Aparecida, Brazil: Pope Benedict XVI on 13 April 2007 criticized unnamed “authoritarian governments” in Latin America and the Caribbean as he opened a key conference of the region’s bishops.
Despite “notable progress towards democracy ... there are grounds for concern in the face of authoritarian forms of government and regimes wedded to certain ideologies that we thought had been superseded,” he said.
Without naming the governments, he said they “do not correspond to the Christian vision of man and society.”
He criticized both capitalists and communists regimes.
The pope said both the Marxist and capitalist systems, “the dominant tendencies of the last century,” had committed a “most destructive error ... as we can see from the results.”
The pope also called on countries that have adopted a “liberal economy” to redress “the ever-increasing sectors of society that find themselves oppressed by immense poverty or even despoiled of their own natural resources.”
“Anyone who excludes God from his horizons ... can only end up in blind alleys or with recipes for destruction,” he said, drawing applause from the bishops, who are to meet for the next two weeks.
The Pope also said that the Church should remain aloof from political leanings.
“If the Church were to start transforming herself into a directly political subject, she would do less, not more, for the poor and for justice (by identifying) with a single political path and with debatable partisan positions,” he said.
In the face of gaping economic inequalities in Latin America, large sections of the Church in the region remain under the influence of liberation theology, a movement with Marxist roots that was condemned by the Vatican in the 1970s and 1980s.
Benedict also rejected accusations that the Church was responsible for the destruction of pre-Columbian civilizations in the Americas.
“The proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbus cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture,” he said.