A Church for the Poor: Pope Francis and Liberation Theology

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When Bishop Jorge Bergoglio, S.J., of Buenos Aires was inaugurated as the 226th pope in March of 2013, many wondered whether or not the election of the first Latin American pope would mark a significant shift in the Vatican's strained relationship with liberation theology. His predecessors, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict the XVI, had treated this movement with suspicion, scorning it as Marxist and censuring many of its leading advocates. Although Pope Francis has never proclaimed himself to be a liberation theologian, his insistence that the church be "for the poor" and his pointed criticisms of capitalism and consumerism have led many to believe that the Vatican's once hostile relationship to liberation theology has finally begun to warm. Has Pope Francis's papacy brought about a second act for liberation theology? In what way has his pontificate illustrated both the promise and potential problems of this controversial movement?

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