First Things: LETTERS FROM THE SYNOD-2019: #9
First something on liberation theology:
The fact that “the project” is a northern European export has long been clear, although digging deeply into the history of ideas in modern Catholicism is necessary to grasp the point. For over forty years now, the world media’s presentation of liberation theology as an indigenous, populist phenomenon native to Latin America—a bit of fake news amplified by Catholic enthusiasts for “the project”—has done a good job of obscuring who-taught-what-to-whom. The fact of the matter, however, is that virtually nothing in the various Latin American liberation theologies criticized by St. John Paul II at the 1979 Puebla conference of the Latin American episcopate, or rejected in the 1984 Instruction on Certain Aspects of the Theology of Liberation issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was native to Latin America. The reading of history, the ecclesiology, the concept of the sacraments and the ministry that shaped most liberation theologies was exported to Latin America from Belgian, French, and German theological faculties through which Hegelian and Marxist winds had blown with considerable force in the late 1960s. Those radical reconsiderations of the nature of the Church, its mission, and its relationship to both the unconverted and to politics—some of it the work of very intelligent but deeply wrongheaded men—was carried home by romantic and passionate young Latin American priests who had studied in those faculties, and who would become bishops in the latter part of the twentieth century. These currents of thought were highly influential in the Brazilian bishops conference in particular.And he raises a good question, but it may be too late for such an untangling to resort, at least not without drastic changes in the practices of the "institutional" Church.
In several major cities of Latin America, especially the old viceroyal capitals, the visitor cannot help but notice the proximity of the viceregal palace to the cathedral, usually in a great plaza. Has that historic linkage between Church and state power—whatever its historic accomplishments—become an obstacle to realizing the evangelizing mission of the Church in the twenty-first century, especially when the alliance today is with failed socialist regimes? That certainly ought to have been a topic of discussion in a synod dedicated to “new paths for the Church.” Was it? If so, its echoes outside the Synod Hall were faint.
As usual with regards to the Amazon synod, he overestimates the problem because he cannot see that the patriarchate of Rome is not identical to the Church Universal, but he is probably correct in identifying the difficulties posed by the synod and the current pontificate of Francis, which serve not to undermine the Church but actually Latin claims about the office of the bishop of Rome with respect to the Church Universal.
See also Rod Dreher, The Pachamama Synod Ends and Marco Tosatti
Weigel's essay was also republished at EPPC.