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  • The Preferential Option for the Poor beyond Theology

    © 2014 University of Notre Dame

  • © 2014 University of Notre Dame

  • The Preferential Option for the Poor beyond Theology

    Edited by

    D a n i e l G . G r O O D y


    G u s T a v O G u T i é r r e z

    University of Notre Dame Press . Notre Dame, Indiana

    © 2014 University of Notre Dame

  • Copyright © 2014 by university of notre Dame Press

    notre Dame, indiana 46556

    all rights reserved

    Manufactured in the united states of america

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    The preferential option for the poor beyond theology / edited by Daniel G. Groody and Gustavo Gutiérrez.

    pages cm includes bibliographical references and index.

    isBn 978-0-268-02986-9 (pbk. : alk. paper) — isBn 0-268-02986-5 (pbk. : alk. paper)

    1. Poverty—religious aspects—Christianity. 2. Church work with the poor. 3. Gutiérrez, Gustavo, 1928– Teología de la liberación. 4. liberation

    theology. i. Groody, Daniel G., 1964– editor of compilation. ii. Gutiérrez, Gustavo, 1928– editor of compilation.

    Bv4647.P6P74 2013 261.8'325—dc23


    ∞ The paper in this book meets the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity of the

    Council on Library Resources.

    © 2014 University of Notre Dame

  • We dedicate this book to

    Mike anD liz laFOrTune

    whose generosity, support, and witness to selfless service helped make this work possible.

    © 2014 University of Notre Dame

  • © 2014 University of Notre Dame

  • Contents

    introduction 1 Gustavo Gutiérrez and Daniel G. Groody

    O n e

    On Professors and Poor People: a Jurisprudential Memoir 9 Robert E. Rodes, Jr.

    T w O The Option for the Poor and Business ethics 28 Georges Enderle

    T h r e e

    The Multidimensionality of Poverty 47 Javier María Iguíñiz Echeverría

    F O u r

    are the Poor happier? Perspectives from Business Management 69 Matt Bloom

    F i v e

    The Option for the Poor and the indigenous Peoples of Chile 83 Patricio A. Aylwin and José O. Aylwin

    © 2014 University of Notre Dame

  • viii Contents

    s i x

    Option for the Poor and Option for the earth: Toward 97 a sustainable solidarity Stephen Bede Scharper

    s e v e n

    liberation science and the Option for the Poor: Protecting 120 victims of environmental injustice Kristin Shrader-Frechette

    e i G h T

    Teaching and Transformation: liberal arts for the homeless 149 F. Clark Power and Stephen M. Fallon

    n i n e

    a hollywood Option for the Poor 167 Gerard Thomas Straub

    T e n

    The Option for the Poor and Community-Based education 183 Mary Beckman

    e l e v e n

    health, healing, and social Justice: insights from liberation 199 Theology Paul Farmer

    T w e l v e

    Closing argument 229 Pat Maloney, Sr.

    afterword: The Most important Certainty 236 Mary J. Miller

    Contributors 242 index 247

    © 2014 University of Notre Dame

  • 1


    G u s T a v O G u T i é r r e z & D a n i e l G . G r O O D y

    Poverty is a complex issue. while its roots are socioeconomic, it affects people on every level of their existence. understanding its causes and its consequences requires serious and sustained thought across a wide variety of academic disciplines. The principle of the preferential option for the poor has had an enormous impact on the field of theology, but this same principle has had a ripple effect in other areas as well. The pur- pose of this volume is to begin to look at how this theological notion has influenced other disciplines and the ways scholars have woven the golden thread of this concept into their various walks of life.

    although this volume approaches poverty from a wide range of disci- plinary backgrounds, we begin by grounding the discussion in the reality of the world as it is today, particularly for the poor, the vulnerable, and the insignificant of society. while globalization has helped improve the standard of living for some of the world, still 19 percent of the global population lives on less than one dollar per day, 48 percent lives on less than two dollars per day, and, according to the world Bank, fully two- thirds of the human population lives in poverty.1 But economic poverty is only one dimension of the problem. Transforming the world into a place that fosters the dignity of every person challenges all people to consider

    © 2014 University of Notre Dame

  • 2 Gustavo Gutiérrez & Daniel G. Groody

    in what ways they can help to promote justice and peace here and now. it will take economists, lawyers, medical technologists, plumbers, farm- ers, retailers, CeOs, clergy, scientists, construction workers—in short, those in every profession, occupation, and vocation—to make the refugee camps in sudan obsolete, to continue the rebuilding efforts in tsunami- stricken south asia and the hurricane-ravaged u.s. Gulf coast, to put an end to corrupt and oppressive governments wherever they exist, to assist struggling economies so that citizens are not forced by need to migrate, to stem the tide of preventable childhood deaths, to replace violence with peace, and to rectify all circumstances of global injustice.

    in the 1960s the expression “the preferential option for the poor” emerged, little by little, as a message from numerous Christians from latin america who were struggling to be in solidarity with those in great need. while this expression was rooted in Christian faith and praxis, be- cause of its humanistic dimension it also appealed to others who shared similar social, although not always theological, convictions.

    instrumental in this process was bringing the insignificant and mar- ginalized of society to the forefront of history. The poor have been, and continue to be, the biggest absentees from the history of humanity, anony mous during their lives and in their deaths. except sporadically, they pass through existence without leaving a footprint. Their struggles and suffering, as well as their cultural values, dreams, and joys, have forced them to take not the grand avenues but the side streets, the coun- try roads, and the dead ends of the journey of our people. while they arrived with poverty on their back, as Fray Bartolomé de las Casas would say, a visible germlike change in recent decades has been emerging, and there is a new consciousness of the poor and about the poor.

    various historical events have allowed us to become aware of the causes and contours of the reality of poverty. as a result many groups have started to rediscover the memory of events and tendencies of their own past and of diverse cultural values which, for many reasons, has been omitted from recorded history. when we speak about poverty, we are not merely referring to its economic aspect, although its importance is un- questionable; we must also keep in the forefront of any dialogue about poverty that it is an exceedingly complex reality. in addition to the eco- nomic aspect, poverty also has cultural, racial, religious, and gender di- mensions. The preferential option for the poor seeks to acknowledge the

    © 2014 University of Notre Dame

  • introduction 3

    multifaceted scope of poverty while standing in solidarity with the so- cially insignificant and excluded.

    This solidarity is at the heart of the biblical message and has therefore led to a rereading and deepening of the Christian message. while the ex- pression “preferential option for the poor” is relatively recent, its content is as old as the scriptures. in it we find a faith perspective but also a pro- found reflection on what it means to be human and to create a more hu- mane world. Therefore, while poverty is complex, this humane sense of the option for the poor resonates with various disciplines whose research and reflection add a wealth of richness and depth to these initial and on- going efforts.

    This book has its origin in two international conferences held at the university of notre Dame, one in 2002, the other in 2004. From the first emerged a book entitled The Option for the Poor in Christian Theology, and from the second, A Promised Land, a Perilous Journey: Theological Per- spectives on Migration, both published by the university of notre Dame Press.2 in 2012 we also published through Orbis Books Gustavo Gutiér- rez: Spiritual Writings. This present book is a further contribution to our reflection on the topic of the option for the poor, but from a perspective different from that of previous works. it seeks to examine faith and jus- tice, in light of the global challenges of the twenty-first century, from the platform of disciplines other than theology. in the stories they tell, we see how the contributors have discovered inventive and life-giving ways to live out their own ethics, ideals, and the call to justice.

    This volume is about the option for the poor from an interdisciplin- ary perspective. while it has a reference point in theology, it also goes beyond theology into other ways in which scholars, activists, and practi- tioners have tried to highlight the needs of the poor in helping construct a better world. a collection of essays by economists, politicians, lawyers, tea