Thursday, 1 March 2007

Benedict imposes ashes on Gustavo Gutierrez

Pope Benedict, who as Cardinal Ratzinger guided a critical review of the work of Peruvian Dominican Gustavo Gutierrez, imposed ashes on the famous liberation theologian during an Ash Wednesday liturgy, it has been revealed.

Catholic News Service reports that Fr Gutierrez was in Rome to teach a brief course at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas, also known as the Angelicum.

On 21 February, Fr Gutierrez gathered with several hundred faithful in the Basilica of Santa Sabina, where the Pope was opening the Lenten season. Midway through the liturgy, Fr Gutierrez was among a small group who went individually in front of the pontiff for the imposition of ashes on their heads.

Fr Gutierrez's 1971 book, A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, Salvation, presented his concept of the connection between social and political liberation and liberation from sin.

As prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the currJustify Fullent pope - then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger - helped guide a lengthy critical review of Fr Gutierrez's work. During the 1990s, Fr Gutierrez was asked to write and rewrite articles clarifying some of his theological and pastoral points.

In 2004, the doctrinal congregation expressed approval of Fr Gutierrez's latest article on ecclesial communion, and it was published in the Angelicum university's scholarly review.

Fr Gutierrez said that his problems with the church's teaching authority, or magisterium, were "completely over" and had been settled some time ago. He said that was clearly demonstrated by the fact that he was teaching in a Rome pontifical university, which he said "is very important and significant for me."

Fr Gutierrez said he still freely expresses his views on liberation theology, because it remains "my way of reflecting on the faith."