
I think Catholics should pray and think long and hard before giving support to the likes of Glenn Beck. He doesn’t speak for this Catholic.



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Klaire

posted August 30, 2010 at 3:25 am


Father Jim if I’m not mistaken, Beck got his definition from Pope Benedict XVI! I even remember being shocked after hearing him give credit to him on one of his shows.
Pope Benedict has very clearly said that “black liberation theology” is disguised Marxism, and Wright’s church in Chicago totally fits the bill. Had you seen the website pre Obama, there would be no doubt that it’s a Marxist church under the guise of “Christianity.” Anyone is free to deny or beleive whatever, but it’s a rock solid fact that Barack Obama sat in a Marxist ‘church’ for 20 years.
How long would any of us sit in a Marxist, anti-white church?
I read your article twice, thinking I might be missing something. I certianly don’t agree with Beck on everything, and even more so recently, but I also don’t discount all of the good that he does.
I agree that he misses the boat on (authentic) social justice, but not so much, IMO, on liberation theology. At least to the extent he is concerned, I’m convinced he is right on with the same problems LT presented in South America.
Most of all, Beck is a hugh fan of the poor. For heaven’s sake, he just donated a half of a million dollars to the families of our military. I really don’t understand your poverty example, as it’s so “not Beck.” Do you ever watch or listen to him on any regular basis?
Also, a reminder that only about 5 years ago, Beck himself was poor; couldn’t even make his rent. He may not be a whiz in Catholic Theology, but for a man as broken and in the gutter as Beck was, to go from the gutter to making 58M a year and having as much influence in American Politics as he does, there has to be some “power” at work on him. Doesn’t God usually humble us with the least likely?
Let’s face it, Beck is out there promoting God, with all his warts and scratches and brokeness. It’s as far cry from what anyone else in the MSM has the guts to do.
Again, I don’t agree with Beck on everything, but I do agree with his overall call for America to return to God. How could that not be our answer?
Sadly, the left has been so successful in the “undermining” of words, I dare say we are in a “Semantic tower of Babal of sorts.”
God Bless Father Jim, and know that I respectfully disagree with you.



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romancrusader

posted August 30, 2010 at 7:34 am


Liberation theology is communism. Pure and simple. Anyone who supports it either air headed or a liar.



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Rudy

posted August 30, 2010 at 9:40 am


I would ask Father Martin what John Paul II and Benedict XVI have taught,said and declared about Liberation Theology. I have enjoyed Father Martin’s books, but he has his political and philosophical bias.



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Panthera

posted August 30, 2010 at 10:11 am


Wow. Just, wow.
Jesus did not come to reform?
Jesus did not advocate a more just society?
Social justice=welfare=Marxism?!
This is Christianity?



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adriano

posted August 30, 2010 at 10:29 am


Catholics always help persons in need.
We always do and always will.
We have orders,movements,diocesan works,every person in the way they can.
The biggest lie that come from liberation theologists is that they are the best way to do this.
We can help the poor,we can do social justice,but we dont need the liberation theology to do that.



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RomCath

posted August 30, 2010 at 10:52 am


It seems to me that if one listens to the demands of the Gospel, one will be mindful of the poor and the needs of others. We call reaching out to others the “Corporal Works of Mercy”. I don’t think we need the buzz words liberation theology and social justice. They are part of being a disciple of Christ.
Wasn’t Leonardo Boff one of the first preachers of Liberation Theology? He was silenced at one time and later left the priesthood.



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romancrusader

posted August 30, 2010 at 11:24 am


I think that many liberation theologians have this mistaken notion that we can have a heaven on earth. And that is why I’m so opposed to liberation theology. Matter of fact Jesus even says in the Gospels in Matthew 4:4 “It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.”



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Klaire

posted August 30, 2010 at 11:27 am


Panthera, your quote:
Wow. Just, wow.
Jesus did not come to reform?
Jesus did not advocate a more just society?
Social justice=welfare=Marxism?!
=========================
You ask, “Is this Christianity?”
That’s the point Panthera, it’s NOT. Unlike the legit social justice (STARTED by the CC), SJ has been hijacked by the left, the same way that “liberation theology” was. If you need proof, know that all authentic social justice, in accordance with the Catholic Church, starts with respect of life in the womb, AND subsidiarity (local level always, government only to get involved in extreme situations).
Pope Benedict makes this more than clear in his last encyclical, also taken from the former Papal Encyclicals on SJ.
The reality is Panthera, by today’s (left) standards, even Jesus would be considered a “racist.” That alone should be proof to anyone that we are in serious trouble, politically speaking.



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Panthera

posted August 30, 2010 at 11:42 am


Klaire,
And yet – here I, a leftist, liberal Christian and firm believer in social justice, opposing the death penalty and opposing torture and the conservative Christians here are advocating both.
Which, on those two – admittedly teeny, tiny, nearly irrelevant points when compared to stripping people of their civil rights – on the side of the Vatican and the conservative Christians in opposition.
That is the problem here – when it serves your purposes, you conservative Christians are just as much cafeteria patrons as you claim I am.
Basically, you argue for social justice as long as somebody is still in the womb, yet the moment they are born you oppose everything which furthers human dignity.



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adriano

posted August 30, 2010 at 11:46 am


see two examples:
Here in Brazil, liberation theology members endorse one movement called MST.
MST members take land from others by force and invasions,and sometimes they kill people and destroy these places.
They think its social justice.
Meanwhile,members from communion and liberation are helping people without land to be organized,theyre buying land at low cost and building a place to live.
And theyre helping young and poor persons to enter the university.
When we are looking for “liberation”,we first need to ask which kind of liberation we want…



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RomCath

posted August 30, 2010 at 11:54 am


How many times must we be subjected to the disparaging term “conservative Christians” ???????????????????? I thought the Deacon commented on the use of that term.



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wineinthewater

posted August 30, 2010 at 12:43 pm


I think it is worth while to recognize that there is no such thing as a monolithic “Liberation Theology,” but rather there are a diversity of “Theologies of Liberation.” Some theologies of liberation are fully and completely orthodox, some are thinly veiled Marxism. Pope John Paul II’s personal crusade against Communism is actually an example of a theology of liberation. He saw the Communist states of Eastern Europe as a structure of sin that must be dismantled in order for people to have the freedom of religion.
Unfortunately, in popular use, the term has come to mean the Marxist variety and the orthodox versions have become relegated to near-obscurity.



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Panthera

posted August 30, 2010 at 4:22 pm


wineinthewater said:
Pope John Paul II’s personal crusade against Communism is actually an example of a theology of liberation.
endquote
Why, yes, it was. And he did it not in the safety of a comfortable chair in front of a computer, pretending to be persecuted by liberal Christians.
He did it under the yoke of murderous, torturing, jack-booted Nazis.
And then, he did it again under the yoke of murderous, torturing, jack-booted communists.
That is true liberation theology.
RomCath,
When Dr. Tiller was murdered, you were one of many here who pointed out to me that it is not fair (well, you weren’t nearly so nice and, actually, you defended one death to save many, but anyway…) to accuse all anti-choice Christians of being murderers and bomb-throwers just because some are.
That same principle applies to liberation theology.
And you will be subjected to indignant Christian responses as long as you support regimes (like Bush #43) which torture.
And, as long as you interpret the clear words of several popes that the death penalty is wrong to mean it’s fine and dandy.
My Christian position as a liberal Christian on torture and the death penalty is 100% that of the Vatican – which inclined, if recall arightly, toward Roman Catholicism, the last time I read L’Osservatore Romano.
Your position, here, is neither Catholic nor Christian. It is simply one of using Christianity to excuse your own desires for revenge.



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RomCath

posted August 30, 2010 at 5:38 pm


First of all, when Dr. Tiller was murdered I didn’t even know this blog existed so don’t even try to say that I approved of it. I certainly did not. That is an outright lie. Perhaps someone with a similar name made that comment.
I find it rather paradoxical for one to be so vehement against the death penalty yet find it OK to abort babies. I don’t support either–get it?
Your positions on certain issues may be 100 percent but on others is zero. So if that is what makes a “liberal” Christian, count me out of the cafeteria.



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted August 30, 2010 at 7:39 pm


Pan …
You’re treading into dangerous waters. Again. Please tone it down a notch. Or two.
I’ll thank you to stop hurling around the labels “conservative” and “liberal” so definitively — and to stop, as well, ascribing motives to peoples’ comments (as in RomCath’s “desire for revenge.”) That’s really over the top, Pan, even for you.
Thank you,
Dcn. G.



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Panthera

posted August 31, 2010 at 10:07 am


Deacon Kandra,
My apologies.
RomCath, I won’t pretend you don’t make my angry – you do. That is, however, my problem and not yours. We are similar in our absolutism, and because our absolute sense of right and wrong is frequently diametrically opposed, conflict is inevitable.
That doesn’t excuse my being unkind to you and I apologize.
You asked about abortion. You won’t care for my answer.
I can ask a woman not to chose to abort, yet I have no standing to tell her what to do with her body. I will never be raped or the victim of incest. I shall never have to choose between my four living children and dying with the fifth growing in me.
I have read the argument here, frequently, that it is better to forbid abortion absolutely and to accept the lowered death rate of women bleeding to death in back alleys from coat-hanger abortions.
I find this abhorrent.
I followed the arguments against health care reform here. That it would be better to allow many children and adults to suffer and die than to permit passage of such reform if it did not simultaneously overturn other legislation permitting abortion.
I found this contra-productive and illogical.
My family’s foundation donates money and time to helping young women keep their baby and putting the child up for adoption after the birth of the child should they so desire.
I strongly support sex-education to prevent unexpected pregnancy. I also believe a barrier form of contraception is infinitely preferable to an abortion.
Reluctantly, because I have not standing, I accept abortion prior to 12 weeks – that being the point at which a non-zero number of Christian and Jewish theologians whom I respect believe the soul enters the body.
It seems to me that when one narrows everything down to one or two battle fronts in the culture wars, one places oneself at great risk for exactly that against which this quote of the day warns – Jesus called us to work together against all the sufferings of this world, especially those of the poor, elderly women and the oppressed.
I am saddened that Ronald Reagan’s policy – a man who agrees with me on eight out of ten issues is my friend, not my enemy, governs our Christian intercourse.
It does, though. Completely.



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Panthera

posted August 31, 2010 at 10:09 am


Make that, please, “does not govern”.



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Klaire

posted September 2, 2010 at 8:52 am


This article was written by a Catholic writer who knows a thing or two about liberation theology. Anyone truly wishing to understand both the view of the Catholic Church AND Barack Obama’s relation to this teaching, would be wise to read what she has to say. It’s heaviy based on the writings of both Popes, Benedict XVI and JPII.
Clearly, Beck has it right. It should give clarity to anyone who still believes we have a Christian president, especially one who on a regular basis, preaches ” Collective redemptive politics.”
She even quotes Pope Benedict as teaching the following:
“Wherever politics tries to be redemptive, it is promising too much. Where it wishes to do the work of God, it becomes, not divine, but demonic”
Here’s the link:
http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/09/becks_obsession_with_black_lib.html



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JONathan

posted April 28, 2011 at 5:51 pm


Father Martin,it is a gift from GOD that Christians can look at it the way you do.That for a man to suffer for the love of GOD is a gift worthy of our Savior Jesus Christ.That Christians called upon by GOD to travel that path will understand.GOD BLESS YOU FATHER.



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