Eras Journal - Llewellyn-Jones, E. Abstract
Abstract of Llewellyn-Jones, E., "Bishop Larrain and his relationship to Liberation Theology".
Liberation Theology is connected in many people's minds with Gustavo Gutiérrez. It is seen as having emerged from the Latin American Episcopal Conference held in Medellín, Colombia in 1968. It is also associated with Marxist theories and in some cases with armed violence against the state. That is only a small part of the story. Medellín was the brainchild of Bishop Manuel Larraín. There is no written evidence of a connection between Gustavo Gutiérrez and Bishop Larraín, even though the Bishop taught at the Seminary in Santiago, Chile, when Gutiérrez was a pupil.
Bishop Larraín had developed a theology rooted in Latin America ever since his ordination in 1927. He depended heavily on the Church's Social Doctrine particularly Rerum Novarum and Quadragessimo Anno. It centred on the life and needs of the poorest. It had to make sense to them. The Christian message had to be expressed through actions and not words. He advocated land reform, was critical of the capitalist system, and rejected Marxism. Gospel values properly applied would resolve the needs of society. Although a traditionalist, he won the respect of people on all sides and influenced many changes that set the scene for Medellín and Liberation Theology.