The Vatican doctrinal chief sits down with Aleteia Poland in this wide-ranging, exclusive interview.
My last question concerns liberation theology, which I know Your Eminence is interested in. Some Catholics show a persistently reserved approach to it. What is the essence of liberation theology and what can be learned from theologians who adhere to it?
Cardinal Müller: The starting point of liberation theology is: “How can I think about the Divine love in the face of abject poverty and blatant injustice that exist in the world, in South and Central America, in the communities which are predominantly Catholic? Why shouldn’t the Catholic faith provide assistance to social equality and the dignity of each and every human person?”
Here, in the Church, we provide a response that does not resemble that given by the communists. The communists said: “Everything is going to be better in this world,” and these promises were followed only by hell. We, on our part, say: “Through God everything becomes better.” At the same time, we are called to assume responsibility for this world, to get involved and use our reason to care for education, food, housing, and work, for the sake of a good and positive social development.
We have the Catholic social teaching with its principles of respect for the human person, subsidiarity and solidarity. We have these fundamental principles and therefore want to get involved, as the Church and as Christians, so that society might develop well. Not in materialistic terms, though. The temporal is the way towards the timeless, the eternal. This is a union of the way and the aim. Christ is the Way and the Aim. He is Truth and Life.
For us, as members of the Catholic Church, there is no discrepancy between that world and this world, between the material and the spiritual. For us this is unity in Christ. God has become man. Christ is the God-man. Therefore, the human and the divine are united in Christ.
Archbishop Oscar Romero is a perfect example here, a model. As a Congregation, we studied all of his books, writings and statements during the beatification process. I have myself read them in Spanish to examine their orthodoxy. On this basis, we issued a nihil obstat, a permit confirming that nothing prevents Romero’s being raised to the glory of the altars.
We should bear in mind that this line of thinking is strongly influenced by the Second Vatican Council, by the teaching concerning the relations between the Church and the contemporary world. This is the reason for our commitment. Not only the commitment to make this world a better place in material terms, but the commitment to uphold human dignity as the foundation stone. This is, moreover, God’s commitment to us. We must remember Jesus Christ’s suffering and Passion on the Cross, for us and this world. His Resurrection offers us hope in creating a better world, where children receive a good education, where there are opportunities for development and the pursuit of one’s charisms and talents… We must remember the ultimate horizon: our God, the Creator of this world.