Liberation Ideology and the Amazonian Synod
Christianity is a religion of Revelation. Christians believe that God revealed God’s-self in the person of Jesus Christ. For those who believe, faith has two poles – subjective and objective.
Objectively Christians consider Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium to be deposits of our God-revealed faith. Subjectively, there are differing ways for Christians to ‘have faith.’
Some may consider Revelation to be something of the past, just a historical event that does not much affect their daily living. Some may consider Revelation to amount to a set of propositions to live one’s life by. Others may want to have a more engaging faith, believing that God is actually revealed to us concretely through our praxis of faith – we come to know God by implementing our ideas about God. Another way of living our faith is when the entire person engages in a personal relationship with God, particularly Jesus. This personalistic model considers God’s Revelation to be ongoing (fully acknowledging the Church’s objective deposit of faith) and experienced through both faith and Sacrament. Or we can hold Revelation to be a ‘blend’ of the above subjective faith responses to God.
Liberation theology conceptualises Revelation as knowledge of God gained through the praxis of faith. However, this style of faith is entirely subjective. It almost entirely downplays the authority of the Church and her teachings. Dogma and magisterium are second fiddle to one’s subjective experience of God. To engage in this style of faith is to almost deny Revelation whilst engaging in one’s subjective notion of discipleship.
It is the effort of such subjective faith to uncover –through praxis– the revelation of God-as-love (as interpreted by the believer). Liberation is from structures of injustice within society which are in opposition to the God of love. In this schema objective truth is not the object of faith. Critically, the emphasis is not that Jesus died for the forgiveness of personal sin, rather sin is objectified as ephemeral injustice (such as climate change). Second, this world’s history becomes the locus of revelation, usurping the true and ongoing Revelation of Jesus Christ and by-passing the Sacraments of His Church.
This social justice style revolution is much of what is happening right now in the Catholic Church. The liberationist agenda promoted by Pope Francis (for example, climate change) is more palatable for the ungodly who think they are not. In Australia (Plenary Council 2020) everyone is being consulted and listened to uncritically and the sensus fidei is at risk of being reduced to the mere expression of personal experience. That experience of the faithful comes from a time of near complete infidelity to Christ and scarily, that personal experience is being exalted above Scripture, Tradition, and the teaching Magisterium. This is welcomed under the guise of Synodality.
An analogy is that the father consults his five children as to how the family should be governed. The little ones insist on more play time, no homework and lollies after dinner. The eldest wants more freedoms and money (for drugs and alcohol, but he doesn’t labour the point). This seems to be the way of the Catholic Church under the current Pontificate. So what will be the fruit of the latest synod in the Amazon?
AMAZON: NEW WAYS FOR THE CHURCH AND FOR A COMPREHENSIVE ECOLOGY
From the introduction: "The Synod of Bishops must increasingly become a privileged instrument for listening to the People of God: “Let us first ask the Holy Spirit, for the Synod Fathers, the gift of listening: to listen to God that with him we may hear the cry of the people; to listen to the people until breathing in it God’s will to which he calls us.”
The document then goes on to say that this “listening implies recognizing the irruption of the Amazon as a new subject. This new subject, who has not been sufficiently considered in the national or world context or in the life of the Church, is now a privileged interlocutor (2).
According to the liberationists view, the Amazon becomes the locus of revelation – “a particular source of God’s revelation” – because in Amazonia, the "caresses of God" is embodied in history (19). This revelation seemingly violated by “the abuses and extermination of the 'Mother Earth'” from which mother earth must be liberated? The working document goes on to explain that the “earth has blood and is bleeding, the multinationals have cut the veins of our 'Mother Earth.' We want our indigenous clamour to be heard throughout the world" .
Is this the Spirit speaking? I doubt that God is concerned more for the extermination of mother earth than for the sinfulness of those individuals (made in the image of God) who abuse and exploit. (NB: God’s liberation is from our personal sinfulness, not ecological injustice!)
The document then articulates the concerns of Mother Earth including “a culture of death” defined as an “the culture of discarding, lying, exploitation and oppression. At the same time, it supposes opposing an insatiable vision of unlimited growth, of the idolatry of money, to a world that is disconnected (from its roots, from its environment)” (17). This is not the culture of death as we know it. What about abortion and euthanasia for starters?
In chapter 11 we get to understand what life in abundance means and see more vividly the liberationist perspective. It’s not exactly life in Christ as envisioned by St Paul (Colossians 3.3 comes to mind). The salvific life the Lord offers “begins with creation ...[and] is reflected in its biodiversity and cultures” reducing our life in Christ and God’s kingdom to this present world which fits into the utopic liberation/Marxist schema. Discerning the light of Christ, “the fulness of all revelation” (the document quotes Dei Verbum 2), is by announcing Jesus Christ and the Good News of the Kingdom of God whilst denouncing “situations of sin, structures of death, violence and ...injustice.” Here the roots of Hegel’s dialectical reasoning can be seen. And note well what is referred to are “situations of sin” meaning that sin is thought to be structural, not personal. Again, Christ liberates us from our sins!
Back to the question: What will be the fruit of the latest synod? All I can see in the Church’s way of Synodality under this Pontificate is the Church’s liberation from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Synodality is just a guise for implementing a human agenda that compromises the deposit of faith and, in practice, the divine life won for us. We see this in Amoris Laetitia where a person living in an “objective situation of sin” could be deemed to be “living in God’s grace” and could therefore be admitted to the Eucharist (AL 305 & footnote 351).
Postscript: One last thought and one last analogy. Let me refer you to the formation of the Biblical canon. When deciding which books were inspired by God, the ‘rule of faith’ was employed as a measure (as well as community reception and being able to be traced back to the Apostles) of objective conformity to God’s divinely revealed Truth. What will guarantee divinely revealed Truths during this time of Synodality?