Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Amerio on comunism and liberation theology

From Romano Amerio, in Iota Unum, on communism & liberation theology. This is a long section, and he opens by making the observation that the Catholic Church has abandoned and withdrawn from the political sphere. With all the organizations out there, this struck me as odd at first, but he developes the thought by explaining that those Catholic Action groups that were once distinctively Catholic, working for distinctively Catholic ends, have either folded or been molded into something indistinguishable from any other political party...

This is a long chapter, and I've just picked a few comments from the end of it that string together in, I hope, a coherent manner.

Chapter XI

112. The Church and communism in France.

…French bishops’ document sur son dialogue avec les militants chrétiens qui ont fait l’option socialiste (16) contains a confusion between “the action of the Holy Spirit” and workers’ agitation(17); the communist movement, which is perfectly explicable by the ordinary historical forces that drive events, is taken as one of those movements that result from the supernatural impulses of the Holy Spirit:(18) in short the document turns the social struggle of the age into a religious phenomenon. This imprecise, novel, and immanentist thinking fails to distinguish between the Holy Spirit and the workings of Providence that draw human events to their predestined goal, and fails to see that the Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church, but not of the human race as such.

16. “On its dialogue with Christians who have taken the socialist option,” in Documentation Catholique, 29 May 1972, 471ff)…

17. The communist movement’s being thus an effect of the Holy Spirit makes it easier to understand the introduction of Karl Marx into a Missel des dimanches (Sunday Mass booklet) promulgated by the French bishops, shortly after the council and again in 1983 in connection with the centenary of Marx’s death, where on p. 139 we find a commemoration of the founder of communism on 14 March, the day of his death.

18. Sections 16-17 of the document.

118. The document of the seventeen bishops.

The document signed by seventeen bishops from around the world and published by Témoignage Chrétien (1967) is of more importance. It makes the transition from a positive attitude towards communism, to liberation theology.

119. Judgment on the document of the Seventeen.

The conclusion of the bishops’ document is quite unambiguous, but its premises are false. Whether as a system of thought or as the practice of that thought, by the admission of its own theoreticians and by the judgment of all the popes, communism is not merely a social system that bishops can welcome as one of the many possible forms of political organization; it is a complete axiological system intrinsically repugnant to the Catholic system. […] The movement from the Marxist option to liberation theology is only possible because the seventeen bishops fail to grasp both the nature of communism and the nature of Christianity itself. Externally their applause for the class struggle ill accords with the condemnations of the Church’s teaching office and also raises questions about the coherence of the hierarchy; internally, the document departs from Catholic thought on at least two points. Because of its defective understanding of God’s dealings with the world, it says nothing about the eschatological nature of Christianity, whereby earth is seen as being made for heaven, and a full grasp of man’s destiny can only be had from beyond the walls of time. Yet again, because of its faulty view of history the document fails to state that Christianity traces the origin of social injustice to moral disorder, and as a result injustice is to be found throughout the whole body of society and cannot be attributed exclusively to those who enjoy material prosperity. In short, the document lacks calmness of judgment, because the bishops side exclusively with one party, and entirely overlook the Catholic worker’s movement that were rejected by the rich; it also lacks that more exalted calm that comes from a religious spirit and which can detect a goal beyond history as it surveys the record of the past. This is no real theory of history, but an immanentist philosophy only interested in liberation from worldly misfortune, and looking only to human self-improvement to achieve it.

120. Options of certain Christians, continued.

In Mgr. Fragoso’s case the new heavens and the new earth do not transcend but rather continue the present creation and so the goal of the world becomes the continuation of the same world; the subjection of all things to God disappears, and the Church is confused with the organization of the human race. When transcendent realities have been eclipsed, earthly purposes can be preserved with an absoluteness appropriate to ultimate ends, and submission to the laws of obedience and patient fortitude is overthrown by the right to happiness in this present life.

Problems that properly belong to politics become religious problems and the Church has to take on the problems of hunger, drought, hygiene, population control and everything else that is now included under the term “development.”

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