Left-wing “social” Catholicism falsifies the Gospel and can promote violence, according to Catholic novelist Piers Paul Read’s new book.
The Death of a Pope, published in America on May 1 and available in Britain later in the year, intertwines real events with fiction, and is likely to be controversial for its attacks on secularism and liberal Catholicism, especially liberation theology.
Mr Read told the Herald: “The anti-hero is an aid worker, a Basque who was once a Jesuit in Salvador and left to join the guerrillas. He’s now an aid worker.
“The themes are Catholic ones, you could say it’s about the battle between liberal and conservative Catholics, a debate between the Tablet and The Catholic Herald. There is also a certain amount of satire.”
Mr Read said the theme originated with a visit to El Salvador in 1990, where many Catholics supported the Communists.
“I wrote a piece for the Independent about the Jesuits at the University of Central America, and more broadly the Catholics who supported liberation theology. I was once a Catholic radical but El Salvador was a long, drawn-out disaster. I began to realise, as Pope Benedict XVI puts it in his encyclical Spe Salvi: ‘Jesus was not Spartacus, he was not engaged in a fight for political liberation’.”
In an interview on the website of Ignatius Press, the book’s American publishers, Mr Read said: “When I was young I was a zealous exponent of liberation theology. As I grew older I like to think I grew wiser and came to see how ‘social’ Catholicism, however superficially appealing in the face of the suffering caused by poverty and injustice, in fact falsifies the teaching of the Gospels.