(CNS) Pope Francis’ Sept. 11 meeting with Dominican Father Gustavo Gutierrez was an informal one, held in the in the pope’s residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, and not listed on his official schedule. Yet the news that Pope Francis had received the 85-year old Peruvian priest, who is widely considered the father of liberation theology, has excited interest far beyond the Vatican’s walls.
During the 1990s, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith conducted a lengthy critical review of Father Gutierrez’s work, and required him to write and rewrite articles clarifying some of his theological and pastoral points.
But within a single week in early September 2013, the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published an interview with Father Gutierrez, an article by the theologian himself, and two articles praising his work — one of them by the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard L. Muller.
Following years of Vatican criticism of liberation theology under Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, these events might seem to indicate a reversal of policy under Pope Francis. It would be more accurate to say they represent the fruit of a long and painful process, through which the church has clarified the nature of its commitment to the world’s poor today. [More]