“One person-one theology: icons of a fruitful history”


(from Alphonsian Academy blog)

“One person-one theology: icons of a fruitful history”. In memory of the 50th anniversary of the first edition of the book by the brother, pastor and theologian, Gustavo Gutiérrez (08.06.1928): Teología de la liberación: Perspectivas, CEP, Lima, 1971 [1].

Gustavo’s personal history, with its geographical and socio-cultural background, was interwoven with his journey as a priest-pastor-theologian. From his formation and pastoral journey, he sought to respond as openly and sincerely as possible to what he sensed as the grand challenge for the Christian faith. This response was born out of the winds of renewal of Vatican II and its reception in Latin America and the Caribbean at the Second General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate held in Medellín (1968) and can be seen outlined in what is considered the prelude to his book, his lecture “Towards a Theology of Liberation”, delivered at the Second Meeting of Priests and Laity held in Chimbote (Peru, 21-25 July 1968). There, two things appear as the root and the narrative and structural continuity of liberation theology (TdL): the importance of the so-called “signs of the times” and that theological work is always a second function, since it is the elaboration from the commitment of faith to the demands of reality, especially of the most disadvantaged and impoverished. Theology announces the kingdom of God and helps to realise it as a response to the demands of emancipation and liberation.

Gustavo’s life has not been linear or straightforward, nor has that of TdL, in its different versions [2]. But, in general, both have been gratified, one could say, by the ecclesial community, symbolised in the figure of Pope Francis [3], and by the way in which this theology has been able to continue to grow and transform itself without losing its most genuine roots. Both the changes in reality, with their different epochal challenges and the different approaches and contributions that have been added, have contributed to this history in which it is committed to highlighting the sapiential and prophetic charge of the Gospel received as a liberating proposal. Think of the contributions coming from women and theology in a feminine and liberating key, the ecological perspectives, the considerations from the native cultures and peoples, the new sensibilities of the new generations of theologians, the extension in and from other geographical areas such as Africa and Asia, etc.

To study and deepen this theology is to learn an evangelical way of realising oneself as a believer; it is clear that one learns from light and shadow, and always with creative fidelity. To continue is not to copy or imitate, but to continue to be always open to the newness of the God of Life and of history, and of its possible receptions in each epoch and historical reality. We hope that you can join us in opening up new perspectives of a liberating moral theology, attentive to the signs of the times, to the demands of the most disadvantaged, neglected and discarded people, to the cries of our ecosystemic reality and to the yearnings for a real hope of life, and which – above all – not only echoes and speaks with the voice of these cries, a liberating moral theology realised in chorus with the true protagonists of the newness of God. As Gutiérrez said: “one must be careful not to fall into intellectual self-satisfaction, into a kind of triumphalism made up of erudite and advanced “new” visions of Christianity. The only really new thing is to accept day by day the gift of the Spirit who makes us love in our concrete choices to build a true human fraternity, in our historical initiatives to subvert an order of injustice, with the fullness with which Christ loved us” (TdL -1990-, 339-340).

Fr. Antonio Gerardo Fidalgo, CSsR

(the original is in Spanish)


[1] See: Gustavo GUTIÉRREZ, Teología de la Liberación. Perspectivas, Sígueme, Salamanca 19757. Available at: https://hectorucsar.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/gutierrez-gustavo-teologia-de-la-liberacion-perspectiva.pdf In this publishing house the first edition was from 1972; consult the revised and enlarged edition 14 (1990), in which you can see the “Introduction to the original edition”, 13-15 and then “Mirar lejos. Introduction to the new edition”, 17-53, where the Author takes a historical and renewed look at his contribution and at TdL itself. Reproducing this Introduction is an edition of the Centro de Estudios y Publicaciones (CEP) in conjunction with the Instituto Bartolomé de las Casas (IBC): Teología De La Liberación. Perspectivas, CEP-IBC, Lima 2014. Consider some publications (there have been many) that have been recalling the life and work of G. Gutiérrez: Christian BÜSCHGES, “50 años de la Teología de la Liberación. Introducción”, in Iberoamericana 18/68 (2018) 7-11; “90 años de Gustavo Gutiérrez y 50 de la Teología de la Liberación”, in https://jesuitas.lat/redes-sociales/noticias-cpal-social/2270-90-anos-de-gustavo-gutierrez-y-50-de-la-teologia-de-la-liberacion-2362; Víctor CODINA, “La teología de la liberación, 50 años después”, in Éxodo 153 (2020): https://www.exodo.org/la-teologia-de-la-liberacion-50-anos-despues/; Ángel Alberto MORILLO, “La teologia de la liberación 50 años después, entre herejes y profetas”, in Vida Nueva 3240 (2021) 8-13 (Vida Nueva digital -01/10/2021- https://www.vidanuevadigital.com/2021/10/01/).
[2] See: Our contribution where you can find some of the history of LT and its relationship with moral theology: Antonio G. FIDALGO, “Teologia de la Liberación 50 años después, entre herejes y profetas”. FIDALGO, “Teologia Morale e Teologia della Liberazione in America latina”, in Paolo CARLOTTI (a cura di), La Teologia Morale italiana e l’ATISM a 50 anni dal Concilio: Eredità e futuro, Atti del 26° Congresso Nazionale nel 50° di fondazione, Ariccia 22-26 agosto 2016, Cittadella, Assisi 2017, 213-252.
[3] See: Pope Francis’ letter greeting Gustavo Gutiérrez on his 90th birthday, 28 May 2018, where he says: “I join in your thanksgiving to God and I also thank you for how much you have contributed to the Church and to humanity, through your theological service and your preferential love for the poor and the discarded of society. Thank you for all your efforts and for your way of challenging the conscience of everyone, so that no one remains indifferent to the drama of poverty and exclusion. In addition, many issues should be considered in which the current Pope is quite in tune with the best legacy of the ToL. Cf. Juan Carlos SCANNONE, Il Papa del popolo. Bergoglio raccontato dal confratello teologo gesuita e argentino; colloqui con Bernadette Sauvaget, LEV, Città del Vaticano 2015; ID, La teología del pueblo. Raíces teológicas del papa Francisco, Sal Terrae, Maliaño 2017.