Monday, December 31, 2007

Christianity: the real thing

Today, a friend of mine (who happens to be conservative) sent me an article from the Wall Street Journal that was rather disparaging of liberation theology. The claim was made that it represented "class warfare" since it advocated justice for the poor.

What I don't understand is why it is not considered "class warfare" when the poor are denied an income that allows them to survive without descending into utter destitution?

One of my heroes is the martyred Oscar Romero who started out a conservative but became a proponent of liberation theology when a Jesuit priest and personal friend who labored for the poor was murdered in El Salvador.

Look at something he said on Christmas Eve, 1978:

This is the Christian’s joy: I know that I am a thought in God, no matter how insignificant I may be – the most abandoned of beings, one no one thinks of. Today, when we think of Christmas gifts, how many outcasts no one thinks of! Think to yourselves, you that are outcasts, you that feel you are nothing in history: “I know that I am a thought in God.” Would that my voice might reach the imprisoned like a ray of light, of Christmas hope – might say also to you, the sick, the elderly in the home for the aged, the hospital patients, you that live in shacks and shantytowns, you coffee harvesters trying to garner your only wage for the whole year, you that are tortured: God’s eternal purpose has thought of all of you. He loves you, and, like Mary, incarnates that thought in his womb.

Now look at what he said on New Year's Eve of the same year:

Through the church’s eyes I see the great deficiencies in our Christianity... superstitions, traditionalism, scandal...And those who have money even publish those scandals as though they were defending genuine values. They don’t realize that they are defending the indefensible: a lie, a falsehood, a lifeless traditionalism, and, much worse, certain economic interests, which, lamentably, the church served. But that was a sin of the church, deceiving and not telling the truth when it should have.

And then he said this a week later:

The liberation Christ has brought is of the whole human being. The whole person must be saved: body and soul, individual and society. God’s reign must be established now on earth. That reign of God finds itself hindered, manacled, by many idolatrous misuses of money and power. Those false gods must be overthrown, just as the first evangelizers in the Americas overthrew the false gods that our natives adored. Today the idols are different. They are called money, they are called political interests, they are called national security. As idolatries, they are trying to displace God from his altar. The church declares that people can be happy only when, like the magi, they adore the one true God.

No wonder they killed him.

Holy Oscar Romero, pray for us.

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