952: The music of Liberation Theology by Krysztof Daletski

Introduction by Peter Turner, M.A., M.Sc. (Zingcreed)

Krysztof asked me to publicise a forgotten Brazilian hymn he discovered. I’m glad to oblige.
You can hear it on youtube.com/watch?v=F_rpDoxvm6s
The text is printed at the end of the post.
Krysztof’s explanatory essay sets the scene:-

Background Information about “Patro Nia de Latin-Ameriko”
Krysztof Daletski, 2020

The original Portuguese text of this song (“Pai nosso da América Latina”) circulated anonymously
during the 1980s in Brazil, and it has not lost its topicality until today. To emphasize its relevance
beyond Brazil, I have translated it from Portuguese into the international language Esperanto and
have set it newly to music.
The song originates from the context of Liberation Theology, which emerged in the 1970s in Latin
America and started with the question “how to proclaim God in a reality characterized by the
premature and unjust death of many people” (G. Gutierrez). Important postulates of Liberation
Theology are:
• Social experience is an equally important “text” as scriptures, and the gospel has to be
interpreted in the context of this experience (“releitura”). This extends the “orthodoxy” of
the official church with the “orthopraxy” of base communities.
• The biblical God is not neutral, but partial on the side of the poor and oppressed. Hence, the
religious praxis must include active solidarity with them (“option for the poor”).
• The term “sin” is not restricted to personal misconduct, but can be applied, too, on social
circumstances that systematically lead to misery and oppression (“structural sin”).
Liberation theology sets itself apart from classical Roman Catholic social teaching, “which stresses
the mutual responsibility of labour and capital (and poor and rich countries) to work in harmony”
[3]. Classical teaching thereby deduces a duty of the poor to subordinate themselves, whilst the rich
in return have the duty to mitigate the hardship of the poor (“caritas”). Liberation theologists, in
contrast, do not consider the distribution of wealth and poverty to be a natural phenomenon like,
e.g., weather, but asked the question: Why are the poor poor?
In order to answer this question, they used analytical tools of political economics, especially of
marxism and dependency theory. Due to the characterization of structures leading to poverty and
misery as “sinful” (and thus to be overcome), it is not a theology about liberation, but for liberation:
it aims at overcoming the (especially: economical) status quo and the Church’s blessing of this
status quo.
The social commitment of many clergymen at the side of the non-persons was not without risk, and
many were killed by military or US backed death squads [5]. In some cases, this even aroused
international attention, like the murder of bishop Óscar Romero 1980 in El Salvador. Moreover, the
prophetic challenge through Liberation Theology, and also its recourse to marxist analysis aroused
the resentment of the anti-communist pope John-Paul II. He appointed cardinal Ratzinger as a
prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and they jointly started to drive back
Liberation Theology.
This was achieved by disciplinary actions, intense pressure on superiors to dismiss liberation
theologians, the “decapitation” of the Latin American Conference of Religious (CLAR), and,
primarily, by the systematic appointment of reactionary successors for vacant bishop positions [2].
Due to the long pontificate of John-Paul II, the Latin American episcopate meanwhile largely has
been cleansed, and the church reverted “to a pastoral concentration upon the middle classes and
bourgeois elite as the principal bulwarks of its influence in Brazil” [6]. A recent example is the visit
to Europe of a Venezuelan cardinal, during which he advocated the removal of the current leftist
government in his country and its replacement by a self-proclaimed counter-president [7].
Accordingly, he was welcomed favorably by representatives of the German government [8].
Although there are still today representatives of Liberation Theology, the measures taken by the
Vatican had the effect that these are no longer influential. And concerning the radical biblical texts,
like the Beatitudes or the Magnificat, John-Paul II clarified in “Libertatis consciencia” (1986) that
these are to be understood solely in an individual spiritual sense [2]. Such taming of the biblical
message has been a permanent companion of Christianity since the Constantinian shift [9], and it
might be necessary for a compatibility with support by the powerful. On the other hand, the lurking
radicality of the gospel waits for being rediscovered every now and then. And thus, this song is a
reminder that, among the pleas of the Lord’s prayer, there is the addition: “in earth as it is in
This is a translation of a text that first appeared in German in the online journal “Hinter den
Schlagzeilen” with the URL https://hinter-den-schlagzeilen.de/das-gebet-der-armen (Feb 26, 2020)
[1] U. Schoenborn: “Wie im Himmel, so auf Erden – Zur Rezeption des ‘Vaterunser’ in
Lateinamerika.” Transparent-extra 59/2000, pp. 1-24, 2000
[2] P. Hebblethwaite: “Liberation Theology and the Roman Catholic Church.” pp. 209-228 in C.
Rowland (ed.): The Cambridge companion to Liberation Theology. 2nd edition, Cambridge
University Press, 2007
[3] V. Fitzgerald: “The Economics of Liberation Theology.” pp. 248-264 in C. Rowland (ed.): The
Cambridge companion to Liberation Theology. 2nd edition, Cambridge University Press, 2007
[4] P. Turner: “Liberation Theology, Dead or Alive?”
https://zingcreed.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/liberation-theology/, 2013
[5] A. Wertz: “Die Weltbeherrscher – Militärische und geheimdienstliche Operationen der USA.”
pp. 178 & 205, Westend, 4. Aufl., 2015
[6] A. Dawson: “The Base Ecclesial Communities.” pp. 248-264 in C. Rowland (ed.): The
Cambridge companion to Liberation Theology. 2nd edition, Cambridge University Press, 2007
[7] J. Frank: “Kardinal aus Venezuela: ‘Uns regiert eine Verbrecherbande’.” Kölner Stadtanzeiger,
[8] Press release of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development from
15.05.2019, http://www.bmz.de/20190515-1
[9] E. Fromm: “Die Entwicklung des Christusdogmas: Eine psychoanalytische Studie zur
sozialpsychologischen Funktion der Religion.” Imago 16.3-4, pp. 305-357, 1930
This text is made freely available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
International license (CC BY 4.0), which allows its sharing and redistribution free of charge.
> ———————————————–
> Patro, Ho Patro nia!
> Father! Oh, Our Father!
> 1. Ho, Patro, ĉu la mondo iam estos / de l’ povruloj, niaj gefratoj?
> Ho, Patro, kiom dure, la popolon / per subpremado vidi krucumata!
> 1. Oh father, will the world once belong to the poor, our brothers and sisters?
> Oh father, how hard it is to see the folk crucified through oppression!
> 2. Ho, Patro, kiu viŝos for la larmojn / de l’ homoj kiuj sen pano?
> Ho, Patro, kiu kun favor’ satigos / la malriĉulojn per libereco?
> 2. Oh father, who will wipe off the tears of the people without bread?
> Oh father, who will gracefully satisfy the poor with freedom?
> 3. Ho, Patro de vundata Ameriko / Ve! Kiom da aflikta vivo!
> Ho, Patro, kiam venos libereco / al la popoloj de tiuj nacioj?
> 3. Oh, father of the wounded America, alas! How much grief!
> Oh father, when will freedom come to the peoples of these nations?
> 4. Ho, Patro, la rompita kor’ de nia / popol’ senŝarĝiĝon deziras!
> Ho, Patro, la espero de nuntempo / estas disdono kaj egaleco.
> 4. Oh father, the broken heart of our folk desires relief!
> Oh father, the hope of our time is repartition and egality.
> 5. Ho, Patro, ĉu la tero estos iam / de l’ povra popolamaso?
> Ho, Patro, ĉu la mondo estos nia, / de la povruloj, sen subpremado?
> 5. Oh father, will the earth once belong to the poor masses?
> Oh father, will the world once be ours, of the poor, without oppression

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