In my final paper, I will be analyzing the role that liberation theology played in Brazil during the second half of the 20th century. In this paper I will be exploring ways in which liberation theology affected political, social, economic, and environmental aspects of the Brazilian society. Furthermore, I will explore ways in which liberation theology challenged the Catholic Church, and how this tension affected the impact that liberation theology had in this region.
A source which touched on some of these ideas was the New York Times article “Brazil Tests Limits of Liberation Theology“. This article was written in 1984 during the Vatican’s interrogation of Leonardo Broff, a Brazilian liberation theologian. The journalist mentions the ways in which liberation theology was calling the church to liberate the poor from the economic and social woes they were facing. It is also able to convey how this interrogation by the Vatican represented the tension existing within the Catholic Church at the time. Although the Vatican agreed with some points held by liberation theologians, such as their opposition to oligarchies “without social conscience”, the Vatican was concerned about the ways in which liberation theology was being intertwined with Marxist views they did not support. Furthermore, the Vatican feared that totalitarian or atheist governments could arise for the sake of “liberating” people.
This article discusses the role that ecclesiastical communities in Brazil had in developing a grassroots base for liberation theology in this country, while serving as a means for discussion of “social, economic, and political” issues. I plan to look more into specific ways in which the liberation theology movement affected these different spheres, and how ideas of social justice in liberation theology were linked to ecology. In addition, I plan to discuss in more detail the stance which the Catholic Church held towards liberation theology. Although the article mentions how the Church has “slowly broadened its vision to include social, economic and political rights” the article doesn’t include as much information about how devotion to the poor had already been a part of Catholic tradition, and what aspects of “liberating” the poor deviated from those Catholic teachings.