Global Health and Liberation Theology

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.

The Kellogg Institute’s Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity hosts the Discussions on Development series to encourage thoughtful public discussion by the University community on issues related to human development.

This 2011 event was cosponsored by the Center for Health Sciences Advising, Center for Social Concerns, Department of Theology, and Eck Institute for Global Health.






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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 [1] 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.

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A presentation by Dr. Laura Taylor, CSB/SJU Theology Dept. Sponsored by CSB/SJU Latino/Latin American Studies Department, College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. February, 2016.










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)