Weekend Roundup: Pope Francis Resurrects Liberation Theology — Without Marx


Nathan Gardels is the editor-in-chief of Noema Magazine.

If communism is “The God That Failed,” liberation theology is the gospel that has succeeded. Marx may be dead, but the cause of the poor and oppressed has been resurrected.

This is the message the Argentine pope, Francis, sent by beatifying Oscar Romero, reversing decades of conservative opposition in the church hierarchy and setting the El Salvadoran archbishop on the road to sainthood. Romero was gunned down at the altar in 1980 by a right-wing death squad that regarded him as a dangerous Marxist because of his activism on behalf of the poor.

As Paul Vallely writes, Romero is an exemplar for Francis. Both are “orthodox and yet utterly radical.” Romero is “a priest whose life stands in testament to the kind of Catholicism preferred by a pope who declared within days of his election that he wanted ‘a poor Church for the poor.’”

In our Fusion series this week, illustrated with striking street murals, a gang leader says El Salvador still has lots to learn from the example of the martyred archbishop.

Refugees fleeing across the Mediterranean to Europe or from the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, especially Christians, have also been a focus of the pope’s concerns. This week, Asia became the focal point of the asylum crisis, where thousands of Muslim Rohingya who have fled persecution in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar are desperately seeking refuge. Writing from Sydney, Elliott Brennan sees a parallel with the “boat people” crisis after the end of the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1970s, and calls on the ASEAN nations to embrace an emergency response similar to the EU’s for the Mediterranean. Mehdi Hasan says that the silence of Aung San Suu Kyi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for championing human right in Myanmar, is inexcusable, a sentiment echoed by one of the great spiritual leaders of the East, the Dalai Lama. World editor Charlotte Alfred also reports that the Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina unleashed a heartless tirade against the migrants, calling them “mentally sick.”

In Africa, the French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy worries that the escalating conflict in Burundi could be another Rwanda-type genocide in the making. World editor Nick Robins-Early talks to Middle East expert Emile Hokayem about the resentment among many Shia in Iraq who feel their militias are being used as “cannon fodder” in the fight against ISIS.

Europe is also entering an unsettling summer. Writing from Athens, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis continues to insist that “austerity is a deal-breaker” in any agreement with its creditors. As HuffPost Spain editor Montserrat Dominguez writes from Madrid, austerity policies there have also fractured the body politic, casting the two main parties from their dominant position in key municipal elections. Meanwhile, Alan Posener writes from Berlin that Germany’s political class is “willing to ride the tiger of German anger toward the Americans” for partisan advantage as new revelations implicate its own intelligence services in spying. In our “Forgotten Fact” this week, we examine how public opinion pressure to recognize same sex marriages is growing in Italy now that predominantly Catholic Ireland has done so. Columbia law professor Georges Ugeux asks whether the recent U.K. election will prompt Europe to re-examine some key elements of its union — including immigrant quotas and the power of national parliaments.

Ahead of Turkey’s own election, WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones reports from Istanbul on why the upcoming vote could determine Erdogan’s political destiny.

Writing from New Delhi, Shashi Tharoor scores Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first year in office, saying he has yet to distance himself from the “bigotry” of his Hindu fundamentalist party toward non-Hindu minorities. In another assessment, Aditya Karkera calls Modi “a flawed messiah” but “a great capitalist.” Writing from Mumbai, Pavan Lall describes how the Foundation for Ecological Security is restoring denuded hillsides to grow sustainable crops in impoverished areas.

One of China’s leading foreign policy voices, Fu Ying, asks whether her country’s choice is either “to submit to the U.S. or challenge it” and calls on American and Chinese youth of the “post-90s” generation to be “more open and more ready to understand each other.” WorldPost China Correspondent Matt Sheehan reports that, in a new poll, 78 percent of American students who studied in China “left with a more positive impression than when they arrived.”

In an essay this week, I sum up the new state of mind in California, where Gov. Jerry Brown’s frugal “era of limits” philosophy is restraining the budget, water usage and climate-altering carbon gases, convergent technologies are being cultivated and Latinos and Asians are coming to dominate the state’s population.

Our Singularity University series this week looks at how the urge to play is behind the drive to innovate in Silicon Valley. Finally, our photo essays this week portray celebrations in Ireland over the same sex marriage victory, the searing heat wave in India and the majestic scenery in Bolivia.


EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Senior Advisor to the Berggruen Institute on Governance and the long-time editor of NPQ and the Global Viewpoint Network of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate/Tribune Media, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Senior Editor of the WorldPost. Alex Gardels and Peter Mellgard are the Associate Editors of The WorldPost. Katie Nelson is the National Editor at the Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s editorial coverage. Eline Gordts is HuffPost’s Senior World Editor. Charlotte Alfred and Nick Robins-Early are Associate World Editors.

CORRESPONDENTS: Sophia Jones in Istanbul; Matt Sheehan in Beijing.

EDITORIAL BOARD: Nicolas Berggruen, Nathan Gardels, Arianna Huffington, Eric Schmidt (Google Inc.), Pierre Omidyar (First Look Media) Juan Luis Cebrian (El Pais/PRISA), Walter Isaacson (Aspen Institute/TIME-CNN), John Elkann (Corriere della Sera, La Stampa), Wadah Khanfar (Al Jazeera), Dileep Padgaonkar (Times of India) and Yoichi Funabashi (Asahi Shimbun).

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Moises Naim (former editor of Foreign Policy), Nayan Chanda (Yale/Global; Far Eastern Economic Review) and Katherine Keating (One-On-One). Sergio Munoz Bata and Parag Khanna are Contributing Editors-At-Large.

The Asia Society and its ChinaFile, edited by Orville Schell, is our primary partner on Asia coverage. Eric X. Li and the Chunqiu Institute/Fudan University in Shanghai and Guancha.cn also provide first person voices from China. We also draw on the content of China Digital Times. Seung-yoon Lee is The WorldPost link in South Korea.

Jared Cohen of Google Ideas provides regular commentary from young thinkers, leaders and activists around the globe. Bruce Mau provides regular columns from MassiveChangeNetwork.com on the “whole mind” way of thinking. Patrick Soon-Shiong is Contributing Editor for Health and Medicine.

ADVISORY COUNCIL: Members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council and Council for the Future of Europe serve as the Advisory Council — as well as regular contributors — to the site. These include, Jacques Attali, Shaukat Aziz, Gordon Brown, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Juan Luis Cebrian, Jack Dorsey, Mohamed El-Erian, Francis Fukuyama, Felipe Gonzalez, John Gray, Reid Hoffman, Fred Hu, Mo Ibrahim, Alexei Kudrin, Pascal Lamy, Kishore Mahbubani, Alain Minc, Dambisa Moyo, Laura Tyson, Elon Musk, Pierre Omidyar, Raghuram Rajan, Nouriel Roubini, Nicolas Sarkozy, Eric Schmidt, Gerhard Schroeder, Peter Schwartz, Amartya Sen, Jeff Skoll, Michael Spence, Joe Stiglitz, Larry Summers, Wu Jianmin, George Yeo, Fareed Zakaria, Ernesto Zedillo, Ahmed Zewail, and Zheng Bijian.

From the Europe group, these include: Marek Belka, Tony Blair, Jacques Delors, Niall Ferguson, Anthony Giddens, Otmar Issing, Mario Monti, Robert Mundell, Peter Sutherland and Guy Verhofstadt.


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