A friend, after watching several media presentations on John Paul II, remarked that John Paul II stood against communism in
In the mind of the media, it was a contradiction, evidence of perhaps self-serving interests. In their wrapping, it was a case of John Paul II defending his ‘own’ people against oppression but refusing to defend others against oppression.
My answer is that this is no contradiction at all. This ‘contradiction’ of the media radically fails to understand John Paul II, and it radically fails to understand Liberation Theology.
John Paul II was, above all, a theological pope. And this in the classical sense of properly grounding action in metaphysics, understanding truth in revelation.
He saw to the heart of communism, and stood against it first in metaphysics. John Paul II understood as clearly as Dostoevsky, when Dostoevsky said in one sentence: “Socialism is atheism.” Socialism, and its communistic face, is not morally neutral. It is not just a socio-economic, political movement. In metaphysics, it is a coiled snake that strikes at the heart of transcendent faith. Thus John Paul II realized that communism must be adamantly opposed, even though it cost his life – and it almost did.
Turn now to the Latin Americas and the march of Liberation Theology. In theological naïveté, those looking on could say, “This is a socio-economic, political movement that seeks to defend the poor!” But is that it, really?
John Paul II incisively realized that Liberation Theology was no friend to the poor, though it cloak itself in rhetoric of poverty. He saw behind it the exact metaphysic of socialism, which would use the poor as a door of anti-Christ power.
Liberation Theology was a movement that offered the poor a carrot at the cost of their soul -- a twin to the coiled serpent of socialism.
I’ll never forget the chill that ran through my soul when I read Gustavo Gutierrez, the flagship Catholic theologian of Liberation Theology. Here was the most insidious challenge to apostolic faith that I had ever read. It redefined faith terms as powerfully as Satan had in the wilderness, toward the destruction of the person of Jesus as Christ. My spirit was shocked. I sensed I was reading a practical atheist.
My inner response was that which Dostoevsky judged the Grand Inquisitor: “Sir, your great secret is that you no longer believe. You are an atheist.”
Imagine then my concern when I realized that academia was in love with Liberation Theology, and even ‘Christian intelligentsia’ could not see the spirit behind it, so theologically naïve as to not understand its metaphysic.
But John Paul II was no theological or spiritual novice. With spiritual wisdom and theological intent, he acted decisively against Liberation Theology. The poor of
It is only a sign of the great intellectual and spiritual bankruptcy of world media that they do not understand the stand against both communism and Liberation Theology.
These are two mirror coils on an anti-faith snake that would wrap itself around our world, and kill faith in Christ Jesus if it could.
There are other coils of this cosmic serpent that the next pope must face: cosmetic American Christianity sold out to a gospel of materialism, Islamic and satanic jihad, and the postmodern spirituality of self-idolatry. This response was a concern of John Paul II. He knew that Satan exists and is desperately active in our world, and worse still, desperately active in the Catholic hierarchy. He expressed concern that the next pope would be the ‘Black Pope,’ or anti-pope, sold out to the fallen principalities and powers…in practice if not intent. John Paul II knew, perhaps more than any of us, just how easy places of power – specifically church power – can become dark places of predatory abuse and control. So he prayed that the next pope would not be the anti-pope.
This concern of John Paul II should be a matter of prayer for us all.
“Pray that your flight be not in winter,” said our Lord.
“The Son of Man must be betrayed, but woe to Him by whose hand He is betrayed! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
Let us pray that the next pope, like John Paul II, serves Christ and not anti-Christ.