Pope Francis' affinity for liberation theology -- wait, what?

For this post, we're not going to critique past the first sentence of this New York Times story on Pope Francis headlined "Francis’ Humility and Emphasis on the Poor Strike a New Tone at the Vatican." To be fair, that headline might have caused half of our Roman Catholic readers to spasm in response. But we're not touching it. We're going to look at just the first line. Here:

VATICAN CITY — He has criticized the “cult of money” and greed he sees driving the world financial system, reflecting his affinity for liberation theology.

Wait, what? Pope Francis' "affinity" for liberation theology"? He sure has a curious way of showing that affinity, no?

Let's go to John Allen over at National Catholic Reporter:

These were the years of the military junta in Argentina, when many priests, including leading Jesuits, were gravitating towards the progressive liberation theology movement. As the Jesuit provincial, Bergoglio insisted on a more traditional reading of Ignatian spirituality, mandating that Jesuits continue to staff parishes and act as chaplains rather than moving into "base communities" and political activism.

The Guardian:

A champion of those who rejected liberation theology, he was considered a candidate that everyone in the higher echelons of the church respects.

Catholic News Agency:

‘Chasm’ Exists Between Pope Francis and Liberation Theology Even though the Holy Father has been praised by liberation theologians, he has always disagreed with that interpretation of the Gospel, even at the cost of finding himself isolated.


Bergoglio is an accomplished theologian who distanced himself from liberation theology early in his career.

From NPR and Michael Sean Winters:

Even as the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was blasting "the tyranny of the markets" and lamenting wealth inequality, he was standing firm against the spread of liberation theology — the leftist economic movement that swept the church in the 1970s and 1980s.

"He's not afraid to duke it out with either the right or the left, inasmuch as neither system really delivers any authentic notion of liberation," says Michael Sean Winters, who writes a blog for the .

Exactly. While neither this pope -- nor many previous popes, to be honest -- is a fan of capitalism, particularly capitalism uninformed by Christianity, that doesn't necessarily make any of them liberation theologians.

It's very difficult to take a story seriously when the very first line is confused about something that's actually been fairly well covered.

For a much more detailed response to the New York Times piece, you can check this out at National Review.

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