Questioning the Development Paradigm: Latin American Liberation Theology
Georges De Schrijver
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In Populorum Progressio (1967) Pope Paul VI endorses a notion of development that includes the empowerment of the local people, in contrast to the development programs of the United Nations with their focus on imposed modernization. The article examines the reception of this encyclical in Latin America. The Medellin Conference (1968) and Gustavo Gutiérrez hallow the Pope’s message because they feel encouraged by it in their commitment to a liberating praxis aimed at making the people authors of their own destiny. Others, like Juan Carlos Scannone and Enrique Dussel assimilate the Pope’s message by placing a heavy accent on the revival of the typically Latin American culture with its popular religiosity. For them, this typical culture is at stake because the western logical thought and planning are making in roads everywhere. Ignacio Ellacuría, finally criticizes the unequal access to opportunities because the political elites foster their capacities only for themselves. He is convinced that the western life style and pattern of consumerism cannot possibly serve as model for the whole world, because the planet is not equipped for such an exorbitant amount of consumption and pollution.

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