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Religion Notes

'Liberation Theology' Clerics Meet in Mexico

December 20, 1986|Compiled from, wire and staff reports

Leading Roman Catholic clerics identified with "liberation theology" attended a week-long seminar in Mexico to discuss ways to spread their ideas in the Third World, despite the reservations of Pope John Paul II about the political objectives of the movement.

The clerics at the conference sent a message of support to Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Miguel d'Escoto, a priest in the Maryknoll order. D'Escoto defied Pope John Paul's demand that he leave his office, and was suspended from his priestly duties.

Open sessions were held in Mexico City and closed-door meetings in the resort of Oaxtepec, 25 miles south of the capital. The seminar got off to a tense start when conservative Catholic Mexican youths disrupted the opening session, shouting "John Paul II, the whole world loves you" and other pro-Vatican slogans.

Father Gustavo Gutierrez of Peru, one of the movement's founders, summed up the conference by saying: "If I am hungry, it is a personal problem. If someone else is hungry, it is a spiritual problem. Disgracefully, in Latin America, we have millions and millions of spiritual problems."

Gutierrez was joined by a group forming a virtual Who's Who of the movement, including Jose Miguez Bonino of Argentina, Leonardo Boff of Brazil and church leaders from outside Latin America.

Boff told the symposium that violence is a justifiable defense when human rights are violated. "The use of violence is legitimate in those cases. This is a situation that is the reality in several Latin American countries. . . . The play of forces in the capitalist system does not allow the people to follow any other path than that," he said.

Carlos Abesamis, a Filipino priest, said the political changes in his country were not enough to help its "really poor." "We had a political revolution with (President) Cory Aquino, but we still have not had a social revolution."

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