Paraguay’s President Fernando Lugo, a former Catholic Bishop and leading Liberation Theology proponent, called at the World Social Forum for the creation of a “religious Mercosur” and invited all of the region’s religious leaders to an ecumenical summit in Asuncion on 12-13 March.
Lugo says he wants to give Mercosur “a people’s face” and insists the regional “discussion of religiosity, which is so important,” cannot be absent from relations between the nations of South America. Lugo also revealed he already has invited the Brazilian liberation theologists Leonardo Boff and Carlos Alberto Libanio Christo (aka Frei Betto) to the event in Asuncion.
It will be interesting to see what happens at Lugo’s religion summit, and who attends. The resuscitated Liberation theologists of the 1960s were Catholic rebels in a region that was over 90% Catholic. However, while Catholicism still predominates, South America is also populated liberally today with Evangelical Christians (Protestants) and Muslims. And over three decades of indigenous rights activism has strengthened indigenous native religions in many countries.
Has Lugo invited the region’s evangelical Christian leaders and Muslim Imams to his religion summit? Will the event also be well-attended by indigenous shamans from the hundreds of Andes and Amazon tribes in the region? Will the Babalus and other Afro-Caribbean voodoo and spirit-worshiping faiths also be represented? We wonder, also, how Lugo will seek to reconcile the ideological secularism of the region’s current crop of socialist leaders with the tired old silliness of Marxist-flavored Catholicism, which is all that liberation theology really is.