My Favourite Theologian: Gustavo Gutiérrez

Gustavo Gutiérrez (1928- )

Revd Chris Howson

Few theologians have shaped the course of history in the way that Gustavo Gutiérrez has. His life of service and dedication to the poor has inspired millions of people, from Venezuelan presidents and lowly priests in Sunderland.

Gustavo Gutiérrez Merino, O.P. is a Peruvian theologian and Dominican priest regarded as one of the principal founders of liberation theology in Latin America. In September 1984, a special assembly of Peruvian bishops were summoned to Rome for the express purpose of condemning Gutiérrez, but the bishops held firm. Gutiérrez’s ground-breaking work, A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, Salvation (1971), explains his notion of Christian poverty as an act of loving solidarity with the poor as well as a liberatory protest against poverty.

According to Gutiérrez, true ‘liberation’ has three main dimensions. First, it involves political and social liberation, the elimination of the immediate causes of poverty and injustice. Second, liberation involves the emancipation of the poor, the marginalised, the downtrodden and the oppressed from all ‘those things that limit their capacity to develop themselves freely and in dignity.’ Third, it involves liberation from selfishness and sin, a re-establishment of a relationship with God and with other people.

We have all of his works published in English up in the 'Victor Jara Liberation Theology Library', but I highly recommend Sharing the Word through the Liturgical Year  (1995) which distills much of Gutiérrez's wisdom through his inspiring weekly homilies.

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Part of this series was also published in issue 151 of Movement magazine, the Community issue. Movement magazine is distributed free to SCM members and supporters, and you can request a copy here.