Christians, the Church, and Revolution – Gonzalo Arroyo, SJ (1975)

Gonzalo Arroyo, SJ

[Gonzalo Arroyo was a Chilean socialist, Jesuit, and a founding member of the Christians for Socialism group.]

In my opinion, the military coup of September 11, 1973, enables us to decide how truly open the institutional Church is to the forces for revolution in Latin America. It also enables us to decide how valid has been the practice of the Chilean left vis-a-vis Christians.

The behavior of the Chilean hierarchy as a whole—and specifically that of the Cardinal of Santiago, which has drawn much attention—does in fact legitimate the military junta even though its aims are humanitarian. Though it seeks to obtain certain guarantees on behalf of the persecuted and to protect Christian institutions, it has led some people to say that in Chile the bourgeoisie has “recovered” the Church.[1]

Does that mean that the socialist Christians of Chile, who had been committed to the struggles of the people, were fleeting birds of summer who could not survive the sudden winter of repression? Christians and Marxists had tasted the effects of joint collaboration in the struggle, and there was reason to hope for benefits to both sides: i.e., new forms of Christian living on the one hand and new forms of socialist organization and culture on the other. Was that a vain hope, shattered in the light of day? Must we now wake to a capitalism that is adopting repressive measures while the Church tolerates them and accommodates herself to them?

In other words, has the coup in Chile proved that the expectations placed in Latin American Christianity were an exception which proves the leftist rule in the past? Impressed by the revolutionary behavior of Chilean Christians and by the loyal collaboration of the bishops with the Allende government, the left had begun to abandon its traditional stance towards Christianity.[2] Must we now say that the traditional image of the Church as a conservative force, as a barrier to social change and a guarantee against the expansion of communism, has won out over the newer and more novel image? Has the latter image failed to hold up, despite the impressive and active presence of avowed Christian Marxists within the revolutionary process?[3]

Proof for Marx’s Position?

f the answer to the above questions is “yes,” then it is clear that Marx’s position has won out over that of Engels. Marx espoused absolute atheism and viewed Christianity as an embodiment of capital and a higher form of alienation. Engels had done a more serious and meticulous analysis of the history of religions, of Christianity in particular, and he saw in it positive aspects from the political viewpoint.

If the answer to the above questions is “yes,” then Marx’s position has also won out over the view of other Marxists who feel that Christianity contains certain values that can be assimilated by Marxist humanism.[4] Although this topic is not our main concern here, it is worth pointing out that a “yes” answer would also reinforce the dominant if not official position of communist parties and most Marxists: i.e., that the active, militant communist cannot be religious as an individual in his private life. To act thus, in the eyes of Marx, would be to succumb to an intolerable dualism. One would be privately adhering to a practice that directly contradicted his public behavior.

To put it another way, I would say that a “yes” answer to the above questions would perpetuate in Latin America the basic schema that is predominant in the socialist world. One tolerates Christians, but that does not rule out combatting a religion that is to disappear with the advent of communism. One can “dialogue” and collaborate with Christians, but they are not to be brought into the political project and invested with equal rights and duties. If the progressivist phase of the Church and the involvement of socialist Christians has come to an end with the military coup in Chile—because henceforth the Church is inextricably bound to an economic system that now has assumed fascist and repressive forms in the political arena—then the traditional socialist schema would seem to be forced on the Latin American left once and for all.

Here I feel it is worthwhile to advance several hypotheses of a sociological nature regarding the behavior of Christians after the military coup in Chile. First of all, it seems to me that events in Chile lend support to the following proposition: Institutionalized churches and religions are integral parts of the overall socio-economic system; insofar as the latter system alters its political structures, the former tend to adapt themselves to the new circumstances. In the particular case in question, the economic system has moved from a liberal, democratic political structure to a fascist, totalitarian one; and the institutional churches have given up their reformist and progressivist modes of conduct, reverting to doctrinal positions that are more traditionally conservative and to regressive patterns of conduct within their own communities.

However, I think that I should put forward two subsidiary hypotheses at the same time. This accomodation to the new political situation is all the more difficult for the churches insofar as they have been clearly and deeply committed to progressive views prior to this accommodation—through the views of their official representatives and through the appearance of active revolutionary positions and commitments within their confines. After such a new and unexpected experience, a sudden turn about becomes very difficult. If it takes place quickly and obviously, then it will cost them. They will lose their credibility in the eyes of the popular masses, particularly in the eyes of those who were most actively involved in politics.

The second subsidiary hypothesis is this: Events in Chile will not automatically lead to the disappearance of revolutionary Christianity as a current of social thought and a form of political involvement. In the short run, revolutionary Christianity may have been harmed by repression both inside and outside the religious institution. But it can also penetrate even more deeply into the masses of Christian people. Its authenticity can be verified by its continuing commitment to liberation in accordance with its interpretation of the gospel, and also by the repression it suffers along with the popular masses. What I propose to do now is to explore these hypotheses in a little greater detail.

Three Currents of Social Christianity

On the Latin American continent we can discern three major currents of social Christianity that are to be associated with political happenings here,[5] and with changes in the Catholic Church and Protestantism due to political developments in Western Europe and elsewhere. This is not the place for a general historical study of the topic, which is a very difficult and ticklish one.[5] Here I shall merely present a few elements that lend support to the hypotheses presented above.

The first current prevailed in Latin America, almost without countervailing forces, until the publication of the papal encyclical Quadragesimo anno in 1931. It was the social viewpoint of traditional Christians who were politically conservative and religiously faithful to the practice of the sacraments. They carried on the age-old collusion between the colonial government and local hierarchies. From the institutional point of view, one must say that it would have been hard for them to escape this sort of collusion. Later on, it became collusion between confessional parties and the Church.[7]

This current has been steadily losing strength in recent decades. This has been particularly true in Chile, where the Christian Democratic Party made its appearance towards the end of the thirties. Sprung from the papal encyclicals and from the social Catholicism of Europe, it reached its acme right after World War II ended.[8] As the revolution advances, traditional Christians grow more radical by adopting ideological positions of an integralist cast.

The second Christian current is reformist in nature. It is closely bound up with the strong growth of the Christian Democratic Party in certain countries (Chile, Venezuela, some countries of Central America, and so forth), and with its impact on the rest of the continent. It also is in line with the reformism that exists in the Catholic Church as a whole, which found its chief expression in the pastoral constitution Gaudium et spes that was promulgated by Vatican II. In the Latin American Church that reformism is mirrored in the Medellin Conference,[9] which did present certain original elements of its own, however, by comparison with European praxis at the time.

This particular current of thought was the dominant one among Christians in Chile at the time of the recent military coup. One may group most members of the episcopate here. These Christians talk about social reforms and about “revolution in liberty,” to use a slogan from the days of Frei. Subsequently some of them have grown more radical, proposing a “communitarian and democratic socialism” as did Tomic, a candidate who was defeated by Allende in 1970. Basically this kind of program claims to be looking for some middle road between capitalism and Marxist socialism. As the revolutionary experiment in Chile proceeded, this current provided the ideological foundation for growing opposition to the Popular Unity coalition from within the ranks of the Christian Democrats. It ended up in an amalgam with the rightist forces that staged the coup.

Christians in this group are particularly susceptible to bourgeois ideology of a reformist cast. They have internalized a whole set of abstract, a-historical ethical values: e.g., democracy, participation, liberty, non-violence, and so forth. These values structure their thinking in such a way that they are incapable of participating in an historical process which, for all its ambiguities and contradictions, is trying to establish in Chile the socialism they claim to profess.[10]

The third current is embodied in revolutionary Christians. It appeared on the Latin American continent in the early sixties, and its appearance is probably related to the success of the Cuban revolution. To cite some examples of this current, I would mention the Popular Action movement in Brazil. It was a political movement that arose around 1960 among Catholic university students who did not accept the political directives of the hierarchy. Then there was the United Front movement which arose somewhat later, and which Camilo Torres tried to get going in Colombia. It sought to unite Catholics, Marxists, and all those who wanted to fight on behalf of the exploited class and against the reigning oligarchies and imperialism.

The Medellin Conference

The revolutionary current picked up impetus in the wake of the episcopal conference in Medellin, but not as much impetus as the reformist current did. At the Medellin Conference, Latin American bishops openly declared the commitment of the Church to the task of liberating the peoples of Latin America from neo-colonialism and “institutionalized violence.” The latter was evident, they said, in the economic, social, and political structures of our continent which are, in the words of Paul VI, in bondage to the “international imperialism of money.”[11]

Even before the Medellin Conference, at the time of Vatican II, a group of bishops from the Third World had taken a stance in favor of socialism. They had been led by Helder Camara, the Archbishop of Recife (Brazil). Before Medellin there had also appeared the “Third World” movement in Argentina and the ONIS movement in Peru. These were groups of priests who had also opted for socialism. But it is correct to say that this third current has taken on greater force because of the political situation, particularly in Chile, and because of the growth of the “theology of liberation.” The latter is the first theology to give expression to a distinctively Latin American line of thought rather than merely mirroring European theology.[12]

In Chile the “Young Church” movement began in 1968, and “The 80” priests stepped into the picture in 1971. They publicly espoused socialism, and this led to the creation of “Christians For Socialism” in 1972. Initially the latter organization was composed of priests and ministers who lived and worked among the common people. Gradually it took in the more aware sectors of the Christian working classes, radicalized sectors of students, and the petty bourgeoisie. Disappointed by the failure of Frei’s experiments at revolution and in concrete contact with the struggles and sufferings of the exploited, these Christians had come to realize the necessity of rejecting “third alternative” solutions based on the social doctrine of the Church.[13] These solutions were seen to be deceptive and disappointing, designed not to liberate the masses but to put through improvements which would ensure the continuance of centuries-old exploitation of the many by the few. Socialist Christians judged that the real choice was between capitalism and socialism, that there was no third alternative, and that Christians and Marxists should unite around the project to implement socialism.[14]

It is important to point out that these socialist Christians did not try to derive their political stance from their faith, even though they felt that it dovetailed with the gospel message and with Jesus’ predilection for the poor and their liberation. They derived their political stance from an analysis which they wanted to be as objective and scientific as possible, and which they saw authenticated by the political praxis of the workers and their avant-garde. But they asserted that their Christian faith was enlivened and vivified by their political activity—that is, by their active involvement in history with the working class and its liberation.

Christians For Socialism

The First Latin American Convention of Christians For Socialism took place in Santiago, Chile (April 1972). The hierarchy had reservations about it and did not participate in it, but more than four hundred delegates did attend (one bishop, some two hundred priests and Protestant ministers, theologians, and lay people). It had considerable impact throughout the Americas and also in Europe.[15] Leftist Christians in Chile were wholly involved in the revolutionary process that had been initiated by the election victory of Allende. For them socialism was no longer a mere word.

This Christian current was a force within the Popular Unity coalition, and within the left as a whole, due to such parties as MAPU and the Christian Left.[16] This gave a singularly pluralistic character to the Chilean way towards socialism, and it allowed us to hope for significant results from the revolutionary collaboration of Christians and Marxists. But the importance of this Christian current was not limited to that fact. By rejecting the reformist position of the Christian Democratic Party, which claimed to flow de jure or de facto from the gospel message itself, the current of revolutionary Christianity deprived this “third alternative” of its ideological legitimation and its camouflaging of class oppositions. By the simple fact of their existence, socialist Christians helped to strip capitalism, in its outmoded reformist dress, of its ideological justification. It helped to mobilize the working class and the members of the lower middle class. It undermined the prevailing notion that the class struggle was incompatible with the gospel message because it was fed by hatred and led to violence (though admittedly the violence came from people who were oppressed!).

Though this current of revolutionary thought among Christians was a minority one, it had great weight because it was espoused by priests and religious working among the poor and also by eminent theologians and intellectuals. This fact had some bearing on the attitude of neutrality which the hierarchy adopted towards the 1970 elections in Chile, and then on its attitude of collaboration and good relations with the predominantly Marxist government of the Popular Unity coalition. Nevertheless the fact is that the relationship between revolutionary Christians and the bishops never came easy. But no complete rupture took place. The bishops accepted, at least to some extent, the legitimacy of opting for socialism and even Marxism. Revolutionary Christians did not want to break with the hierarchy, both for theological and political reasons.[17]

Christian Reactions to the Military Coup

I would be the first to admit that this typology of Latin American Christianity, particularly in Chile at the time of the coup, is probably too sketchy in nature. It does not take account of other features of Latin American Christianity. For example, it does not consider popular religiosity, a religious phenomenon that existed with some impetus of its own and with some autonomy vis-a-vis the hierarchy. Nor does it consider various forms of the charismatic movement which existed in the country due to the strong impact of the pentecostal movement. My three categories refer primarily to the social and political dimensions of the faith. In my opinion they enable one to better understand the reaction of Christians to the military coup of September 11, 1973, and the subsequent fascist repression.

In line with my first hypothesis above, the Chilean Church would presumably react to the coup in a way that would justify the general norm espoused by the Latin American left. In short, it would bolster the leftist view of Christianity which it had been undermining by its conduct during the Allende regime. Institutional religion in Chile would not prove to be an exception to the rule after all. Its collaboration with a socialist regime during the three years of rule by the Popular Unity coalition would prove to be basically a tactical maneuver. Once the overall system in which it was integrated no longer allowed for legally effected structural changes in the economic and political realm, it would cease to manifest support for the socialist program. Once capitalism shed its reformist mask, it no longer tolerated the overall transformation of society by legal, democratic means. At that point institutional religion, being a support for the system, would tend to regress to conservative positions in ideology and doctrine, thus clearly espousing anti-communist positions.

Events in Chile seem to give clear support to the view that the Chilean Church reached its moment of truth at the time of the coup. Here there is no need to repeat what has been said in many other places about the actions of Cardinal Silva Henriquez and other Chilean bishops.[18] The position of the Cardinal could be identified with that of the ‘Third alternative” espoused by the reformist wing, and he loyally maintained this position during the three years of government by the Popular Unity coalition. One cannot say as much for the majority of Christian Democrats. Immediately before the coup he even tried to find a solution to the political impasse by seeking to restore dialogue between the left and the opposition forces. But such dialogue proved to be quite impossible.

Because of its professed a-politicism, the Church abstained from politics to a certain extent—particularly after the decline of Frei’s administration, the appearance of splits in the Christian Democratic Party, and the formation of MAPU. This won for it the enduring hatred of the right, which still prevails, and came down to indirect support for the ruling government. When workers saw the Cardinal taking part in various demonstrations sponsored by the Workers’ Central, which was dominated by Marxist parties, they began to believe that the hierarchy was with the poor. But after the coup, the Cardinal’s declarations and actions no longer were consistent with his previous ones. Increasingly they tended to move in an unfortunate direction and to provide justification for the junta.

I do not want to go into great detail here, but it would be well to recall his statements on November 5, 1973, to L’Osservatore Romano. In the name of the Church he offers the new government “the same collaboration it had offered to all those works on behalf of the common good that had been sponsored by the Marxist government of President Allende.” In other words, the two governments are equally legitimate! There is no word of condemnation for the thousands killed, for the 20,000 political prisoners, for the 15,000 refugees, for the flagrant violation of the most basic human rights—all of these actions performed by a junta whose members profess themselves to be Christians![19]

The silence of the Cardinal, and of most of the churches in general, seems quite unjustifiable in the light of the facts. The events in Chile have been labelled as closely akin to “genocide” by some people. How, then, do we explain the silence?

Three explanations might be offered. The first is that such silence was necessary to help those who were being pursued and arrested by the junta. In order to be of real help to the prisoners and to win better treatment for them, it was necessary to negotiate with the junta. If that be the case, the practical results of this tack are far from evident.[20] There is no question of denigrating the rescue work which many priests and Christians undertook at great personal risk. But the fact is that in the name of individual charity, or in the name of “social” charity if you prefer, people allowed far more serious things to go on unquestioned; and the latter things affected society as a whole. No one expressed opposition to the fascist behavior of a junta whose members professed to be Christians. Indeed, in no time Christians were collaborating with the junta and thus giving it legitimacy.

The second explanation has to do with the underlying ideology of “a-politicism” proclaimed by the Church. The Cardinal and the bishops have repeatedly told priests who were actively involved in politics that they should abstain from such activities. Unlike the laity, they were not to get involved in partisan politics since the mission of the Church is a religious one. Leftist priests replied that even though all were not called to active militancy, abstention was as impossible for them as it was for lay people and bishops. Indeed, they said, the abstention of the bishops was a particularly serious matter. Their a-politicism left the field open to regimes which did not allow the popular masses to participate effectively in government power. It left the field open to regimes in which the people surrendered their destiny to others: e.g., the ruling classes, the armed forces, state organisms.[21]

The third explanation goes right to the heart of the problem. Accepting and recognizing the junta enabled Church authorities to save the institutional Church and its works. When the junta intervened in the affairs of the Catholic universities, the ecclesiastical authorities kept silent. After the coup they juridically ratified the appointment of the Admiral who had been forced upon the Catholic University of Santiago as its Rector. Yet that is a pontifical university, of which the Cardinal is the chief Chancellor. In other words, the religious institution lives by the sociological norm that ensures its own survival; and it does this even when it must openly contradict the principles which brought it into being and which represent its true goal and purpose. Insofar as they are institutions, the churches —represented by their hierarchies —cannot escape the conditions imposed by the ruling class in Chilean society. These conditions become stricter when one enters a political phase marked by fascist militarism, and they can only be broken by charismatic figures such as Helder Camara.

The behavior of other reformist Christian groups also tends to confirm our first hypothesis. The majority of Christian Democrats have welcomed the coup with unfeigned joy. Their betrayal of the democratic principles which they professed to believe, and their complicity with fascism, will cause them to pass into the pages of history as branded hypocrites. Although there are exceptions, some of their top leaders make no sense at all when they talk about a “parallel army of 30,000 men” (Frei in the Madrid journal ABC), or when they say that the Allende regime was a totalitarian system “comparable to that headed by Hitler or Ulbricht” (Aylwin addressing the CDU in Hamburg).

These absurd statements are the product of a bad conscience which leads those people to self-justifying rationalizations. They grab on to straws in the wind, alluding to a supposed coup planned by the Allende government itself (“Plan Z”). The junta propagated this story to justify the brutality of its own coup.[22]

Here one must underline the responsibility of the Church for this behavior. The “social doctrine” of the Church implanted in the Christian conscience a variety of abstract, a-historical values which I touched upon earlier and which are fertile soil for bourgeois ideology. Thus the Church’s social doctrine allowed the Christian Democratic Party to camouflage its true class nature. President Allende was betrayed by his trust in democracy. His trust enabled the opposition to mobilize against him under the pretext that his government could represent a threat to liberty. In the name of democratic values, people gave the green light to the military coup. And these people included judges and lawyers, defenders of a lawful government such as the Christian Democratic Party, and “democrats” such as Mr. Frei.

Liberal democracy is a fiction, an ideological ruse which safeguards the interests of the ruling classes and functions exclusively within the confines of the capitalist system. If the reproductive capabilities of the latter are threatened, then liberal democracy is choked off at its roots by the bourgeoisie— shamelessly and, in the case of Chile, without any pretense. By preaching a set of a-historical values, the social doctrine of the Church certainly bears a large share of responsibility for the establishment of fascism in Chile.

Socialist Christians and the Future

The military coup also presents socialist Christians with their moment of truth. There is no doubt that in Chile, and to some extent throughout the continent of Latin America, they are suffering direct repression. We know that the ecclesiastical authorities in Chile were contemplating a declaration that would have forbade priests and religious to participate actively in the Secretariat of Christians For Socialism. The declaration was widely known in ecclesiastical circles even before the coup.

Other steps have been taken against the “Theology of liberation.” It is not simply a matter of holding critical attitudes towards this theology. These steps represent nothing less than an organized campaign against this theology.[23] Does all this portend the imminent death of the revolutionary current of thought among Christians? Are we to conclude that henceforth revolutionary opposition will be ruled out among Christians who remain associated with the religious institution?

In my opinion, such a view is not justified. The subsidiary hypotheses presented above suggest that the socialist current of thought can increase its influence among the Christian masses, at least over the long haul, despite its present persecution. To some extent, this will depend on the attitude adopted by the hierarchical authorities towards the fascist repression that is growing throughout Latin America.

It seems likely that persecution will support the authenticity of socialist Christians in the eyes of the people, that the coherence between their practice and the principles of the gospel message will identify them even more closely with the liberation of the poor and the oppressed. The feelings of solidarity towards them and the concerned interest they have aroused in the countries of Europe and North America suggest that they will be looked on favorably by increasingly large circles of Christians in Latin America itself. This may be particularly true among the masses in less secularized countries, where the Church has been identified with the hierarchy up to now.

The attitude of the various hierarchies will be important. In Chile, for example, there seems to be only two feasible alternatives: Either one is for or one is against the coup. Excessive accommodation to shifting circumstances will cause a loss of adhesion and obedience to the hierarchy among large segments of the Christian population. This will be particularly true among the working class, among other segments that are greatly persecuted by the junta, and in general among the more politicized Christians.

This is all the more true because there has been no other instance in history when the Catholic Church, through some of its bishops (e.g., the Cardinal of Santiago), has gone so far in giving support and displaying political collaboration, of an indirect sort at least, with a government that was predominantly Marxist and that sought to establish socialism. To put it another way: The opportunistic behavior of one church sector (i.e., the hierarchy and Christian institutions) contrasts sharply with the behavior of revolutionary priests and Christians. The latter made no accommodations and suffered persecution alongside the working class. This contrast will undermine the social and political credibility of the Church,which is represented by its episcopal authorities in the eyes of the people.

Their prior support for Allende may have been a tactical maneuver. But they cannot make an abrupt about-face and adopt a completely contrary position without losing credibility. Institutional religion cannot help but appear to be inconsistent. The policies of the new authorities are violent and repressive. Offering support for these policies can only diminish the influence of the hierarchy on the Christian masses, and hence denigrate the reformist socialist positions it espoused before the coup.

The institutional Church certainly did try to save political leftists and others who were being persecuted by the military junta. This work was carried on more effectively in Santiago than in the outlying provinces. There is no doubt that this rescue work may distract people’s attention from something that is even more important: the way the churches have accommodated themselves to the new government.

This rescue work was carried on by certain bishops, priests, and Protestant ministers. It was grounded on the institutional power of the churches and on the mediating role accorded to them by the junta—all of that worked out in negotiations with the junta that were public knowledge. Initially people’s advertence to this humanitarian and charitable action may obscure the accommodation of the ecclesial institution to the junta and the opportunism of the various hierarchies. This is all the more possible since the gospel message does stress helping the persecuted, visiting prisoners, and so forth.

Over the long run, however, matters should take a different turn, particularly when the repressive crimes of the junta become known to the people and when an attempt is made to mete out punishment to the guilty. Ruling out any immediate possibility of the junta being overthrown, one cannot exclude the possibility that the Armed Forces themselves will go through some sort of internal shakeup in order to evade political responsibility for these crimes. In any case, the complicity of the institutional churches in the initial legitimation and subsequent political consolidation of the junta will become clear to vast segments of the population. Even if it were merely the fact of their complicity by silence, they will be judged by the people at large, not just by the left. Their complicity will seem to stand in direct contradiction to the preaching of Christ, who spoke not only of helping the persecuted but also of liberating the oppressed. The latter action necessarily has implications in the area of political structures. Hence the Church institution will lose some of its capability to impose its hierarchical norms on the social domain and to claim that it is a universal representation of Christianity.

Whatever may happen from here on in, the more or less favorable reaction of bishops to the junta and the corresponding repression of leftist Christians should make new segments of Christians more independent of the normative influence of the religious institution on them in the realm of politics. Up to now this influence has been exerted on them principally through the “social doctrine” of the Church and through parties inspired by Christian social principles in one way or another. More and more, ecclesiastical authorities will find themselves forced to grant freedom of action in this domain to Christians. Under the dynamic impulse of their faith in the gospel of liberation, in which they will certainly detect revolutionary strains, Christians will manage to abandon the abstract ideology of reformism. In the political arena they will decide to start with far more objective analyses of social reality, and this decision will be particularly rich in consequences when these Christians come from the proletariat or the common people.

In conclusion, I would say that the coup has not been without consequences for Christians and the churches. It has brought them into a crisis, forcing them to take a stand and to make political choices that are irrevocable in the accelerated flow of current history. Over and above their personal involvement in the revolutionary struggle, the political task of socialist Christians is to be found primarily in the domain of ideology. This task will be made easier for them, since a “third alternative” between fascism and revolution becomes more and more impossible every day for the popular masses and politicized Christians. The reformism of Christian social doctrine, of men like Frei and Tomic, has been laid to rest by the machine guns and bayonets of the military junta. That much is clear at least. Socialist Christians in Latin America now have that much to their advantage in the struggle that lies ahead. The question now is whether they can carry on this struggle within the institutional Church or whether they will be forced to carry it on outside the Church.

Notes

[1] See Jean-Noel Darde and Isabel Santi, “La junte n’est au bout de ses peines,” in Le monde diplomatique (December 1973).
[2] See G. Arroyo, “Le coup d’etat au Chili, interrogations et reflexions,” Etudes (December 1973-January 1974).
[3] The unusual element here, of course, it not the existence of socialist Christians; similar cases can be found in Europe. For example, there was the worker-priest movement in France after World War II. The novel element in this case is the fact that these Christians carry on their political activity within the revolutionary process itself. They do not give mere intellectual assent to a methodology they deem to be the most adequate.
[4] See the study of Georges Morel, “El ateismo del marxismo,” Mensaje (Santiago), May 1971, pp. 130-140.
[5] The Latin American continent possesses vast natural resources, but it is plagued by weak economies, underdevelopment, and dependency on international capitalism. After the success of the Cuban revolution in 1960, it began to go through a period of social and political ferment.
[6] See G. Arroyo, “La Iglesia en la decada de los 70,” in America 70, Santiago: Ed. Universidad Catolica, 1971.
[7] In the nineteenth century two kinds of parties predominated. The confessional party was conservative; the anti-clerical party was liberal. Both had ties with the oligarchies embodied in the large landowners and the business world, and both excluded from their ranks the great mass of peasants, craftsmen, and native Indians.
[8] The Christian Democratic Party arose from the younger members of the Conservative Party. In 1938 it would have been condemned by the bishops of Chile if Bishop Manuel Larrain had not stepped in at the decisive moment. He would later found the Conference of Latin American Bishops (CELAM).
[9] The episcopal conference in Medellin (Colombia) in 1968 went further than Vatican II. There the bishops committed themselves, in the name of the Church, to the task of liberating the peoples of Latin America. This commitment had political implications. See their “Message to the people of Latin America” at that time.
[10] Given such names as “self-managing” or “communitarian” socialism.
[11] The fact is that Medellin gave support to the “theology of liberation,” even though the bishops may not have wanted to do this intentionally. This is particularly evident in its documents on peace, which helped to radicalize the Christian movement.
[12] The main theologians in this area are the Peruvian Gustavo Gutierrez and the Brazilian Hugo Assmann. The major book by Gutierrez has been translated into several languages by now, including English: A Theology of Liberation, Eng. trans. Caridad Inda and John Eagleson, Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1973. See also Hugo Assmann, Teologia desde la praxis de la liberación, Salamanca: Ed. Sigueme, 1973.
[13] In other words, derived principally from the social encyclicals of recent popes, starting with Leo XIII. See Pierre Bigo, La doctrine sociale de I’Eglise, Paris: PUF, 1965.
[14] This position is based on the tenet that the chief contradiction is not between Christians and Marxists but between exploiters and exploited.
[15] The Final Document of that Convention (see above Document 18) was distributed throughout Latin America, and subsidiary groups of Christians For Socialism grew up in various countries. It was also utilized by already existing groups such as ONIS in Peru.
[16] These resulted from divisions within the Christian Democratic Party. MAPU arose in 1968; the Christian Left arose in 1971. The former claimed to be grounded on Marxist-Leninism, but effective cooperation has become a reality between militant Christians and militant Marxists. There are also Christians in MIR, in the Socialist Party, and even in the Communist Party.
[17] Much discussion surrounded the 1971 pastoral document issued by the bishops: “The Church, Politics, and Various Brands of Socialism.” This document was criticized by “The 80” priests. See in this volume the national report on Chile, Document 11.
[18] See Politique-hebdo, n. 103, November 15, 1973, pp. 22-24; also the article in Etudes cited in note 2.
[19] However, friction between the Cardinal and the junta has not ended. The political right has not forgiven the Cardinal’s cooperation with the Allende government. His statements in L’Osservatore Romano drew down the wrath of the military government because he had publicly placed the two governments (Allende’s and theirs) on the same level. The right-wing press later attacked the Cardinal directly. Since censorship is strict in Chile right now, their attack must have been approved by the junta.
[20] Might not a clear stand against the excesses of the junta by the Cardinal have been more effective than aid to the persecuted on an individual basis? Aid measures, such as refugee camps, were given institutional form after a few weeks. In turn, however, the Cardinal had to concede to the junta the mission of “telling the truth about Chile” to the outside world.
[21] In fact, however, some priests were active in grass-roots organizations of various sorts: labor unions, political parties, and so forth.
[22] The “white paper” of the junta has no internal coherence and it is not based on objective facts at all. Yet it has found even more credibility in Chile than in the outside world.
[23] We might mention several things here: the 1972 statement by the social commission of CELAM on the subject of socialism; the steps taken by Father Arrupe against the Mexican Jesuits who have been collaborating with the Secretariat of Christians For Socialism; the decision of several bishops not to renew the contracts of leftist Spanish priests in Chile. In addition, a variety of steps have been taken in reaction to the theology of liberation. New officials have been appointed to CEFAM, theological study centers have been set up (particularly in Bogota) to dispute its scholarly underpinnings, and credit has been granted in Europe to encourage opposition research.

[Translation (?) found in Gonzalo Arroyo “Christians, the Church, and Revolution”, in John Eagleson, ed., Christians and Socialism, John Drury, tr., (New York, 1975), pp.229-46]