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The Imperative of Hope: Recovering the Prophetic in Christian Life Today – A Conversation with Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez

One evening I had the privilege of listening to the founder of liberation Theology Fr.Gustavo Gutierrez OP at a jam packed Fordham University hall in New York. Theologian Michael E. Lee started the conversation by way of asking questions: Among various theologies, why Liberation theology is standing out? Fr. Gutierrez responded “Liberation theology is a tool, its central point is the place of the least and the last person in Christianity. If we take the Bible, the poor is always important”.
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, liberation theology involves liberation from selfishness and sin, a re-establishment of a relationship with God and with other people.

Talking about preferential option for the poor which is the heart of liberation Theology, he pounded on the table and said “it is a decision, not optional like some people think. The theological reason for preferential option is the universality of the love of God, therefore it is not private to Christians, it is a Theo- centric option”.
There were questions from the audience regarding his relationship with Pope Francis. He compared Pope Francis with John XXIII, ‘they both have the love for the poor “this is the moment”. He said he is invited to Rome by Pope Francis. Final question “your advice to the young Theologians?” he answered “Liberation theology was not born in the Theological Institutions” the main concern is not Liberation Theology but life and future of our people, especially he mentioned the Indigenous people of Peru. Liberation Theology is helping to wake up the conscience of the people.

 

Fr. Gustavo was awarded with the presidential medal, 30th in the 174 year history of Fordham University. The president of Fordham said “we have a living saint with us today in line with St.Thomas Aquinas”. He was given a standing ovation by an enthused audience.
Celine Paramunda MMS