Weekend Roundup: Pope Francis Resurrects Liberation Theology -- Without Marx

05/29/2015 06:41 pm ET | Updated May 29, 2016
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If communism is "The God That Failed," liberation theology is the gospel that has succeeded. Marx may be dead, but the cause of the poor and oppressed has been resurrected.

This is the message the Argentine pope, Francis, sent by beatifying Oscar Romero, reversing decades of conservative opposition in the church hierarchy and setting the El Salvadoran archbishop on the road to sainthood. Romero was gunned down at the altar in 1980 by a right-wing death squad that regarded him as a dangerous Marxist because of his activism on behalf of the poor.

As Paul Vallely writes, Romero is an exemplar for Francis. Both are "orthodox and yet utterly radical." Romero is "a priest whose life stands in testament to the kind of Catholicism preferred by a pope who declared within days of his election that he wanted 'a poor Church for the poor.'"

In our Fusion series this week, illustrated with striking street murals, a gang leader says El Salvador still has lots to learn from the example of the martyred archbishop.

Refugees fleeing across the Mediterranean to Europe or from the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, especially Christians, have also been a focus of the pope's concerns. This week, Asia became the focal point of the asylum crisis, where thousands of Muslim Rohingya who have fled persecution in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar are desperately seeking refuge. Writing from Sydney, Elliott Brennan sees a parallel with the "boat people" crisis after the end of the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1970s, and calls on the ASEAN nations to embrace an emergency response similar to the EU's for the Mediterranean. Mehdi Hasan says that the silence of Aung San Suu Kyi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for championing human right in Myanmar, is inexcusable, a sentiment echoed by one of the great spiritual leaders of the East, the Dalai Lama. World editor Charlotte Alfred also reports that the Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina unleashed a heartless tirade against the migrants, calling them "mentally sick."

In Africa, the French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy worries that the escalating conflict in Burundi could be another Rwanda-type genocide in the making. World editor Nick Robins-Early talks to Middle East expert Emile Hokayem about the resentment among many Shia in Iraq who feel their militias are being used as "cannon fodder" in the fight against ISIS.

Europe is also entering an unsettling summer. Writing from Athens, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis continues to insist that "austerity is a deal-breaker" in any agreement with its creditors. As HuffPost Spain editor Montserrat Dominguez writes from Madrid, austerity policies there have also fractured the body politic, casting the two main parties from their dominant position in key municipal elections. Meanwhile, Alan Posener writes from Berlin that Germany's political class is "willing to ride the tiger of German anger toward the Americans" for partisan advantage as new revelations implicate its own intelligence services in spying. In our "Forgotten Fact" this week, we examine how public opinion pressure to recognize same sex marriages is growing in Italy now that predominantly Catholic Ireland has done so. Columbia law professor Georges Ugeux asks whether the recent U.K. election will prompt Europe to re-examine some key elements of its union -- including immigrant quotas and the power of national parliaments.

Ahead of Turkey's own election, WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones reports from Istanbul on why the upcoming vote could determine Erdogan's political destiny.

Writing from New Delhi, Shashi Tharoor scores Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first year in office, saying he has yet to distance himself from the "bigotry" of his Hindu fundamentalist party toward non-Hindu minorities. In another assessment, Aditya Karkera calls Modi "a flawed messiah" but "a great capitalist." Writing from Mumbai, Pavan Lall describes how the Foundation for Ecological Security is restoring denuded hillsides to grow sustainable crops in impoverished areas.

One of China's leading foreign policy voices, Fu Ying, asks whether her country's choice is either "to submit to the U.S. or challenge it" and calls on American and Chinese youth of the "post-90s" generation to be "more open and more ready to understand each other." WorldPost China Correspondent Matt Sheehan reports that, in a new poll, 78 percent of American students who studied in China "left with a more positive impression than when they arrived."

In an essay this week, I sum up the new state of mind in California, where Gov. Jerry Brown's frugal "era of limits" philosophy is restraining the budget, water usage and climate-altering carbon gases, convergent technologies are being cultivated and Latinos and Asians are coming to dominate the state's population.

Our Singularity University series this week looks at how the urge to play is behind the drive to innovate in Silicon Valley. Finally, our photo essays this week portray celebrations in Ireland over the same sex marriage victory, the searing heat wave in India and the majestic scenery in Bolivia.

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