Spiritual Hero: Gustavo Gutiérrez

Gustavo Gutiérrez (1928 – ) is a Roman Catholic theologian and Dominican priest who is considered the father of liberation theology, which emphasizes a Christian duty to aid the poor and oppressed through involvement in civic and political affairs.

The author of numerous books and articles, Gutiérrez is perhaps best known for his Teología de la liberación (1971; A Theology of Liberation), the foundational text of liberation theology.

In that work, Gutiérrez developed a new spirituality based on solidarity with the poor and called on the church to help change existing social and economic institutions to promote social justice.  Although liberation theology had great impact, especially in Latin  America, it was less welcome in Rome because of its Marxist overtones, and Pope John Paul II accordingly sought to limit its influence in the 1980s.

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 marginalized, 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.