Febr. 12, 2003: agencia CubDest.

Social Forum, Liberation Theologians, and "New World Power"

Just as Friar Betto recognized, the revolutionary "mysticism" to which Liberation Theology can contribute is even more radical than that of the communists themselves.

Well-known representatives of Latin-American Liberation Theology (LT) gave an interview at the Third World Social Forum of Porto Alegre (FSM) showing just how happy they were with the electoral victory of Lula in Brazil. This fact, according to the Brazilian liberation theologian Friar Betto -- close friend of dictator Fidel Castro and one of the main advisors to President Lula -- will be "the first ascending curve the worldwide left will take since the fall of the Berlin Wall." Similarly, the Brazilian Franciscan ex-friar Leonardo Boff also interpreted this triumph as "a great chance which opens up for the left and socialism."

Besides Friar Betto and Boff, the following were present: the Peruvian priest Gustavo Gutierrez, one of the founders of LT; the Catholic bishop, Most Rev. Samuel Ruiz, of Chiapas, Mexico; the Brazilian bishops Tomas Balduino, Mauro Morelli, Franco Masserdotti and Demetrio Valentini, of the most radical wing of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB); as well as, in the words of Friar Betto, "many priests, religious and innumerable laymen, militants of the grassroots Christian communities (CEBs)," who militate in the Workers' Party (PT), the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST), the Workers Union Central (CUT), and so on. According to the "liberationist" religious Brazilian Marcelo Barros, the Church in this country "is ever more present and engaged in the process of the FSM, through Caritas and some organisms of the CNBB." Because of this, he found the presence of the president of the CNBB, Bishop Jaime Chemello, to be significant for the inaugural acts of the Third World Social Forum.

According to the Italian agency Adista, the "liberationists" present at the 3rd FSM said that "without the grassroots Christian communities and without liberation theology, the Workers' Party would not have been born and Lula would not have been able to win the presidency of Brazil." Friar Betto, during the seminars on Faith and Politics, said this was exactly the profound sense of President Lula's affirmation during his speech in Porto Alegre, "I am the work and result of the work you all carried on throughout these years."

However, the liberation theologians were not satisfied with having contributed decisively to the leftist victory in Brazil. They now dream of using the FSM as a trampoline to achieve influence world wide. For Leonardo Boff, the FSM, after having been "ridiculed" in the beginning, today "has transformed itself into a new world power," capable of "generating a 'quantic force' which is no longer able to be slowed down." Friar Betto, reiterating that "out of ideological conviction" he believes "that the only way out for the future of humanity is socialism," showed "hope" that the FSM "will multiply itself in a thousand Forums throughout the world."

The politically explosive "mysticism" that LT is able to bring to the FSM and to revolutionary movements in general had already been spoken of by Friar Betto at the 2nd FSM, in January, 2002. In front of an auditorium of priests, religious and thousands of militants of the grassroots Christian communities (CEBs) who applauded him over and over again, he said future society will define itself in a single word: "socialism." And after asking for a round of applause for Karl Marx, he shockingly added that the "new man" ought to be "the son of the marriage of Ernesto Che Guevarra and Saint Therese of Jesus." This year, in the 3rd FSM, Friar Betto broached the idea of a "militant spirituality," which would serve as revolutionary "ferment." He presented a unique conception of the "Kingdom of God" which would go beyond even the communists themselves in radicality. To illustrate the idea, he spoke of a conversation of communist militants in the 60s when they found themselves together in jail, accused of guerilla activities, "The difference between us Christians and you is that when we reach the communist society, you will be satisfied, but we won't. We will continue seeking out the "kingdom of God" on earth, because the Christian is always a subversive in any historical circumstance he finds himself in."

When LT followers affirm they now feel like they are taking the first "ascending curve" of the left since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, they implicitly recognize what happened during almost 15 years of stagnation or, perhaps, a "descending curve."Actually, during this time, in countries such as Brazil, they were able to "conscientize" revolutionary leaders and in this way augment their influence in political and union spheres. However, they were unable to attain one of their most prized goals: to captivate and drag along the popular Latino-American masses. Thanks be to God, those people, with their popular religiousness and instinctively anti-revolutionary convictions give them the cold shoulder until today.

Undoubtedly, this decisive reversal of LT was helped along by the fact that, in the rank and file of the Catholic laity, there were valiant and lucid voices that were raised to denounce the alliance of LT with communism, showing how it is opposed by the traditional teachings of the Church and, because of that, should be consciously rejected by all Catholics.

Now, the future of Brazil, of Latin America and the world will again depend on those who are disposed to raise their voices, invariably in accordance with the laws of God and of men, to make this "ascending curve" of the left turn back, so that by opposing the dreams of the liberation theologians, the FSM will be unable to consolidate itself into a revolutionary "new world power."