Dr. Paul Farmer, co-founder of Partners In Health, encourages young students whenever he can — whether they are entering the field of medicine or not — to work for social change.
Dominican Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez, the 86-year-old liberation theologian, said his work is "a love letter to God, to the church and to my people."
Asked if he would change anything he has written in the past 40 years, the Peruvian who is often referred to as "the father of liberation theology," said no one would write their beloved the same love letter after 40 years, "but it is the same love."
It used to be that just saying the words "liberation theology" around Catholics was enough to start a schism-level fight, or at least raise a red flag in Rome.
The theological movement that focused on the poor emerged out of the church's social justice ferment in the 1960s, but it was always viewed by conservatives as an irredeemably Marxist version of the Gospel.
Worse, they said it was a tool of Soviet communists who were using the Roman Catholic church to foment revolution in Latin America and beyond, and at the very height of the Cold War.
Liberation theology, which interprets the teachings of Christ in relation to liberation from unjust social, economic and political conditions, is rooted in the Bible and the life of Jesus, said the priest who developed the concept nearly 50 years ago.
Dominican Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez told an audience Nov. 7 at St. Paul University in Ottawa that "theology is a hermeneutic of hope. Theology touches on the motive, the story of our Lord in history."
"If you look at history, change comes from the bottom up, not from the top down," Spanish Benedictine Sr. Teresa Forcades said.
NCR Today: The core mission of the Catholic church is to go outside of itself, to make neighbors, and to always be at the service of the poor.
For decades, many liberation theologians globally have lived with a looming possibility: A letter could arrive from the Vatican contesting their work.