"Liberation Theology" According to John Paul II

Papal Appeal for Radical Impetus to Solidarity in Aftermath of Jubilee

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 10, 2001 (ZENIT.org).- John Paul II stressed today that the Jubilee that has just ended, must not rest in empty rites but help Christians to renew their unconditional commitment to justice, which can be concretely translated into gestures such as the reduction of the foreign debt of poor countries.

The Pontiff quoted very firm words from the Old and New Testaments, during his traditional Wednesday meeting with pilgrims, and made it clear that God refuses “worship isolated from life, liturgy separated from justice, prayer detached from daily efforts, faith devoid of works.”

The Vatican General Audience Auditorium evidenced that the Holy Year had ended. The number of pilgrims at this second general audience of the year 2001 was considerably reduced, to a total of some 3,000, which gave the meeting a simple and intimate character.

The Pope referred to vibrantly eloquent Biblical passages, such as the voice of the prophet Amos, who depicts God “turning his gaze from us and not accepting the rites, feasts, fasts, music, and supplications, when a just man is sold for money outside the sanctuary, a poor man for a pair of sandals, and the head of the poor is trampled on like dust.”

The Apostle to the Gentiles was no less exacting, the Pontiff said. “In face of a community plagued by divisions and injustice, as Corinth was, Paul reaches the point of calling for the suspension of Eucharistic participation, asking Christians to examine their own conscience first, so as not to be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.”

However, “efforts for justice, the struggle against every oppression, and the safeguarding of the dignity of the person, are not expressions of philanthropy motivated solely by membership in the human family. Instead, they are choices and acts that have a profoundly religious inspiration, they are true and proper sacrifices that are pleasing to God,” the Holy Father added.

John Paul II quoted one of the most thought-provoking Fathers of the Church when he asked: “Do you wish to honor the body of Christ?” St. John Chrysostom replied, “Do not neglect it when it is naked. Do not render it honor here in time with silk fabrics, and then neglect it outside, where it suffers cold and nakedness.”

The Pontiff recalled that, from its Biblical origins in Leviticus, the Jubilee kept justice at the center. It was the year of the liberation of slaves and the restoration of expropriated or lost lands.

“In modern historical coordinates, the return of lost lands could be expressed, as I have proposed several times, in the total cancellation, or at least reduction, of the international debt of poor countries,” the Pope added.

This is, therefore, the “liberation” proposed by the Pontiff at the end of the Jubilee. It is not liberation based on violence or the class struggle, but on “solidarity of the poor among themselves, solidarity with the poor, to which the rich are called, solidarity of workers and with workers.”

Because, at “the end of the life of every person, and at the close of the history of humanity, the judgment of God will be based precisely on love, the practice of justice, and assistance to the poor.”

“Lived in this way, the Jubilee that has just ended will continue to produce abundant fruits of justice, liberty, and love,” John Paul II concluded.

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