Liberation theology is a Christian political movement founded in Latin America. The term was coined in 1971 by Peruvian Catholic priest Gustavo Gutierrez, writer of one of the movement's chief texts, A Theology of Liberation (1972), though the idea itself goes back to the 1950s.
Poverty is oppression
Liberation theology claim that the root of poverty including Third World poverty is sin within society, specifically oppression and injustice against the poor, they don't blame the victims of poverty. Liberation theology teaches further that practice (or praxis) -- taking action against poverty and the sin that lies at its root -- is as important as doctrine. (Contrast the Protestant idea of sola scriptura.) It asserts that the Church can better meet the needs of the poor by decentralizing itself, and that God has a preference for those who are marginalized in society (the "preferential option for the poor").
The Brazilian group CELAM (the Latin American Episcopal Conference) was one of the major groups supporting LT-style ideas, though it never explicitly called itself such due to the fact that the Vatican was officially opposed to LT. It pushed the Second Vatican Council towards a more socially oriented stance in the early '60s.
The Roman Catholic Church under Benedict XVI and before opposed liberation theology as did secular critics (such as Glenn Beck) on the basis that it is Marxist. It's unclear how far if at all Pope Francis will encourage direct action against oppressors. Francis continually makes speeches condemning sinful Capitalism while selfish Rich people continue with business as usual.
Supporters of Liberation theology, in turn, accuse the Church of opposing it because it threatens their material interests, and because the Roman Catholic Church had ties to right-wing dictatorships in Latin America rather than because of Theology.
Not big fans
Needless to say, supporters of liberation theology are not big fans of Christian economics.
- "Glenn Beck sticks 'liberation theology' label on Obama's Christianity." The Christian Science Monitor. Aug 25, 2010.
Adapted from RationalWiki