Like all heresies, liberation theology is not completely wrong, rather incompletely right. A heresy is a partial truth or a distortion of the truth. In this case, the church’s love for the poor and compassion for the suffering—which is properly the result of being transformed by the saving grace of following Christ—has replaced the primary mission of the church, which is the salvation of souls. In other words, they have put the second great commandment (to love your neighbor) in front of the first (to love God). As a result priests become social workers, politicians and revolutionaries rather than the pastors of souls.
Archbishop Romero was on the side of the poor. He criticized oppressive governments. He called for peace and justice, but first and foremost he was a holy priest. In his diary on 4 February 1943 Romero wrote, "In recent days the Lord has inspired in me a great desire for holiness…. I have been thinking of how far a soul can ascend if it lets itself be possessed entirely by God.” His love for the poor, his simple life and his final martyrdom confirms that Oscar Romero had the right priorities: First to love God, and in response to love his neighbor.
Fr Dwight Longeneckeris parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary, Greenville, South Carolina. Visit his blog, browse his books and be in touch at dwightlongenecker.com