Criticized by Ratzinger, Liberation Theology hailed at Vatican as founder gets hero's welcome

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — The founder of liberation theology, the Latin American-inspired Catholic theology advocating for the poor, has received a hero's welcome at the Vatican as the once-criticized movement continues its rehabilitation under Pope Francis.

The Rev. Gustavo Gutierrez was the surprise speaker Tuesday at a book launch featuring the head of the Vatican's orthodoxy office, Cardinal Gerhard Mueller; one of Francis' top advisers, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga; and the Vatican spokesman.

The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger spent much of his tenure at Mueller's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith battling liberation theology, arguing that it misinterpreted Jesus' preference for the poor into a Marxist call for armed rebellion.

Guttierez insists true liberation theology was always perfectly in line with the church's social teaching about the poor that Francis widely embraces.

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