An “unlikely” alliance is being sought by Brazil’s liberation theologians to the charismatic and other spiritual renewal movements, reports Alejandro Bermudez in the National Catholic Register (Jan. 21-27).
Since its inception in the 1960s and 1970s, liberation theology, which links salvation to social activism, has often scorned the charismatic movement, claiming it is escapist and too individualistic in its theology and social vision. But as liberation theology and its base communities — groups that link social action to theological reflection — have declined and the charismatic movement has mushroomed in Brazil, these theologians are taking a much friendlier attitude to the more conservative renewal groups, Bermudez writes.
The change was seen during a liberation theology conference last summer when theologian Joseph Comblin called for a less negative reappraisal of charismatics. More surprising was a recent article by theologian Clodovis Boff, brother of the leading liberationist Leonardo Boff, who wrote that charismatic movement has to be considered one of the main renewal movements in the history of the church. (Boff added that his brother likewise sees these lay movements as a “new valid expression of the Church.”)
Boff added that the renewal can become “truly liberating” if wedded to liberationist concerns. He noted that a group of young militants in the base communities have suggested the creation of “Charismatic Liberationist Renewal.” For their part, renewal leaders have shown no interest in taking up Boff’s offer of a “strategic alliance.”