José P. Miranda: Marxism and the Papal Encyclical, 1971

marxandthebiblecover“It is well known that many European and North American evaluations of Populorum progressio referred to it as “the complete résumé of Marxist and pro-Marxist cliches.” But this judgment is not only the resentful position of conservatives. Already in 1951, years before the publication of the encyclical and even before Mater et Magistra, Oswald von Nell-Breuning, S.J., a recognized spokesman for Catholic social doctrine in Germany, had this to say in his commentary on no. 100 of Quadragesimo anno: “This analysis of economic society and–for what it says concerning the industrialized countries–of society as a whole is the imperishable achievement of Marx. All subsequent critiques of capitalism are based, to one degree or another, on it.”

And in 1967 the same author in his article on “The Catholic Church and the Marxist Critique of Capitalism” spells out how “we are all riding on Marx’s shoulders.” There is no doubt that the encyclicals take their diagnosis of society from Marx, a society divided into classes, in which some are owners of the means of production and others, the proletariat, are able to contribute only their own labor and are forced to submit to the decision-making power of the capitalists. The inevitability of the confrontation between the two classes, affirmed by Quadragesimo anno, is also a thesis taken from Marx; the only difference is that Pius XI calls “confrontation” what Marx calls “struggle.” The necessity of building a classless society–with the difference that Marx calls it such while the pontifical doctrine terms it a “society free of classes”–is another noteworthy loan. The need to conceive and seek a transformation of structures and institutions and not only a reform of attitudes and persons, as Catholics taught before Marx, is another outstanding and most important example. With the transformability of institutions we also learn from Marx to think with a historical mentality about the social problems; this is perhaps still more important.

To this analysis of Nell-Breuning we could easily add a whole list of passages and argument from Populorum progressio which directly or indirectly are derived from Marx. The list would include paragraphs of the greatest human profundity, those dedicated to the search for “a new humanism which will enable modern man to find himself anew” (Populorum progressio, no. 20). The encyclical affirms, “The development of which we speak cannot be limited to mere economic growth. . . . We do not believe in separating the economic from the human” (no. 14). Here it is well to recall Bigo’s statement in 1953 about Marx’s conception of science. It is an understanding of phenomena from the inside. It is directed not toward appearances but toward reality. It presupposes a constant effort, when dealing with the economic reality, to pass … from a material viewpoint to a human viewpoint.

When there are so many and such important derivations, recognized not only by liberals but also by the most authoritative Catholic authors, it is disconcerting to find in Populorum progressio an attack against what it calls “messianism laden with promises but fabricators of illusions” (no. 14, original Italian version), for it is clear that the allusion here is to Marxism. It would be more accurate to recognize that it was the messianists who, by risking their lives and even losing them and by renouncing any advantageous social position, struggled for social justice against capitalist oppression long before the Church did. It would be more accurate and truthful to affirm that it was precisely this messianic element, the polarizer of immense proletarian masses, which forced a pope finally to come out in favor of the workers, as any reader of Rerum novarum can see. If the risk was much less and the acceptability much greater when the popes finally spoke up, this was because of these messianists. It was they who without assured social status and in the midst of the illegality with which the capitalist legislation afflicted them sacrificed everything for the poor and the oppressed. It was they who had to struggle even against the Church itself, which later took from them its ideas of justice.

Of course, in the Western socio-cultural system the Church is not the only institution which has adopted intuitions of Marx without publicly acknowledging it. To cite just one example we need look only to the schools of philosophy and economics in our universities. At one time Marx’s contributions to both disciplines were disdainfully considered as less than irrelevant; now there is an overwhelming need to study his theses with great dedication. But institutions have always demonstrated a conspicuous inability to repent, to recognize errors and injustices and remedy them. Thus we must realize that it is not enough merely to take seriously today the Marx whom we scorned yesterday; nor is it enough to execute almost imperceptibly some effectual change. The former preterition was not a mere careless omission. If we are to abandon yesterday’s position, we must also revise the whole system of ideas and values which made such a position necessary. Real conversion is needed, not lukewarm concealment of changes which are made underhandedly.

A work like the present one cannot escape the fact that this approach has caused in the Church a situation which, as much as we might dislike it, must be called division. The teaching of Pius XII, John XXIII, and Paul VI that there is no absolute right to ownership unites broad sectors of Catholics, while others espouse paragraphs like no. 15 of Rerum novarum or the rejection of violence by Paul VI in Bogota or this teaching of Pius X which makes one marvel: “In the order of human society as established by God there are rulers and ruled, employers and employees, rich and poor, learned and ignorant, nobility and proletariat.” These paragraphs were never revoked, yet other teachings have taken a completely different direction. Thus if anyone were to claim to support the papal doctrine in its totality, he would be either insincere or ignorant of the doctrine. This would also be true of anyone who wished to reconcile Vatical II with Pius IX and the Syllabus. The unity is broken and any apologetic in this regard is a lost cause. This is not pluralism but a real and true division with which we must reckon from now on. Michel Blaise puts it clearly: “The unity of the Catholic world is broken.” If we are to take seriously and with all their implications some of the most important papal teachings, we cannot promise to arrive at conclusions which are completely reconcilable with all the papal declarations which have been made and not revoked. They are not completely consistent. It would be more humble, although not exactly more favorable to Catholic unity, to follow the directive of Paul VI: “It belongs to the laymen, without waiting passively for orders and directives, to take the initiative freely and to infuse a Christian spirit into the mentality, customs, laws and structures of the community in which they live” (Populorum progressio, no. 81).

The situation of the Church little lends itself to triumphalism. Thus, the present work is able to point out the ideological causes of capitalist oppression without pretending that these philosophies have not existed and do not now exist in the Church. I fell into this partisan approach in an earlier book, Hambre y sed de justicia.

If there were no divisions in the Church, as certain officious declarations would have it, the leftist sectors would already have left the Church, for they could not tolerate being identified with those who support exploitative social regimes. If they were to be asked why they do not leave, they would have incomparably more right to return the question: Why do the rightists, as a Church of the rich, insist on belonging to an institution which was established to be the Church of the poor?

As regards the method of this work, the initial question which we pose is this: How was it possible that Catholic doctrine defended private ownership of the means of production? The first chapter points out how astonishing this is, given the antecedents in the Bible and the tradition of the first four centuries of Christianity. The rest of the book is a positive effort to understand the mentality, the very way of thinking, which we find in the Bible, for the position to which we have alluded follow a manner of thinking which is common to both Christian theology-philosophy and to Western science, and indeed to Western civilization in general as derived from the Greeks. […] Private ownership is treated only in the first chapters as an initial example; it is however, an example which is extremely important in itself and for economic theory.

On the other hand, Marx’s critique of Western political economy and philosophy is not for us merely an example. I am explicitly retracting here the position I affirmed in Hambre y sed de justicia, that is, that the dialectical mentality is incompatible with a genuine morality. I was deceived by my own superficiality when I read Marx’s criticisms of morality. The truth is, as I explain in the last chapter, that it is precisely an acute moral sense which makes thinking dialectical; it makes one unable to resign oneself to a present reality that is without contradictions and that therefore remains forever as it is. Only dialectical philosophy is capable of discovering in past and present reality the inexorable exigency for a more human world. Marx could not relate this exigency with the pantocrator god that the oppressive West adored and continues to adore. I assume his rejection of this idol and of all idols; see chapter 2.”

José Porfirio Miranda
José Porfirio Miranda

— from José Porfirio Miranda’s “Introduction” in his Marx and the Bible: A Critique of the Philosophy of Oppression (1974), pp. xiii-xvii. Translated by John Eagleson from the Spanish, Marx y la biblia, Critica a la filosofia de la opresión (1971), Ediciones Sigueme, Salamanca.


José Miguez Bonino: Jürgen Moltmann in Latin America, 70s-90s

For more than five centuries now, Europe has been constantly present in what she herself baptized as “Latin America.” As the so-called “new world” tries to understand itself, some of its interpretations celebrate that presence while others bemoan it, but no serious interpretation can ignore it What is true of the general history and culture of Latin America is perhaps even more significant for its religious and theological tradition. It should not, therefore, surprise us that the theological production of the last three decades that has come to be known as Latin American “Liberation Theology” would relate to the more significant trends in North Atlantic-and above all European-theology. In particular, the work of Catholic theologians like Juan Luis Segundo, Gustavo Gutierrez, Hugo Assmann or Leonardo Boff or Protestants like Rubem Alves, Emilio Castro, Gonzalo Castillo, Julio de Santa Ana or myself can easily be shown to have watered at the sources of the Catholic theological renewal represented by Rahner, de Lubac or Congar and/or the Protestant post-First World War Barthian stream. Even as we tried to liberate ourselves from the burden of our Eurocentric inheritance and to root our theology more and more deeply in the native soil of our land and people, our work betrayed-as many critics have amply documented-the constant use of categories, presuppositions, and methods created and developed overseas. After all, for all their originality-which cannot be denied Medellin is a Latin American interpretation of Vatican II and !SAL (the Latin American “Church and Society” movement) is a daughter of the World Council of Churches (more specifically, the developments of the Life and Work movement).

J. Moltmann and Latin America

moltmannIn this love-hate relationship between European and Latin American Liberation Theology, few people have played such a significant role as Jurgen Moltmann. To explore that relationship during the last twenty-five years is to write a significant chapter in the history of this movement and, perhaps, to uncover something of its strength and shortcomings. This paper is no more than an initial attempt to explore that territory. A few dates and events will suffice to indicate the itinerary of this trip.

I . As Rubem Alves was preparing his doctoral dissertation at Princeton (New jersey, USA) in 1965-68, his intended title (“T awards a Theology of Liberation”) was transformed by advisers and editors into “A Theology of Human Hope”‘ to yoke it to the wagon of “The Theology of Hope” which Moltmann had launched in 1965. In fact, his thesis can be understood (or misunderstood)-as we shall comment below-as a counterpoint to Moltmann’ s book. And when Gustavo Gutierrez published the epoch-making “Theology of Liberation” (and not “A” Theology of Liberation as the English translation put it) in 1971 (following several papers with the same title) Moltmann’s thought is discussed, mostly in positive terms, in at least three sections of the book.

2. 1973 marks an interesting turn in the discussion. In May of that year the World Council of Churches convened a four-day symposium on liberation theology in Geneva at the Ecumenical center in Bossey. Hugo Assmann and Paulo Freire from Latin America, and black theologians James Cone (from USA) and Bodipo Malumba (from Africa) and some sixty theologians from Europe sustained what was characterized as “heated debates that did not materialize into an open confrontation-but retrogressed into periods of awkward silence.”‘ In 1970, Hugo Assmann had already published an article in which he indicated the “suspicion” that, against the will and intention of their proponents, European “political theology” might be functional to the reactionary dogmatics and ethics, in which political theological discussion derived supposedly “pure” and “uncommitted” dogmatic formulations; second, by refusing to bring down their “political discussion” to the level of concrete political options, they left an indeterminate space in which all kind of reactionary “third positions” could find a refuge. In the polarized environment of 1973-76, when the internal dynamics of liberation movements drove them to believe that a “popular liberation breakthrough” was imminent and, on the other hand, when the aggressive policy of the United States was pushing the armies of Latin American countries to take over power and launch a “security state” with total repression of all dissent, Assmann radicalized his critique; there was no space for third positions: those who were not with the one and only socialist revolution were against it. Dialogue, in this context, can easily prove confusing or useless-or both. 5 Moltmann, in his tum, interprets Assmann’s position as “[the announcement … that ‘incommunication’ was to take the place of dialogue with European theologians because they were Europeans …. “‘

3. More ironic-or perhaps more ambiguous-theologians like Gustavo Gutierrez (Theology of Liberation, 1971 ), Leonardo Boff (Jesus Cristo Libertador, 1972), Jon Sobrino (Christology at the Crossroads, 1976), or myself (Doing Theology in a Revolutionary Situation, 1975), although sometimes sharing some of Assmann’s questionings, found in Moltmann’s writings (by that time The Crudfied God was already published) some important insights which were worthy of careful consideration and discussion. It is in response to both the
rejection and the invitation to dialogue that Moltmann writes his Open Letter to me in 1976.

4. Slowly, in the years that follow, the occasions of encounter, discussion, and interface increased. In September 1977, invited by ISEDET (lnstituto Superior Evangelico deEstudios T eologicos) Moltmann offered lectures in Buenos Aires that are published in Spanish under the title, Temas para una teologia de la esperanza, with comments which Armando J. Levoratti and Jose Miguez Bonino offered in the occasion of the lectures.’ In the following month, October 1977, the “Comunidad Teologica de Mexico” organized a symposium with Moltmann’s participation together with James Cone (Black theology) of the USA, Sergio Martinez Arce of Cuba and several theologians from Central and South America. In a sense, this last meeting had something of the hardness of the Geneva symposium. “Moltmann,” comments Jean Pierre Bastian in his preface to the publication of the Latin American contributions to the debate, “has been an important teacher for many of us in Latin America, and the difficulty of communication and understanding with this spokesperson for the most progressive European church invited to a reflection on the theological production related to different Christian praxis.”’

Coincidences and Disagreements

Dios_crucificado_con_sangre_de_JuanR_MorenoAs I was looking back and re-read all this material, I had a strange feeling: it all looked so distant, so old-fashioned. We speak now a different language, pose different questions, have other expectations, struggle at different fronts. And yet, at another level, we move in the same history, face the same theological and social dilemmas, and carry some of the same burdens. Was there something fundamental at stake in the coincidences and the disagreements of Latin American and European theologians? Is there something to be learned in view of Christian thinking and praxis as we move into a new millennium? Can we trace some parallel, converging or divergent lines in the movement of Latin American Liberation Theology and the theological production of Professor Moltmann in the two decades between the 1970s and the 1990s?

— José Miguez Bonino, “Reading Jürgen Moltmann from Latin America” in The Asbury Theological Journal, Vol 55, No 1 (Spring): 2000. Full article found here.

1986 video digitised by

Paulo Freire: Exile, from Brazil to Bolivia, 1964

No one goes anywhere alone, least of all into exile – not even those who arrive physically alone, unaccompanied by family, spouse, children, parents, or siblings. No one leaves his or her world without having been transfixed by its roots, or with a vacuum for a soul. We carry with us the memory of many fabrics, a self soaked in our history, our culture; a memory, sometimes scattered, sometimes sharp and clear, of the streets of our childhood, of our adolescence; the reminiscence of something distant that suddenly stands out before us, in us, a shy gesture, an open hand, a smile lost in a time of misunderstanding, a sentence, a simple sentence possibly now forgotten by the one who said it. A word for so long a time attempted and never spoken, always stifled in inhibition, in the fear of being rejected – which, as it implies a lack of confidence in ourselves, also means refusal of risk.

We experience, of course, in the voyage we make, a tumult in our soul, a synthesis of contrasting feelings – the hope of immediate deliverance from the perils that surround us, relief at the absence of the inquisitor (either the brutal, offensive interrogator, or the tactically polite prosecutor to whose lips this “evil, dangerous subversive” will yield, it is thought, more easily), along with, for the extension of the tumult of and in the soul, a guilt-feeling at leaving one’s world, one’s soil, the scent of one’s soil, one’s folks. To the tumult in the soul belongs also the pain of the broken dream, utopia lost. The danger of losing hope. I have known exiles who began to buy a piece of furniture or two for their homes only after four or five years in exile. Their half-empty homes seemed to speak eloquently, of their loyalty to a distant land. In fact, their half-empty rooms not only seemed to wish to speak to them of their longing to return, but looked as if the movers had just paid a visit and they were actually moving back. The half-empty house lessened the sentiment of blame at having left the “old sod.” In this, perhaps, lies a certain need that I have so often perceived in persons exiled: the need to feel persecuted, to be constantly trailed by some secret agent who dogged their step and whom they alone ever saw. To know they were so dangerous gave them, on the one hand, the sensation of still being politically alive; and on the other, the sensation of a right to survive, through cautious measures. It diminished their guilt feelings.

Indeed, one of the serious problems of the man or woman in exile is how to wrestle, tooth and nail, with feelings, desire, reason, recall, accumulated knowledge, worldviews, with the tension between a today being lived in a reality on loan and a yesterday, in their context of origin, whose fundamental marks they come here charged with. At bottom, the problem is how to preserve one’s identity in the relationship between an indispensable occupation in the new context, and a preoccupation in which the original context has to be reconstituted. How to wrestle with the yearning without allowing it to turn into nostalgia. How to invent new ways of living, and living with others, thereby overcoming or redirecting an understandable tendency on the part of the exiled woman or man always to regard the context of origin (as it cannot be got rid of as a reference, at least not over the long haul) as better than the one on loan. Sometimes it is actually better; not always, however.

Basically, it is very difficult to experience exile, to live with all the different longings – for one’s town or city, one’s country, family, relatives, a certain corner, certain meals – to live with longing, and educate it too. The education of longing has to do with the transcendence of a naively excessive optimism, of the kind, for example, with which certain companions received me in October 1964 in La Paz: “You’re just in time to turn around. We’ll be home for Christmas.”

I had arrived there after a month or a little more than a month in the Bolivian embassy in Brazil, waiting for the Brazilian government to deign to send me the safe-conduct pass without which I should not be allowed to leave. Shortly before, I had been arrested, and subjected to long interrogations by military personnel who seemed to think that, in asking these questions of theirs, they were saving not only Brazil but the whole world. “We’ll be home for Christmas.”

“Which Christmas?” I asked, with curiosity, and even more surprise.

“This Christmas!” they answered, with unshakable certitude.

My first night in La Paz, not yet under the onslaughts of the altitude sickness that were to fall upon me the next day, I reflected a bit on the education of longing, which figures in Pedagogy of Hope. It would be terrible, I thought, to let the desire to return kill in us the critical view, and make us look at everything that happens back home in a favorable way – create in our head a reality that isn’t real.
freire12Exile is a difficult experience. Waiting for the letter that never comes because it has been lost, waiting for notice of a final decision that never arrives. Expecting sometimes that certain people will come, even going to the airport simply to “expect,” as if the verb were intransitive.

It is far more difficult to experience exile when we make no effort to adopt its space – time critically – accept it as an opportunity with which we have been presented. It is this critical ability to plunge into a new daily reality, without preconceptions, that brings the man or woman in exile to a more historical understanding of his or her own situation. It is one thing, then, to experience the everyday in the context of one’s origin, immersed in the habitual fabrics from which we can easily emerge to make our investigation, and something else again to experience the everyday in the loan context that calls on us not only to become able to grow attached to this new context, but also to take it as an object of our critical reflection, must more than we do our own from a point of departure in our own.

— Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Hope: Reliving Pedagogy of the Oppressed. 1992: p. 23-25

Zephania Kameeta: Romans 13 in Namibia 1971

kameeta-112A young fourth year seminarian sat quietly in his chair glancing at the clock. It was nearly 11. He raised his hand and asked the lecturer if the class could be excused to listen to the radio. Permission granted, the class hurried towards the radio.

It was 21 June 1971. A judge from Pakistan delivered his verdict in an hour-and-a-half broadcast. The judge overturned a 1950 International Court of Justice ruling that South Africa’s mandate in Namibia (once South-West Africa) was legal. Now, the court ruled, South Africa was illegally occupying the territory.

Excited, the seminarians returned to their class after the broadcast. A Finnish New Testament professor was lecturing on Romans 13: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God…”

The young theology student was Zephania Kameeta. And he remembered later:

The broadcast raised our hopes so much. After that we accidentally had the New Testament lecture. No, maybe the Lord himself asked the professor on that day to discuss that particular passage.

All authority has been given by God. And you know in South Africa and Namibia this text is the basis of racial separateness — apartheid — and I don’t believe in it. Apartheid is not based on a political ideology, but it is based on religion. And this text is one that is being used in South Africa to justify apartheid. Those who are fighting against that, those who are saying things against that — they must be communists or Marxists. That’s the attitude.

After we discussed Romans 13, following the World Court decision, we started for the first time to look at the text within the context of this Southern African situation. And we asked our professor within the context of what we heard a few minutes before what he thought was the rule for the church in this kind of situation. Because we read this text (v. 3) where it suggests that authorities are entitled to punish those who are doing wrong and reward those who are doing good.

But our experience up to that day in Namibia was that the authority was there to punish those who are doing good and to praise those who are doing wrong. And we asked: What’s the responsibility of the church in this kind of situation? Has the church anything to say? Should the church only be concerned about what is to come? Or should the church be the first-taste of the kingdom of God? Should the church keep quiet in view of the suffering of the people, in view of injustice?

The professor heard the explosion of questions, paused, and then said: “I believe the church has something to say, but I don’t know precisely what at this moment.”

The students, more excited now, said they’d give the lecturer a chance to think about that point. But they said they’d boycott classes if the church didn’t have anything to say.

Kameeta says it was at that moment that the theology students saw clearly that there was no point in being trained “to serve an organization that will be silent in the face of the suffering of their people”.

The students stayed out of class for a whole day. It was the first time there had been anything like a boycott. The next day one of the lecturers met with the students and said, “I’d like to ask you a question: Who then is the church? Is it the lecturers? And if it isn’t us — if we’re not doing or saying anything — they why are you not acting? Why aren’t you doing anything?”

The provocative question startled the students. After a brief discussion they decided to draft an open letter to South African Prime Minister B.J. Vorster. The church boards of the two large Lutheran churches in Namibia were meeting at that time. They read the students’ letter and decided to accept it. On 30 June 1971, the leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Ovambokavango Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia/SWA sent the open letter.

In deferential but firm language the letter said the South African government “failed to take cognizance of Human Rights as declared by the UN”. The letter demonstrated a growing consciousness and consensus among the country’s overwhelming black majority. Writer Heinz Hunke in his book, Namibia: The Strength of the Powerless, has said: “No other single document has ever had such an immediate and lasting influence in Namibia as this letter. The black population recognized that their feelings were being expressed by their church leaders…. From now on the neat network of lies and propaganda would be destroyed again and again by the unintimidated denouncements of church leaders who belonged to the oppressed majority.”

— from “Introduction”, Roger Kahle, in Zephania Kameeta’s Why, O Lord? Psalms and sermons from Namibia (1986)

James Cone: Encounter with Korean Theology in 1975


James Cone: Encounter with Korean Theology in 1975

“Since Minjung theology is strongly influenced by the social biography of the Minjung, it is perhaps appropriate for me to give a brief personal account of my encounter with the people who are creating this theology. In May 1975, I was invited by the Korean Christian church in Japan to lead a series of seminars on the theme of “the Church struggling for the liberation of the people.” I had never been to Japan or Korea, nor any other Asian land. Furthermore, my reading knowledge of Asian history generally and Korean history in particular were almost nil. The only preparation I had was the little reading I did immediately before my departure and a few conversations I had with people regarding the political and social situation of Koreans in Japan. I did not know what to expect, and I kept asking myself why Koreans wanted a black theologian, who knew so little about their social history, to lead their seminars. What did black theology have to say to Koreans in Japan or Asians anywhere?

The cultural shock that I experienced upon my arrival in Japan is very difficult to describe. Although I had been to Africa and Latin America, neither prepared me for Asia. For the first time I was in a completely different culture, unlike Africa which I could connect with my blackness and unlike Latin America which I could connect with my western identity. After only a short time on the continent of Asia, I realized that my theological perspective would be altered significantly. While I did not know what I would change or how I would change it (I needed more time to absorb and to reflect), yet I knew that the change would relate to christology and the need to enlarge my perspective beyond its narrow western orientation. In Asia Christianity is a minority religion, and western languages are not the primary means of communication. It is one thing to read about other religions in books and quite another to experience their powerful presence first-hand on the continent of Asia. What could I say to Koreans about the gospel when I knew neither their language nor much about their social situation in Japan? I felt that I had little to say to them, and they had much to say to me. However, Koreans insisted that I tell the black story of liberation in North America as defined by the black church tradition. They told me the Korean story of enslavement by the Japanese and their struggle to reclaim their humanity. We then compared our stories, identifying the similarities and differences. Through the telling of our stories, we came to know and to love each other. It was an experience that I will never forget. I preached in Korean churches, ate in their homes; we laughed and told stories about our families, and I was transformed by the experience of being accepted by a people who knew so little about me and I about them. I began to realize much more clearly than before that God’s liberating presence is found not only in the black liberation struggle but among all people who are fighting for freedom.

It was within the context of the Korean Christian community in Japan that I first heard about a new theology emerging from the history and culture of Korean people. The most surprising thing that happened during my visit was the Korean people’s understanding and affirmation of my view of black theology. Before leaving home, I had been told by white Americans of the “conservative” nature of Korean Christianity and that my emphasis on liberation would be utterly rejected. Nothing could have been further from the truth. To be sure, I had to separate my view of liberation from the communists’ use of the term in North Korea, but that only took a few minutes of talking about the black story of liberation as defined by our songs, prayers, and sermons. When I told them about our “blues,” they told me about their “han.” When I told Koreans that my nineteenth-century slave grandparents sang spiritual songs about the exodus of Hebrew slaves from Egypt, identifying themselves with the Hebrew slaves and white slaveholders with the Egyptians, Koreans smiled and then shared with me their “slave” songs about the exodus that they created during their servitude under the Japanese in the twentieth century. The similarities between Korean and black experiences of oppression and liberation astounded me. Later, when I preached at a Korean church on the theme “God the Liberator,” I head them singing a song in Korean whose melody sounded very familiar to me. When I asked my interpreter the name of the song, he said, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” “Do the people know that that is a black spiritual?!” I asked. He gave a negative answer. Here we were engaged in a profound cultural exchange and did not even know it. The Korean people’s acceptance of the black experience created an openness in me to accept their history and culture.

The only rejection that I experience in Japan came from white missionaries and affluent Japanese Christians. Both groups claimed that there was no such thing as black theology and Korean theology. Christian theology, they contended, refers to the wrritings of Barth, Brunner, and Bultmann. I always knew when I was speaking to a Japanese audience, even though I could detect no physical differences between them and Koreans. The difference had to do with their attitude toward me and Koreans which was always arrogant and condescending. My experience with whites in the United States prepared me well for the Japanese, and white missionaries in Japan helped to insure that I would not forget racism’s true nature. The more white missionaries and Japanese Christians rejected black and Korean theologies, the more I and Koreans were determined to make theological sense out of our liberation struggles.

I was attracted to Korean theology because I liked Korean people. Like blacks, they had a history of suffering and had developed a culture that enabled them not to be determined by it. Like blacks, Koreans are a passionate people. They cry and laugh. They feel life at its depths and refuse to define reality in primarily rational terms.

I was also impressed by Korean lay people’s ability to think theologically. Unlike some of their pastors who had been influenced too much by their study of and with Japanese and white theologians, Korean lay people use their common sense in their exegesis of the scripture. They read the Bible as a series of stories about what God has done to protect the little ones in extreme situations of oppression. They related the biblical stories to the Korean story of oppression under the Japanese and concluded that the God of Moses and of Jesus was present with them, sustaining them in their struggle to keep their identity.

Listening to Korean lay people tell their stories of struggle reminded me of how black theology was created. It did not start among professional black theologians who were teaching in seminaries and universities. Like whites, most professional black theologians rejected the very idea of a black theology until they realized that it would help secure their teaching posts in white seminaries and universities. Black theology began in the context of the civil rights and black power movements, largely defined by the ministries of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. It was during my participating in the black liberation struggle, in dialogue with laity and clergy, that the idea of a black theology became clear to me. I concluded that black theology had to be a theology of black people who were struggling to make sense of the gospel in their fight for freedom. Were not Koreans making the same point in their affirmations of the need for a unique Korean theology?

After nearly three weeks with Koreans in Japan, I took a flight to Seoul, Korea. In Seoul, I met many of the writers in their volume. Suh Kwang-sun David invited me to Korea, and Hyun Young-hak met me at the airport and served as my interpreter during my stay. Both introduced me to other Korean theologians and informed me of their struggle for democracy and human rights. The infamous “Presidential Emergency Measure No. 9” had just been issued (May 13, 1975), which allowed the police to arrest and imprison any person who criticized the Park regime. I met several persons who had been dismissed from their teaching posts in the universities, many of whom were later imprisoned.1980-KoreaKwanjuUprisingMartialLaw-04

Since the universities had only been recently opened, my sponsors thought it wise not to hold my lecture in that context. I thought it best not to lecture at all because of the risks involved. Furthermore, what could I say to Koreans in a situation of political repression. I knew even less about Koreans in their own country than about Koreans in Japan. But despite the political risks and my lack of knowledge, everyone insisted that I speak. The lecture was held at the YMCA, and nearly half the audience were KCIA agents. Terribly anxious about the political dangers, especially for Koreans attending the lecture, I decided to lecture on the theme of “God the Liberator as Found in the Black Slave Songs in North America.” Apparently the KCIA angents did not detect the double meanings in the spiritual and in my message, because no one was arrested. No questions were permitted following the lecture, and we closed with the singing of “We Shall Overcome.”

I remained in South Korea for nearly a week, listening to many of the writers in this volume discuss Korean theology. Since I did not know much about Korean history and culture, I found it difficult to understand much of what they were advocating. The ethos of political repression was so dominant that they often found themselves speaking to each other in their own language, of which I understood nothing. They kept apologizing to me, but I tried to assure them that I was not troubled by not being able to understand. On one occasion given my honor, one professor present had just received his “retirement” notice, and much of the time was spent “being with him,” and other professors discussed when they too would receive their notice or be taken to prison.

It was in the context of Korean Christians’ struggle for democracy and human rights that I first head them speak about a new Korean theology. Although I had heard Koreans in Japan talk in a similar fashion, it was among Koreans in their own country where I saw an outline of it begin to be developed. They kept emphasizing the idea of “people as the subject of history,” but not in a Marxist definition of the proletariat or of history. My western education had not prepared me for the creative insights of Korean theologians. But the black experience of oppression helped me to be open to new and unfamiliar voices. Korean theologians were patient with my slow understanding and assured me that I was making progress. My difficult was with the language and the terms they used to express their theology. It was easy to associate the idea of the “people” with the “proletariat,” but they assured me that what they meant by “people” could not be reduced to the Marxist idea of the working class. What they mean by people cannot be translated into English, they claimed. In Korean the word has a complex meaning that can only be understood in the context of Korean history and culture. I left South Korean with the determination to learn more about the history and culture that was giving birth to a new theology.”

James H. Cone, “preface”, in Minjung Theology: People as the Subjects of History, Edited by the Commission on Theological Concerns of the Christian Conference of Asia, p. x-xiv

TIMELINE: 1950s Liberation Theology Writings and Relevant Works



  • Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Humani Generis


  • Vladimir Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House
  • Frantz Fanon, Peau noire, masques blancs, Paris








  • Ivan Illich, Puerto Ricans: Not Foreigners, Yet Foreign in Commonweal: “From 1951 to 1956 I lived as a priest in Incarnation Parish on the West Side of New York’s Manhattan. Puerto Ricans were then being crowded into the walk-ups between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway.”


  • Jean-Yves Calvez, La pensée de Karl Marx, in Paris, republished in 1970



  • Manslaughter documentary by WA MP Bill Grayden with Ps. Doug Nicholls, airs on Sydney and Melbourne television in May. “While many saw the film as proving Aboriginal poverty and suffering existed, others thought it was highly selective and misleading. Importantly, it did not present the views of the Yarnangu people about their own lives or about their being filmed in this way. Pam McGrath and David Brooks point out that Yarnagu both then and since have sought to stress their own angecy and choices rather than the film’s portrayal of them as victims of government neglect; many Yarnangu also see the film as a gross invasion of privacy. Nevertheless, the film was significant in mobilizing support for demands for Aboriginal rights, and played a role the formation of the Victorian Aborigines Advancement League and, indirectly, in the formation a year later of the Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement.” [Curthoys, 1974-5, in Passionate Histories]
  • Victorian Aborigines Advancement League 1957, Analysis of Mr Rupert Murdoch’s article […], Melbourne: 2-3, as quoted in Attwood 2003: 150 […] on Manslaughter, film about Warburton atomic tests, cf. notes on 1960 by Curthoys.



TIMELINE: 1960s Liberation Theology Writings and Relevant Works



  • Albert Geyser, gives a scathing critique of apartheid and its theological justification – exemplified in A.B. du Preez “Eiesoortige Ontwikkeling tot Volksdiens” – in the NHK journal Hervormde Teologiese Studies.
  • Albert Geyser, Vertraagde aksie (Delayed Action), condemning apartheid.



  • Edmundo O’Gorman, The Invention of the Americas, Indiana University Press, first to reflect on 1492 as the invention of America.


  • Frantz Fanon, Les Demnés de la Terre
    (relevant to Americas (see Martinique, and Africa (see Algeria), and global colonialism)


  • T.G.H. Stehlow, Nomads in No-Man’s Land. Adelaide: Aborigines Advancement League.



  • Albert Lutuli, Let My People Go: “I warn those who care for Christianity, who care to go to all the world and preach the Gospel. In South Africa the opportunity is 300 years old. It will not last forever. The time is running out.” [p. 19, qtd in Walshe, The Evolution of Liberation Theology in South Africa
  • Pro Veritate. ecumenical and anti-apartheid journal.


  • Juan Luis Segundo, Función de la Iglesia en la Realidad Rioplatense.
  • Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Prophets
  • G.E. Mendenhall, The Hebrew Conquest of Palestine, in Biblical Archaeologist 25:66-87
  • Austin Farrer, Love Almighty and Ill Unlimited, Fontana Library of Theology and Philosophy, Collins Fontana 1966. “Sensitive discussion of the issues raised for theodicy by animal pain. Contains his famous line: ‘It must never be forgotten that God is the God of hawks no less than of sparrows, of microbes not less than of men’ (pp. 104-5)” (Linzey).



  • Juan Luis Segundo, The Future of Christianity in Latin America.


  • Paul Gauthier, Les Pauvres Jésus et l’Eglise (Ed. Universitaires, Paris).



  • A series of articles by Prof. Adriaan Pont appear in Die Hervormer, the NHK monthly magazine, accusing Geyser and Naudé of advocating: communism, sabotage, revolution, massacres of white women and children, heresy, opposition to the Afrikaaner churches, the destruction of Christianity while pretending to be Christians.


  • L’Arche community founded by Jean Vanier in Canada.



  • We Won’t Keep Silence Any Longer: Women Speak Out to Vatican Council II.


  • Bolaji Idowu, Towards An Indigenous Church


  • Ahn Byung Mu presents dissertation in Heidelberg after studying alongside Gunther Bornkamm since 1956.



  • Gustavo Gutierrez, Christian Charity and Love, his first published book.


  • Roger Garaudy, From Anathema to Dialogue, English edition



  • Paul VI’s encyclical Populorum progressio


  • Paulo Freire, Educaçáo como Práctica da Liberdade, Rio de Janeiro
  • José Míguez Bonino, La fe en busca de eficacia
  • Rosemary Radford-Ruether, The Church Against Itself
  • Ivan Illich, a manifesto named A Call to Celebration, “enunciated by and reflecting the mood of a group of friends” including Robert Fox and Robert Theobald, during the March on the Pentagon.


  • Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope: On the Ground and the Implications for a Christian Eschatology, London: SCM.
  • Dorothee Sölle, Christ the Representative: An Essay in Theology After the ‘Death of God’



  • Mary Daly, The Church and the Second Sex
  • Ivan Illich, Violence: A Mirror for Americans, first published in America, 27thApril, on the “fear that the end of the war in Vietnam would permit the hawks and doves to unite in a destructive war on poverty in the Third World.”
  • T. Ogletree (ed) Openings for Marxist-Christian Dialogue, Nashville


  • Johannes Baptiste-Metz, Poverty of Spirit



  • John Mbiti, African Religions and Philosophy


  • Paulo Freire, Extensión y Comunicacion, Santiago de Chile
  • Rubem Alves, Religion: Opium of the People or Instrument of Liberation.
  • James H Cone, Black Theology and Black Power
  • Vine Deloria, Jr., Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto


  • Jurgen Moltmann, Religion, Revolution and Future
  • Ans Joachim van der Bent, The Christian Marxist Dialogue: 1959-1969, in Geneva.

TIMELINE: 1970s Liberation Theology Writings and Relevant Works



  • John Mbiti, Concepts of God in Africa


  • Eduardo Galeano, Las Venas Abiertas de América Latina (The Open Veins of Latin America), written”in three months, in the last ninety nights of 1970, while he worked during the day in the university” (Isabel Allende, intro to 25th Anniversary edition).
  • Juan Luis Segundo, De la sociedad a la teología
  • Lucio Gera, Apuntes para una interpretación de le Iglesia argentina
  • Germán Guzmán C., La rebeldía clerical en América Latina, in “Revista Mexicana de Sociología, Vol. 32, No. 2, Memorias del IX Congresso Latinoamericano de Sociología, 3 (March-April).
  • James H. Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation
  • James H. Cone, Black Theology on revolution, violence and reconciliation, in “Dialog”, Vol 12 (Spring)
  • Daniel Berrigan and Thomas Lewis, Trial Poems: A Poet, A Painter – A Facsimile Edition of Their Prison Art, on 1 Jan.
  • Herbert Aptheker, The Urgency of Marxist-Christian Dialogue
  • Walter Brueggemann, The Triumphalist Tendency in Exegetical History
  • John Cobb Jr. & Charles Birch, From Cell to Community: The Liberation of Life?, CUP – process creation theology.


  • Dorothee Sölle, Beyond Mere Obedience: Reflections on a Christian Ethic for the Future
  • Helmut Gollwitzer, The Christian Faith and Marxist Criticism of Religion. Gollwitzer was a well known member of the Confessing Church, originally studying under Karl Barth at Basel and serving as pastor at Berlin-Dahlem after the arrest of Martin Niemöller.
  • Church of England Board for Social Responsibility Working Party, Church Information Office, Man in His Living Environment: An Ethical Assessment, “One of the very few church reports to stand the test of time.” (Linzey).
  • Teilhard de Chardin, Hymn of the Universe, ET by N.M. Wildiers, Collins Fontana edn.



John Mbiti, New Testament Eschatology in an African Background


  • José Porfirio Miranda, Marx y la biblia, Critica a la filosofia de la oppression, Salamanca: Ediciones Sígueme. TRA: 1974
  • John Gerassi (ed), Revolutionary Priest: The Complete Writings & Messages of Camilo Torres
  • J. Deotis Roberts, Liberation and Reconciliation: A Black Theology
  • Gustavo Gutierrez, Teología de la Liberación
  • Hugo Assmann, Opresión-Liberación: Desafio a los Cristianos.
  • Severino Croatto, ‘Liberacion y libertad. Reflexiones hermeneúticas en torno al Antiguo Testamento’ Revista Biblica 32. Later published under short title in ’73.
  • Mary Daly, article, The Spiritual Dimension of Women’s Liberation in Notes from the Third Year: Women’s Liberation
  • Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society
  • Robert Coles and Daniel Berrigan, Geography of Faith: Conversation Between Daniel Berrigan, When Underground, and Robert Coles
  • Anne E. Carr, The Theological Method of Karl Rahner, dissertation at University of Chicago.


  • Philip Land (ed.), Theology Meets Progress: Human Implication of Development, Rome: Gregorian University Press. INCLUDES: Josef Fuchs,Moral Aspects of Human Progress.



  • Leonardo Boff, Jesus Christ Liberator.
  • Alceu Amoroso Lima, Testimony: on the influence of Maritain in Latin America, in NEW SCHOLASTICISM vol. 46
  • Luis Rivera-Pagán, write the chapters “Teología y praxis de liberación” and“Aportes del Marxismo” in Pueblo oprimido, señor de la historia. Montevideo: Tierra Nueva.
  • Rosemary Radford-Ruether, Liberation Theology
  • James H Cone, The Spirituals and the Blues: An Interpretation
  • James Cone/Hugo Assmann/Paulo Freire/Eduardo I Bodipo-Malumba, A symposium on Black Theology and Latin American Theology of Liberation.
  • Mary Daly, article, A Call for the Castration of Sexist Religion in The Unitarian Universalist Christian 27
  • John Cobb Jr., Is It Too Late? A Theology of Ecology, Bruce Publishing, California.
  • Daniel Berrigan, American is Hard to Find


  • Sebastian Kappen, Vswäsathilninnu Viplavathilèkku (in Malayalam, English: From Faith to Revolution)


  • Ernst Bloch, Atheism in Christianity: The Religion of the Exodus and of the Kingdom, trans. J.T. Swann.



Bolji Idowu, African Traditional Religion: A Definition


  • TRANSLATED: Gustavo Gutierrez, Theology of Liberation, translated by Sister Caridad Inda & John Eagleson
  • TRANSLATED: Gustavo Gutierrez, Theologie der Befreiung, translated by Horst Goldstein with a forward by Johann Baptist Metz.
  • Lucio Gera, Teologio de la liberación
  • Ignacio Ellacuría, Liberación: Misión y Carisma de la Iglesia
  • Hugo Assmann, Theology for a Nomad Church, New York: Orbis, 1976.
  • Enrique Dussel, Para una ética de la liberación latinoamericano (Buenos Aires).
  • Vine Deloria, Jr., God is Red
  • Mary Daly, Beyond God the Father
  • Ivan Illich, Tools for Conviviality
  • Phyllis Trible, Depatriarchalizing in Biblical Interpretation
  • Idris Hamid (ed.) Troubling the Waters, Trinidad: Rahaman Printer Ltd. INCLUDES: Ashley Smith, “The religious significance of Black Power in Caribbean churches”, Joseph Owens, “Rastafarians of Jamaica”, etc.


  • Jurgen Moltmann, The Gospel of Liberation
  • Jurgen Moltmann, The Crucified God
  • Johannes Baptist-Metz, Theology of the World
  • Vitézlav Gardavsky, God Is Not Yet Dead, English edition


  • G. Serle, From Deserts the Prophets Come: The Creative Spirit in Australia 1788-1972, Melbourne: Heinemann



  • Robert McAfee Brown, “Christian Institute of Southern Africa vs the state of South Africa.” Journal of Ecumenical Studies 11:99-102
  • David J. Bosch, Currents and Crosscurrents in South African Black Theology, in Journal of Religion in Africa, Vol 6, Fasc 1


  • TRANSLATED: Paulo Freire, Education: The Practice of Freedom
  • José Porfirio Miranda, Marx and the Bible: A Critique of the Philosophy of Oppression, Maryknoll
  • Ignacio Martín-Baró, Elementos de Conscientización socio-politica en los curricula de las universidades
  • Margaret Todaro Williams, The Politicization of the Brazilian Catholic Church: The Catholic Electoral League, in Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, Vol 16, No 3, August. Focusing on the 1930s, with discussion of Amoroso Lima
  • Eul-Soo Pang, The Changing Roles of Priests in the Politics of Northeast Brazil, 1889-1964, in “The Americas”, Vol. 30, No. 3, January
  • Rosemary Radford-Ruether, Faith and Fratricide: The Theological Roots of Anti-semitism
  • Mary Daly, article, God is a Verb in MS
  • Daniel Berrigan, Lights on in the house of the dead, in 1 March.
  • N. Piediscalzi and R.G. Thobaben (eds), From Hope to Liberation: Towards a New Marxist-Christian Dialogue, Philadelphia


  • Kosuke Koyama, Waterbuffalo Theology (Orbis)


  • Dorothee Sölle, Political Theology
  • Claus Westerman, Creation, SPCK. “One of the first more eco-friendly readings of Genesis departing from a purely instrumentalist view of creation.” (Linzey)



  • Catholic feminist theology was connected with the early years of the journal Concilium that explored the theme of “women in the Church” in a special issue in 1975, edited by the Catholic ecumenist Gregory Baum. Ten years later Concilium created a special section for feminist theology.” (Faggioli, Vatican II: The Battle for Meaning.


  • John Mbiti, The Prayers of African Religion


  • Jose Miguez Bonino, Doing Theology in a Revolutionary Situation, Philadelphia
  • Juan Luis Segundo, Liberación de la teología
  • Ignacio Ellacuría, Hacia una Fundamentación del Método Teológico Latinoamericana
  • Gozalo Arroyo, Nota Sobre la Iglesia y Los Cristianos de Izquierda a la Hora del Putsch en Chile, in “Latin American Perspectives”, Vo. 2, No. 1 (Spring)
  • Jon Sobrino: “He got his Doctorate in theology in 1975, in Hochschule Sankt Georgen Frankfurt (Germany), his thesis being Significado de la Cruz y resurrección de Jesús en las cristologías sistematícas de W. Pannenberg y J. Moltmann” – Vera Invanise Bombonatto, in EATWOT’s “Taking the Poor down from the Cross” p. 36
  • James H Cone, God of the Oppressed
  • Anne E. Carr, “The Church in Process: Engendering the Future” – Women and Catholic Priesthood. Given as a talk at Women’s Ordination Conference in Detroit.


  • Dorothee Sölle, Suffering
  • Nikolai Berdyaev, Christianisme, marxisme, Conception chrétienne et conception marxiste de l’histoire, in Paris


  • B. Wongar, The Trackers, Collingwood, Victoria: Outback. The first of a series of books, quoted in R. Boer’s Last Stop Before Antarctica.



  • The Gospel of Peace and Justice: Catholic Social Teaching since Pope John, edited by Joseph Gremillion (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis).


  • Allan Boesak, Farewell to Innocence: A Socio-Ethical Study on Black Theology and Black Power, a doctoral dissertation.
  • Ewane Kange, La politique dans le système religieux catholique romain en Afrique de 1815 à 1960, (Lille: Atelier Réproduction de Thèses, Univ. Lille III; distribution, H. Campion).


  • José Míguez Bonino, Christians and Marxists: The Mutual Challenge to Revolution, London.
  • Juan Luis Segundo, The Liberation of Theology, New York: Orbis.
  • Matthew Lamb, “The theory-praxis relationship in contemporary Christian theologies”, Catholic Theological Society of America Proceedings 31


  • Asian Voices in Theology (Orbis).
  • Jung Young Lee, What Asian Christians Me Thinking, (New Day Pub). Author of “The Yin-Yang Way of Thinking: A Possible Method for Ecumenical Theology”


  • Milan Machovec, A Marxist Looks at Jesus, English edition.



Théologies du tiers-monde: Du conformisme à l’independance (Paris: Harmattan), in English see The Emergent Gospel (Orbis 1978).


  • Kwesi Dickson, The Human Dimension in the Theological Quest
  • N. Kabinga, “Implications de la actuelles du basin conventionnel du Congo, de 1885 à 1965: Cas du Congo Belge,” III Cycle dissertation, Strasbourg, defended November 26, 1977.
  • Americas:


  • Ignacio Martín-Baró writes a thesis on “Social Attitudes and Group Conflict in El Salvador” at University of Chicago.
  • Leonardo Boff, Paixao de Cristo—Paixao do Mundo, Petropolis: Editori Vozes.
  • Kortright Davis, Moving Into Freedom, Barbados: Cedar Press.
  • Walter Brueggemann, The Land: Place as Gift, Promise, and Challenge in Biblical Faith
  • Daniel Berrigan, A Book of Parables, in May
  • John C. Haughey (ed.), The Faith That Does Justice: Examining the Christian Sources for Social Change. INCLUDES: John R. Donahue, Biblical Perspectives on Justice ; Avery Dulles, The Meaning of Faith Considered in Relationship to Justice ; John C. Haughey, Jesus as the Justice of God


  • Marciano Vidal Garcia, Teología de la Liberación y etica social Cristiana: Interrogantes sobre el método de la Teología moral, in “Studia Moralia” 15: 207-218
  • Peter Hebblethwaite, The Christian-Marxist Dialogue: beginnings, present status, and beyond, in London/NY.
  • Stephen R.L. Clark, The Moral Status of Animals, Clarendon Press.



  • Enrique Dussel, Discernment: A Question of Orthodoxy or Orthopraxis? InConcilium 119: 47-60
  • TRANSLATED: Enrique Dussel, Teologia de la liberación y etica as “Ethics and the Theology of Liberation, by Bernard F. McWilliams, Maryknoll: Orbis. Originally delivered as lectures at a course organized by the Justice and Peace Study Center, Buenos Aires in 1972.
  • Clodovis Boff, Teología e prática: Teología do politico e suas mediaçoes. Petropolis: Editora Vozes.
  • Edward Said, Orientalism
  • Mary Daly, Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism
  • Marc H Ellis, A Year at the Catholic Worker, his first work, written between 1974-1975
  • Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination
  • Daniel Berrigan, Besides the Sea of Glass: Song of the Lamb, in Oct
  • Dennis McCann, Reinhold Niebuhr and Jacques Maritain on Marxism: A Comparison of Two Traditional Models of Practical Theology, in The Journal of Religion, Vo. 58, No. 2 (April)
  • David Ehrenfeld, The Arrogance of Humanism, OUP, New York: “A powerful critique by an environmental biologist of humanist attempts to protect the environment” (Linzey)


  • Francisco F. Claver, The Stones Will Cry Out.


  • Johannes Baptist-Metz, Followers of Christ: Religious Life and the Church
  • Dorothee Sölle, Death by Bread Alone: Texts and Reflections on Religious Experience
  • Jan Milíč Lochman, Encountering Marx: Bonds and Barriers between Christians and Marxists, Philadelphia.
  • Giorgio Girardet, Il Vangelo della liberazione: letture politica di Luca. TRANSLATED: Lecture politique de l’Evangile de Luc, preface by Françouis Houtart



  • Kofi Appiah-Kubi and Sergio Torres, African Theology en Route (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis).


  • Elsa Tamez, La Biblia de los oprimidos, DEI: San Jose.
  • Norman Gottwald, The Tribes of Yahweh: A Sociology of the Religion of Liberated Israel 1250-1050 B.C.E., Maryknoll, NY: Orbis
  • John L Topel, The Way of Peace: Liberation through the Bible. Maryknoll: Orbis
  • Walter Brueggemann, Trajectories in Old Testament Literature and the Sociology of Ancient Israel


  • Choan-Seng Song, Third Eye Theology (Orbis).
  • Tissa Balasuriya, The Eucharist and Human Liberation, (Orbis)


  • Johannes Baptist-Metz, Meditation on the Passion: Two Meditations on Mark 8:31-38
  • Karl Rahner, “Towards a Fundamental Theological Interpretation of Vatican II”, Theological Studies 40: 716-727


  • Mudrooroo Narogin Nyoongah (C. Johnson), Wild Cat Falling, Sydney: Angus & Robertson

HISTORY: Enrique Dussel, Exodus as a Paradigm in Liberation Theology


3. The First Semantic Shift: From the ‘Individual’ to the ‘Poor’ Church

In what was still the prehistory of liberation theology, in the 1950s, many people went through the spiritual experience of a radical demand for poverty. Examples are Charles de Foucauld, A Franciscan renewal in various areas of the Church, the presence of French worker priests in the refugee camps during the second world war. I myself was with Paul Gauthier in Nazareth between 1959 and 1961. At the beginning of the Second Vatican Council Mgr Hakim, the bishop of Nazareth, Mgr Hammer of Tournai and others, including Helder Camara, launched through the Nazareth team the idea of the ‘Church of the poor’, which Pope John XXIII took up personally. It was a personal, individual requirement of poverty, accepted by people from the pope and cardinals down to bishops, priests, religious and lay activists. The archbishop of Medellin left…

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HISTORY: C. & L. Boff, A Concise History of Liberation Theology



The historical roots of liberation theology are to be found in the prophetic tradition of evangelists and missionaries from the earliest colonial days in Latin America — churchmen who questioned the type of presence adopted by the church and the way indigenous peoples, blacks, mestizos, and the poor rural and urban masses were treated. The names of Bartolomé de Las Casas, Antonio de Montesinos, Antonio Vieira, Brother Caneca and others can stand for a whole host of religious personalities who have graced every century of our short history. They we the source of the type of social and ecclesial understanding that is emerging today.

Social and Political Development

The populist governments of the 1950s and 1960s — especially those of Perón in Argentina, Vargas in Brazil, and Cárdenas in Mexico — inspired nationalistic consciousness and significant industrial development in the shape of import substitution. This benefited the middle classes…

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