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Fr. Gutierrez: To Announce the Gospel is to Subvert Society and History


Today we transcribe another text by Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez in order to know the thinking of Archbishop Gerhard Müller, who declares himself to be a faithful disciple of Fr. Gutierrez and his Liberation Theology (here and here).

In this text, he preaches that announcing the Gospel has subverted society and history.

At right, the cover of Concilum magazine, The People and the Church (Os pobres e a igreja), which includes the essay by Gutierrez titled "The People in the Church" (Os Pobres na Igreja). Below right, the Portuguese text; below left, our translation.


Human history is actually the place of our encounter with the Father of Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ we announce the love of the Father to all human beings. We are reminded that this is a history of conflict, but it does not suffice to say this. It is necessary to insist that history (where God reveals himself and we announce Him) must be re-read,departing from the poor. Mankind's history was written, as a Brazilian theologian said, "by white hands," by the dominant sectors of society.

Another perspective is that of those who were "defeated" in history, a history which must be read departing from their struggles, resistances and hopes. Many efforts were made to erase the memories of the oppressed, i.e., to take from them a source of energy, historic determination and rebellion. Today these humiliated peoples are trying to understand their past in order to build the present on a solid base.

The history of Christianity also has been written by white, Western and bourgeois hands. We have to recover the memory of the "scourged Christs of the Indias" as Bartolomé de las Casas called the Indians of the American Continent, and with them, all the poor, the victims of the lords of this world. This memory lives in cultural expression, in the religion of the people, in their resistance to accepting the impositions of the Church apparatus. It is the memory of a Christ present in each starving or thirsting person, in the prisoner, the humiliated, the despised races, the exploited classes (cf Mt 25). The memory of a Christ who saved us to make us free (Gal 5:1).

The expression we just used - to re-read history - can seem to be an exercise for intellectuals unless we understand that it is a result of a re-making of history. It is not possible to re-read history if we are not present in the successes and defeats of the liberating struggle. To re-make signifies to overthrow this history, that is, to invert it, establishing it not from the top, but from the bottom.

The dominant Establishment taught us to have a pejorative idea of what is subversive because it is dangerous for it. From another perspective, however, what is wrong is to be - or perhaps to continue to be - a support to the prevailing dominant power, someone who sees history from the eyes of the great of this world.

This subversive history is the beginning of a new experience of faith, a new spirituality and a new announcement of the Gospel. Understanding the faith from the historic praxis of liberation leads to a new announcement of the Gospel at the very heart of that praxis. This announcement is simultaneously a vigilant gesture, an energetic compromise, and a concrete solidarity with the interests and struggles of the lower classes, and a word that is rooted to the gesture, defines actions, and is celebrated as thanksgiving.

("Os pobres na Igreja" in Concilium, Os pobres e a Igreja, 1977/4, pp. 90-91)

Os pobres e a Igreja

Gustavo Gutierrez

Gustavo Gutierrez












Posted on August 18, 2012


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