More Gutiérrez

Some other passages I’ve liked from A Theology of Liberation:

In Christian circles there was — and continues to be — difficulty in perceiving the originality and specificity of the political sphere.  Stress was placed on private life and on the cultivation of private values; things political were relegated to a lower plane , to the elusive and undemanding area of a misunderstood “common good.”  At most, this viewpoint provided a basis for “social pastoral planning,” grounded on the “social emotion” which every self-respecting Christian ought to experience.  Hence there developed the complacency with a very general and “humanizing” vision of reality, to the detriment of a scientific and structural knowledge of socio-economic mechanisms and historical dynamics.  Hence also there came the insistence on the personal and conciliatory aspects of the Gospel message rather than on its political and conflictual dimensions.  We must take a new look at Christian life; we must see how these emphases in the past have conditioned and challenged the historical presence of the Church.  This presence has an inescapable political dimension.


The very radicalness and totality of the salvific process require this relationship [to political liberation].  Nothing escapes this process, nothing is outside the pale of the action of Christ and the gift of the Spirit…  Those who reduce the work of salvation are indeed those who limit it to the strictly “religious” sphere and are not aware of the universality of the process.  It is those who think that the work of Christ touches the social order in which we live only indirectly or tangentially, and not in its roots and basic structure.  It is those who in order to protect salvation (or to protect their interests) lift salvation from the midst of history, where individuals and social classes struggle to liberate themselves from the slavery and oppression to which other individuals and social classes have subjected them.  It is those who refuse to see that the salvation of Christ is a radical liberation from all misery, all despoliation, all alienation.  It is those who by trying to  “save” the work of Christ will “lose” it.


To despise one’s neighbor (Prov. 14:21), to exploit the humble and poor worker, and to delay the payment of wages, is to offend God…  The God of Biblical revelation is known through interhuman justice…  This encounter with God in concrete actions toward others, especially the poor, is so profound and enriching that by basing themselves on it the prophets can criticize — always validly — all purely external worship…  God wants justice, not sacrifices.


Our conversion process is affected by the socio-economic, political, cultural, and human environment in which it occurs  Without a change in these structures, there is no authentic conversion.  We have to break with our mental categories, with the way we relate to others, with our way of identifying with the Lord, with our cultural milieu, with our social class, in other words, with all that can stand in the way of a real, profound solidarity with those who suffer, in the first place, from misery and injustice.  Only thus, and not through purely interior and spiritual attitudes, will the “new person” arise from the ashes of the “old.”

Christians have not done enough in this area of conversion to the neighbor, to social justice, to history.  They have not perceived clearly enough yet that to know God is to do justice.  They still do not live in one sole action with both God and all [people].  They still do not situate themselves in Christ without attempting to avoid concrete human history.  They have yet to tread the path which will lead them to seek effectively the peace of the Lord in the heart of social struggle.



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