Roman Catholic movement that originated in the late 20th century in Latin America and seeks to express religious faith by helping the poor and working for political and social change. It began in 1968, when bishops attending the Latin American Bishops' Conference in Medellín, Colom., affirmed the rights of the poor and asserted that industrialized nations were enriching themselves at the expense of the Third World. The movement's central text, A Theology of Liberation (1971), was written by the Peruvian priest Gustavo Gutiérrez (b. 1928). Liberation theologians have sometimes been criticized as purveyors of Marxism, and the Vatican has sought to curb their influence by appointing more conservative prelates.
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