: An provocative exchange is beginning on Ibidem, a blog from Spain, regarding liberation theology, a liberal religious cause of the ’60s and since. It usually comes in the context of opression and poverty in Latin America. But a commenter on this blog quotes Irish theologian Seamus Murphy SJ, who brings liberation theology into the context of Iraq and the Vatican’s opposition to the war there:
In Latin America in the 1960s, there emerged a way of doing theology known as the ‘theology of liberation’. Its focus was the poor and the oppressed, its starting-point was their experience, and its inspiration was the God revealed in the story of the people of Israel.
God, the merciful and the compassionate, is a God of justice on the side of the oppressed, and his plan of salvation unfolds in their struggle for liberation….
Liberation theology focuses on the story of the people of Iraq, rather than on abstract philosophical and legal categories….
Since 1968, Iraqis have lived under a brutal dictatorship where the oppression and fear is far worse than any reported from Latin America, as UN and Amnesty International reports show. Since 1979, some 200,000 Iraqis have been murdered in prison. Far more have been tortured….
While liberation theology does not encourage violence, it acknowledges the right of people to defend themselves against murderous repression. Uprisings by Kurds and Shi’ites in 1987-89 and in 1991 were put down in large-scale massacres, sometimes with chemical weapons. If they were to rise again, they would have the world’s sympathy. Liberation theology would say that the Lord, who breaks the rod of the oppressor, was with them. But unaided rebellion would have no prospect of success, and our bystander sympathy, our distant indignation (if we even noticed) would not prevent it being crushed with great slaughter….
But, sadly, Christian solidarity with them is overwhelmed by pacifism, neutralism, and anti-Americanism….
Liberation theology would say: God is with the victims, and failure to stand in solidarity with them is a betrayal of the Gospel.