Summer 1995

Theological Dimensions of Human Liberation

Stratford Caldecott

"An 'authentic theology of integral human liberation' starts not from abstract notions of 'the people' and their 'oppressors,' but from a personal encounter with Christ in prayer and the sacraments."


Pope John Paul II walked a difficult tightrope in his encyclical Centesimus Annus (1991). On the one hand, he was concerned to emphasize that the Christian faith is not an ideology (CA, n. 46). He wished to stress that the Church does not have economic "models" to present (CA, n. 43). Politics, too, has a kind of autonomy, and no political society should be confused with the kingdom of God (CA, n. 25). On the other hand, Christians within their diverse historical and cultural situations are faced with social and economic problems that must be confronted responsibly (CA, n. 25). Catholic social teaching must therefore be given a "concrete form and application in history" (CA, n. 59)—that is, by Catholic economists, social scientists, and politicians.


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