Former Soviet spy: We created Liberation Theology

Ion Mihai Pacepa on Raul Castro's yacht in Cuba, 1974.
Former KGB Spy Ion Pacepa has claimed that Liberation Theology, currently being promoted by Pope Francis, was a creation of the KGB.
A former KGB Spy has recently claimed that Liberation Theology – condemned by previous popes but currently promoted by Pope Francis – is a creation of the KGB and the Soviet Union.

The Catholic News Agency has published an interview with Ion Mihai Pacepa, a former general in Romania’s secret police who was one of the Eastern Bloc’s highest-ranking defectors in the 1970s. In it, he says that the Soviet Union – and the KGB in particular – created Liberation Theology, the quasi-Marxist movement that flourished in Latin America from the 1960s to the 1990s. Previous popes, particularly St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, have condemned Liberation Theology, and have written in unequivocal terms that it is “incompatible with the Christian Faith”.

Pacepa makes detailed claims that the Soviets kick-started, funded and moulded liberation theology.  He cites as one of his sources Aleksandr Sakharovsky, the Russian agent who set up Romania’s secret police agency. Pacepa describes him as his ‘de facto boss’ in the 1950s. Sakharovsky later became head of the First Chief Directorate of the KGB.

Here are the key quotes from the interview:

The birth of Liberation Theology was the intent of a 1960 super-secret ‘Party-State Dezinformatsiya Programme’ approved by Aleksandr Shelepin, the chairman of the KGB, and by Politburo member Aleksey Kirichenko, who coordinated the Communist Party’s international policies.

The KGB began by building an intermediate international religious organization called the Christian Peace Conference (CPC), which was headquartered in Prague. Its main task was to bring the KGB-created Liberation Theology into the real world.

The new Christian Peace Conference was managed by the KGB and was subordinated to the venerable World Peace Council (WPC), another KGB creation, founded in 1949 and by then also headquartered in Prague.

During my years at the top of the Soviet bloc intelligence community I managed the Romanian operations of the WPC. It was as purely KGB as it gets. Most of the WPC’s employees were undercover Soviet bloc intelligence officers…Even the money for the WPC budget came from Moscow, delivered by the KGB in the form of laundered cash dollars to hide their Soviet origin.

Pacepa claims that the KGB was directly involved in the holding of a conference by leftist South American bishops in Medellin, with the stated goal of institutionalizing a new form of Marxism under the guise of Liberation Theology:

I was not involved in the creation of Liberation Theology per se. From Sakharovsky I learned, however, that in 1968 the KGB-created Christian Peace Conference, supported by the world-wide World Peace Council, was able to manoeuvre a group of leftist South American bishops into holding a Conference of Latin American Bishops at Medellin, Colombia. The Conference’s official task was to ameliorate poverty. Its undeclared goal was to recognise a new religious movement encouraging the poor to rebel against the ‘institutionalised violence of poverty’, and to recommend the new movement to the World Council of Churches for official approval. The Medellin Conference achieved both goals. It also bought the KGB-born name ‘Liberation Theology’.

Condemned by Previous Popes

Pope John Paul II waged a decades-long campaign inside the Church to quash Liberation Theology and silence its most ardent supporters. As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the time, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger published the Instruction “Libertatis Nuntius” on August 6, 1984, with the approval of Pope John Paul II. Its purpose was to focus the attention of pastors, theologians and all the faithful on the deviations of Liberation Theology that are dangerous for the faith and for the Christian life and that are based on Marxist thought.

As pope, Benedict XVI exhorted all those who in some way feel attracted or affected by “certain deceitful principles of Liberation Theology” to re-visit the instruction and be open to the light that it can shed on the subject.

Pope Francis with Cuban Communist President Fidel Castro
Pope Francis with Cuban Communist President Raul Castro

Liberation Theology is Rehabilited Under Pope Francis

The Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, has written that with Francis’ election, Liberation Theology can no longer “remain in the shadows to which it has been relegated for some years.”

Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez, the Dominican priest from Peru who is known as the father of Liberation Theology, was a featured speaker at an official Vatican press conference launching a major meeting of the Vatican’s charity arm, Caritas Internationalis, on May 2015.

On September 11, 2013, Pope Francis hosted Fr. Gutierrez in his residence, leading some to comment that this was a sign of warming relations between the hierarchy and liberation theologians. On January 18, 2014, Pope Francis met with Fr. Arturo Paoli, an Italian priest whom the Pope knew from Paoli’s long service in Argentina. Paoli is recognized as an exponent of Liberation Theology, and the meeting was seen as a sign of “reconciliation” between the Vatican and the liberationists.

Communist Cuba and Pope Francis

More recently, Pope Francis was the central figure in brokering a deal between Communist Cuba and the United States.  In an audience with Pope Francis in the Vatican on May 10, 2015, Cuban president Raul Castro thanked the pope for his role in brokering the deal:  “I am very happy. I have come here to thank him for what he has done to begin solving the problems of the United States and Cuba.”


  1. The Catholic Church vs. Liberation Theology

    by Chris Dickson, F.L.A.

    I am appalled by the naivete of our Church being duped into anti-Christian communism. Liberation theology is a threat to free society by its undermining of the Church and its Magisterium through attempting to redefine moral issues (changing the Gospel to support theology opposed to shaping theology as a result of the Gospel.)

    Ignorance is not bliss and unless we familiarize ourselves with the dangers, then future generations will demand answers as to why we threw away our freedom in lieu of communism.

    To quote Gustavo Gutierrez (the “father” of liberation theology,) “There is no evil in being subversive, struggling against the capitalist system…Liberation leads to reinterpreting the Gospel…As I have witnessed the power of Marxism to provide motivation for a life of service where none existed before, I have come to a new appreciation of this part of my own history. I cannot settle for any story of America that fails to give a central place to this vision.”

    Again, Roger Garaudy (one of France’s foremost Marxist intellectuals) wrote, “Socialism is a traditional stage in the passage from capitalism to communism.” Also, “When the established order involves such injustice that millions of men are exploited, oppressed, mutilated, and humiliated by this order, a revolution, even armed revolution, can be less costly and in the long run less ‘violent’ than this established disorder, which has become pure violence. Of this, incidentally, many Christians are today becoming conscious, including, for example, even priests and bishops in Latin America.”

    Charles E. Curran, no longer permitted by the Church to teach moral theology at Catholic universities, has stated,”Questions arise in the light of both the importance and the limitations of Scriptures. In the light of the most striking development has been the emergence of dissent within the Roman Catholic theological community from the teachings of the hierarchical magisterium on specific moral issues.”

    One cannot help but feel an air of approval when local archdiocesan newspapers print articles written by these people. Already we have seen a swing by our priests and educators away from the Church’s doctrine of “norma normans non normata”(the Scriptures being the norm above all other norms by which all norms are taken) and are thus shown to question the Scripture’s relevance in our daily lives.

    Perhaps we need to seek the definition of a couple terms which seem to have taken on good and bad connotations in complete reversal of their intended meanings:

    First of all, the term orthodoxy means “right praise,” or consistency with the faith of the Church as embodied in Sacred Scripture, the Fathers, official teachings and the liturgy.

    Libertaion theology, on the other hand, is defined as a new type of theology which emphasizes the motif of liberation in both Old and New Testaments and which reinterprets all doctrines in terms of that motif. Forms of liberation theology include Latin American, black and feminist.

    Jesus “liberated” all of us from the bonds of oppression. Rather than reinterpreting the Gospel, perhaps we would be better served to “live it.” This idea may not be popular with some in the Church today, but by returning to the basics of our faith, we will be truly liberated through the instruction of Sacred Scriptures if only we would accept Jesus as the catalyst of our lives.


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