A Theology of Liberation
History, Politics, and Salvation
By Gustavo Gutiérrez
This is the credo and seminal text of the movement which was later characterized as liberation theology. The book burst upon the scene in the early seventies, and was swiftly acknowledged as a pioneering and prophetic approach to theology which famously made an option for the poor, placing the exploited, the alienated, and the economically wretched at the centre of a programme where “the oppressed and maimed and blind and lame” were prioritized at the expense of those who either maintained the status quo or who abused the structures of power for their own ends. This powerful, compassionate and radical book attracted criticism for daring to mix politics and religion in so explicit a manner, but was also welcomed by those who had the capacity to see that its agenda was nothing more nor less than to give “good news to the poor”, and redeem God’s people from bondage. [Description from Fishpond Books Australia]. Continue reading →
An introduction to Conscience Behind Bars / the Prison Letters of Norman Lowry
Is it possible to quietly and unobtrusively live an honorable life in the middle of a dishonorable society?
Whatever your answer to this question, I appeal to you not to answer it too quickly. I am convinced that if you live with the question for a while, you will come to see how impossible it is to turn away from the injustices of one’s time, and not, by gradual degrees, become an accomplice to them. I doubt that anyone on earth actually wants this realization, but when it arrives, you can’t send it back.
Norman Lowry’s time in prison and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s time in the Birmingham jail are separated by half a century. Many things have changed in that half-century, but one thing is certainly the same: the struggle of a person to do the right thing when confronted with massacres and blatant violations of human rights and human dignity.
A sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace. In the sacramental churches, the main obstacle to the ordination of women is the idea that the masculinity of Jesus requires the priest to resemble him as a male. But this is a fallacy which is rooted in the patriarchal norm of the father as head of the family and not on divine revelation.
“This is my body.” What matters for the sacramental economy, and for the priest to be a visible sign of the acting presence of Christ, is not that Jesus is male but that in him the eternal Word assumed human nature in a human body, and “became flesh.” The proper matter for the sacrament is “flesh,” not “maleness.” Therefore, the necessary and sufficient condition for outward resemblance is the human body, whether male or female. The advent of women priests and bishops is also required to make the church hierarchy a complete image of Jesus Christ as a divine Person who became incarnate and abides in the Trinity. All the sacraments are nuptial. None of the sacraments was instituted by Christ to be gender-exclusive.
The choice of the 12 male apostles by Jesus is a particularity of his earthly mission to the people of Israel and should not remain normative as the church becomes incarnate in post-patriarchal cultures. Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate would be in perfect continuity with apostolic tradition.
From: Phillip Berryman, Liberation Theology, 1987, Pantheon Books, New York.
According to Amnesty International, 83 people were killed between March 10 and 14, 1980 in El Salvador. In San Salvador on March 23, the Sunday morning after soldiers had killed a student at a Catholic university, Archbishop Oscar Romero pleaded:
My brothers, they are part of our very own people. You are killing your own fellow peasants. God’s law, “Thou shalt not kill!” takes precedence over a human being’s order to kill. No soldier is obliged to obey an order that is against God’s law. No one has to obey an immoral law.
Romero had consulted a team of priests, sisters, and lay people for his sermon – they had agreed that the amount of violence justified a direct challenge to the military. Romero was shot while saying mass the next day. His funeral was the target of a bomb and automatic weapons. The church would later document 588 murders that month, almost entirely the work of official government and unofficial right-wing agents.
Those moments – that sermon, Romero’s murder, his funeral – are among the most important in my life. They also express the core of liberation theology…
Pope Francis and the Vatican have recognized Oscar Romero as a martyr. This may move the name of the late archbishop of San Salvador a little further in the process that could one day make him a saint.
But being deemed a martyr is also holy. It means the church believes his life can inspire people; Pope Francis has said Romero inspires him.
Romero was considered a kindly, orthodox conservative parish priest when Pope Paul appointed him archbishop in 1977. He did not question El Salvador’s ruling regime.
But that regime began to round up priests and nuns who said the teachings of Jesus led them to oppose El Salvador’s military rulers. Several priests were killed. And Romero was truly galvanized. Responsibility opened his ear, and made his resolve as hard as steel.
A dialogue between Dr. Paul Farmer and Theologian Gustavo Gutiérrez
When Dr. Paul Farmer came to campus in April to accept the Notre Dame Award for International Human Development and Solidarity on behalf of the global health organization he cofounded 25 years ago, he was profoundly moved by the opportunity to talk to a member of the Notre Dame community who has deeply inspired his mission to bring high-quality health care to the very poor.
Rev. Gustavo Gutiérrez, OP, the John Cardinal O’Hara Professor of Theology and a Kellogg Institute Faculty Fellow, is known around the world as the founder of liberation theology.
“Fr. Gustavo is one of my heroes and has inspired much of my own work in global health with a preferential option for the poor,” says Farmer, who is renowned for his efforts with Partners In Health (PIH). He suggested that he return to campus to hold a public dialogue with Gutiérrez—and carved time out of his busy schedule to do so.
Their dialogue, “Re-imagining Accompaniment: Global Health and Liberation Theology,” took place on Monday, October 24 as part of the “Discussions on Development” series.
The dialogue was streamed live to a Harvard University auditorium, where Farmer’s students and colleagues and PIH supporters gathered. A publication will likely result from the public dialogue.
A medical anthropologist and physician, Farmer is Kolokotrones University Professor at Harvard University, chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and a founding director of PIH. His work focuses on community-based treatment strategies for infectious diseases in resource-poor settings, health and human rights, and the role of social inequalities in determining disease distribution and outcomes.
By Sharon Abercrombie | Feb. 10, 2015 Eco Catholic Section, National Catholic Reporter
Ten years after the murder of Notre Dame de Namur Sr. Dorothy Stang, her alma mater is honoring the beloved “angel of the Amazon” with a week of special events marking her ongoing legacy of service in the mission field.Stang, a 1964 graduate of Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, Calif., spent nearly 40 years in Brazil as an advocate for indigenous people and the rainforest. She was killed Feb. 12, 2005, by two hired gunmen while walking along a dirt road in Anapu, in Brazil’s Para state.Angered by Stang’s involvement in helping the poor gain legal access to land, wealthy Brazilian loggers and ranchers engineered her assassination. Five men were eventually linked to the her death. A coordinator with the Brazilian bishops’ Pastoral Land Commission told Catholic News Service recently that only one remains in prison, while three are only required to sleep there, and the fifth has yet to serve prison time.
The Notre Dame de Namur celebration of Stang’s life and work comes during its Founders’ Week (Feb. 8-12). On Tuesday a panel of speakers — family members, in addition to religious community colleagues and supporters — will share memories of their treasured sibling and friend. Other events include a Wednesday screening of the film “They Killed Sr. Dorothy,” followed the next day by a tour of the campus garden and a candlelight prayer vigil that evening.
The Thursday events, marking the 10-year anniversary of Stang’s death, will conclude that evening with a concert, wrapping up the commemorative week.
Robert F. Kennedy gave this speech, “The Mindless Menace of Violence,” in 1968 on the day after Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was killed in Memphis. Kennedy himself was assassinated a few months later, making of these words his final plea to us to grow toward compassion and to renounce violence. His words still speak to us, some fifty years later, reminding us that violence has a deep grip on the soul of America. In the United States, in my view, Liberation Theology must address our profound cultural fascination with and addiction to violence. (Dennis Rivers)