The aim of this chapter is to offer a theological perspec- tive on some of the issues which have arisen in the previous analyses of the situation of Central America. Though this will lead to some discussion of "Liberation Theology," it is not the purpose of this chapter to attempt a comprehensive analysis of this topic. Nor is it assumed that that type of theology is the only one which would find acceptance in the region. The focus of the chapter will be upon the understanding of human rights and justice in one type of theology which has been developed with a specific reference to the culture of the region we are considering. It will be appropriate to begin with the contribution of a theologian, Jon Sobrino, who has developed a theology within this cultural setting.1


A difference between cultures marks the starting point of Jon Sobrino's analysis where he contrasts "European Theology" and "Latin American Theology."2 On the basic question, "Why do theology"? both "European" and "Latin American" theology would agree that theology is concerned with mediating between people's faith and their culture. The word "faith" can mean both the personal commitment of believers--the act of faith--and the beliefs to which they are committed--doctrines expressed in particular theological languages. The language in which the beliefs are expressed is, of course, related to culture. From the "European" perspective the problem is that the accepted beliefs may come under attack to such a degree that many no longer may find them credible3 and reject the belief system. The critical issue to be addressed is this threatened, or actual, fracturing of the belief system and consequent unbelief. The task of theology is to sustain the belief system, for example by showing that Christian beliefs, although not reducible to reason, are supremely reasonable. Further, if the belief system is discarded, it cannot provide a coherent pattern giving meaning to people's lives. Hence, theology's task includes providing such a coherent meaning for life.

 For "Latin American" theology, the problem is different. In this case the basic threat is not the fracturing of meaning patterns, but the real and actual fracturing of human persons and communities by hunger, oppression and captivity.4 This theology has its starting point, not in the threat to meaning, but in the actual destruction brought about by the structures of the society which are condemned as "sinful."5 The question which theology must ask is not how this interpretation of sin can be aligned with the interpretations of sin provided by the Scriptures and Church doctrine, and thus integrated in a coherent system of meaning. Rather, the task of theology is to identify the presence of sin and to ask how to be rid of it, that is, how to contribute to changing the situation. As Sobrino expresses it, the task of theology is ". . . to transform this real world and at the same time recover the meaning of faith."6

Ethical concern has a key place in this conception of theology. In the first place, an ethical judgment is involved in interpreting a given situation as sinful. A further ethical question is to be asked in inquiring why one does theology and what happens when theology is conducted in a particular way? If the motive for doing theology is basically to provide a coherent pattern of meaning for human persons and communities living in a certain situation, the status quo of that situation remains unchanged and, at least indirectly, justified.7 Theology of the "European" type would be prone to do precisely this.

Whatever view one takes as to the role of theology, it is clear that it involves a mediation between faith and interpretations of the existing cultural and historical realities. In this discussion, I propose to focus on some of the interpretations of the situation of Central America which have been presented in the preceding chapters.8 In particular, I will focus upon the following: distorted power relationships, distorted communication, and the corrosive attack on persons and society. As we have seen in Chapters VI and VII, literature interprets the response to this "wasteland" situation by asking how to regain one's country and oneself by processing through language what one has been suffering. The goals formulated are: to improve reality by shaping it through justice to liberate people from economic and political oppression. The task is that of a prophet carrying on a critique of society and of a soothsayer pointing to the future and initiating change. The criterion for a good interpretation (in literature) is the opening of possibilities for freedom, responsibility and a fuller living. A bad interpretation, in turn, is one which deadens and diminishes these possibilities.

There is a moral element in these proposals which theology must seek to grasp and interpret within its own perspective. For example, it should focus on distorted power relationships and formulate goals in terms of justice and/or liberation, taking as criteria the possibilities for more complete freedom and richer living revealed in the Christian message. Specifically, in its moral perspective, theology would focus upon violence in its structural and actual forms, the abuse of human rights, the deaths, and the external ideological, economic and military pressures which threaten to destroy effective resolution of the problems. Given these realities, how are we to go about formulating a theological response?


The formulation of a theological response is subject to the same difficulty as that encountered in the sphere of culture in general. In the latter case the problem is, "how to produce a cultural discourse where the language of the community has been repressed and perverted?" It is suggested that the recovery is to be found in and through the experience of Christian suffering. Similarly, the problem would be how to find an adequate theological discourse in a context where this also is subject to perversion.

It may be that suffering itself provides one human reality, at least, which has trans-cultural significance.9 It is not the brute reality of the injury itself which is of primary significance, rather the historical reality of suffering presents the inner state of the one who suffers. It is not merely a physical reality, for to suffer, a person must think, that is, interpret the experience. As a human reality, suffering is, then, culturally conditioned. Nevertheless, suffering as an inner state is expressed or interpreted, on a first level, in the physical, bodily signs of pain.10 The inner human meaning, shaped by a particular culture, is expressed through bodily signs which have meaning across cultural differences. The original protest against suffering is expressed in the signs evident in the faces and bodies of those suffering.11 Because such interpretations mesh so closely with our own bodily experience--the only experience which itself is unmediated--the experience of suffering is uniquely communicable. Thus, its bodily reality is the base against which any other interpretation can be tested for truth.

Suffering as a Privileged Source of Knowledge

Thus the reality of suffering to which the literature points might also be the reality with which theological interpretation could begin. It is a basic conviction of liberation theologians that those who suffer have a special insight into the truth of human affairs and indeed into the truth of the Gospel itself. Gustavo Gutierrez describes the backbone of liberation theology as consisting of two fundamental insights. The first is the theological method of critical reflection from within praxis. The second is the decision to work from the perspective of the poor.12

Jon Sobrino holds that one could find today within the Church of the poor a "better"--though by no means unique-channel for the experience of God. He does not claim that all the poor or all the individuals in the Church of the poor have the same experience, nor that their interpretation of their experience is somehow protected or insured against error. Nor is it claimed that all the poor have special insight or that the experience of poverty provides an infallible way of knowing.13 But there is a conviction among liberation theologians that those who suffer want, oppression and estrangement have open to them a privileged way to an understanding of life and human purposes.

For some theologians--I will take Leonardo Boff as a representative--the encounter with the suffering ones is the primary and essential starting point of theological reflection. There is an implicit epistemology of ethical-religious knowledge in this conception of liberation theology for which he cites a statement from the Puebla Final Document:

Viewing it in the light of faith, we can see the growing gap between rich and poor as a scandal and a contradiction to Christian existence. The luxury of a few becomes an insult to the wretched poverty of the masses. This is contrary to the plan of the creator and the honor due to him.14

The starting point is an experience of misery, heightened by contrast, which gives rise to the protest expressed in such terms as, "This cannot be; this is not pleasing to God." Stirred by the protest, the Christian conscience is moved to act.15 A call to religious, ethical and social action is demanded by the faith itself.16

Suffering: a Theological Question

This analysis is similar to that proposed by some European theologians who have developed the notion of the "experience of contrast."17 The contrast between the reality of misery and one's awareness of the positive values which are being violated provokes a fundamental protest which leads to a theological question and to ethical questions. The theological question is some form of "theodicy" issue of how God is implicated, if at all, in this suffering and misery. At least two kinds of answers which could be given. The first attempts to integrate the reality of suffering into a theological framework to show that it does not fracture the religious meaning system, but is contained within it. This approach has obvious affinity with the so-called "European" perspective discussed earlier, and like it could tend to justify the situation which causes the suffering. The second approach takes a different route. Some theologians argue that suffering cannot be legitimated or rendered meaningful by integrating it into a theological system. Thus, it cannot be justified by appeals to "the will of God" or by a later act of God which will set everything right, for example, by the reward of a better life in heaven. Rather, God does not will suffering in any way, but is acting to overcome suffering.18 Such an interpretation exposes suffering and misery as things to be challenged and overcome; at the same time this provides a theological foundation for action aimed at removing the causes of suffering. Engagement in overcoming suffering is to act as God is acting.

An illustration of what this could mean in the practical context of Central America can be found in a novel by Manlio Argueta, entitled One Day of Life.19 At the end of the day, one woman describes a discovery: "For me, everything was part of nature. He who is, is. Everyone carries his own destiny. I used to believe in those things. If one is poor, well, that's life. What are we going to do if God didn't reward us with a better life?"20 Now she has moved beyond this, and has discovered the meaning of conscience: "Conscience . . . is to sacrifice oneself for those who are exploited."

Suffering: Ethical Questions

Together with the theological question we must raise more specific ethical questions. It will be recalled that Boff's starting point was the experience of misery and oppression with an ethical protest against the growing gap between the rich and poor. This is judged to be an insult and contrary to the will of God. However, in Boff's account, there is no ethical analysis of this explicitly in terms of justice or rights. This point bears some investigation. Sobrino gives specific attention to the promotion of justice.21 His thesis is that justice is an essential requirement of the Gospel message. Justice is a form of love which is validated, not only by the fact that Jesus practiced it, but also by certain internal characteristics. These characteristics indicate the consonance of the practice of justice with the message of the Gospel as a whole.22 The characteristics are discovered not merely by an analysis of the concept of justice, but by observation of its actual practice.23 This points to the following characteristics:

(1) justice takes seriously the existence of oppressed majorities;

(2) the reality of injustice and oppression are revealed as the most radical denial of God's will through the destruction of the created order and the death of human beings.

(3) when faced with these negations, justice tries to give life;

(4) justice urges the adoption of a partisan perspective, namely that of the weak, the poor and the oppressed;

(5) justice thus fosters solidarity with the poor and oppressed; and

(6) the practice of justice often leads to personal conversion.24

"Justice" is used here in a broad sense; injustice is identified in such violations as killing and oppression. As Sobrino's work is concerned with fundamental theological issues, it would be unreasonable to require a detailed ethical analysis of justice and injustice. Killing, impoverishment and oppression would be spontaneously identified by morally concerned persons as injustice. Yet there would seem to be place for a more specific analysis of injustice if such spontaneous responses are to be ethically focused and if they are to lead to more specific moral imperatives. I am not arguing that specific imperatives can be derived from the analysis of an abstract concept of justice; Sobrino would rightly reject this. But if justice is practiced in engagement for the oppressed, it is both legitimate and necessary to seek to discern the form and structure of that practice by reason of which we call it "justice," for only if we can establish clearly what counts as justice can we also discern that which is contrary to justice. 


Granted that oppression, suffering and dependence involve violations of justice and rights, how is this to be explained? Three ways of thinking about justice and rights are to be considered: (a) that developed in liberation theology; (b) the theories of justice and rights developed in our culture, within the liberal tradition; and (c) the conceptions of justice and rights within the social teaching of the Church. A critical comparison of these three approaches will show the key importance of the cultural factor in our understanding of justice and rights.

Liberation Theology

It is somewhat surprising to a reader from the "first world" that the literature on liberation theology makes infrequent appeal to the rights language which has become the typical language of protest in Western culture, and only relatively rarely appeals to the doctrine on human rights of official Roman Catholic social teaching. 

I would argue that this is not merely an accident in the sense that the authors who propose and defend liberation theology simply have not yet gotten around to incorporating rights language in their thought. Rather I propose that there is a quite definite reason for what seems, from my perspective, to be a strange neglect. My suggestion is this: neither the rights language so familiar in our culture nor the social teaching of the Church can cope adequately with distorted power relationships, whereas this is precisely the problem which liberation theology seeks to address. I will now illustrate, from the writings of some theologians of liberation, these two points: (1) the centrality of the problem of power relationships, and (2) the absence of a developed ethical analysis of justice and rights.

In Boff's account the experience of contrast provokes "ethical indignation."25 Such indignation or protest presupposes some positive awareness of the values being violated, otherwise it would be impossible for one to experience contrast. At this point, where one would anticipate some reference to the values of justice, no such reference is made. Though justice is mentioned quite frequently, it is usually in a rather general sense. Thus, for example, Boff explains how, in contact with the exploited social class of the poor, a person experiences a genuine encounter with the Lord and makes a commitment to justice, identified as the prime characteristic of the Kingdom of God.26 The epistemology of "this new discourse on faith," as Boff describes it, is concerned with the correct articulation of connections between faith and social conflicts, or salvation and historical liberation.27 It is noteworthy that the connection is to be made immediately between faith and social conflict. There does not seem to be any need, in this discourse, for an ethical analysis in terms of justice and rights, which might mediate between faith and social reality.

In Gustavo Gutierrez's major work, no particular importance is attached to detailed analyses of justice and rights. When the word "justice" is used, it has the broad meaning of "righteousness" or is given more specific content drawn from the Scriptures--for example, not keeping back the wages of the poor, not oppressing the alien, the orphan and the widow.28 The basic ethical issue is identified as one of conflict arising out of oppression and the striving for liberation;29 the fundamental issue is control and dependency.30 What was wrong with the developmental proposals of the past was that they were to be achieved within the existing structures of power without challenging them.31 What is called for is a break with the status quo, that is, a profound change of the private property system, access to power by the exploited class, and a social revolution that would break the structure of dependence and thus allow for the change to a new society.32 Together with this goes a tragic and conflictual picture of reality which, Gutiérrez argues, is not sufficiently acknowledged in such official Church documents as Gaudium et Spes and Populorum Progressio.33

In his Ethics and the Theology of Liberation, Enrique Dussel bases his analysis on dependence, domination or exclusion from the center, by which is meant the center of power.34 In his later work, this author again focuses on the realities of dependence and oppression. He poses the question whether it is even possible to philosophize in a dependent culture.35 The answer might seem to be negative, since a dominating culture is one in which the ideology of the dominator has been adopted by the dominated, that is the colonized. However, there is another possibility, namely, that philosophical discourse take another point of departure, specifically from the opposition, the contrast or, as Dussel expresses it, the dissymetry between the polarities of center/periphery, dominator/dominated, totality/exteriority.36 From this starting point he maps out a pattern of thinking in which politics introduces ethics, which then introduces philosophy.37 But, he does not find it necessary or appropriate to articulate the ethics in terms of justice or rights.

The notion of justice receives explicit treatment in José Míguez Bonino's Towards a Christian Political Ethics.38 However, Bonino is concerned first of all with what he calls a "theological determination of priorities." He criticizes Christian tradition with having given first place to order, or more precisely peace considered as order, in preference to justice.39 In Bonino's view, the requirements of justice must take priority over social and political order. Justice means "the right of the poor." Thus, the criterion of right government is the rights of the poor. This interpretation of justice is justified by direct appeal to the Scriptures and to some of the early Fathers.40 The notion of justice here would seem to have a close affinity with "the preferential option for the poor" which is fundamental to liberation theology.41 However, I think it is still true to say that where one would expect to find a developed ethics of justice and rights, these are absent.42 I will now examine two traditions which might be called upon to fill this gap. 

Rights in the Liberal Tradition.

The notion of rights has been developed in relationship with freedom. According to Wilhelm Weber, the idea of freedom which emerged from the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and the French Revolution began as an abstract idea of equal rights for all. As this proved too general, it could not be made operational and there arose two clearly divergent responses; on the one hand, that to advocate equal rights for all without changing the social and economic order was to promote a mere abstraction, and therefore what was required was precisely a change in the social and economic order; on the other, that any proposal to organize such a change of the social and economic order would be a threat to the rights of individuals which were held paramount. There thus emerged two profoundly different ideologies of freedom in the politics of the 19th and 20th centuries which have continued to the present. One is concerned with the generality, with the freedom of the totality. The other is concerned with the freedom of the individual and resistant to any notion of subsuming the individual under the totality.43

From this historical division have emerged three basic conceptions. One takes its stand on the freedom of the individual and has as its central affirmation civil and political rights. This is the tradition of liberal democracy and the Western cultural tradition. The second affirms the centrality of social and economic rights, and has an affinity with the Marxist position. Christian social ethics, at least as articulated by some representatives from the first world, has proposed a "third way," in which civic and political rights are upheld, together with social and economic rights.44 The social teaching of the (Roman Catholic) Church has proposed its own version of such a third way.45

In the Marxist view the rights claimed in the liberal tradition are those of the dominant members of a bourgeois civil society: they are those of egoistic persons separated from others and from the community. It is a question of preserving the liberty of the ego regarded as an isolated monad withdrawn into oneself. Thus, eagerness to preserve human rights is simply a mask for the love of money, property and bourgeois dominance. Only the communist society can guarantee the rights of man, namely, the rights to produce, to technical education which aids human mastery over human destiny, and to participate in the building of a new society. These are set forth as goals and guides for the State and for State bureaucratic authorities. The individual has rights only as a member of the socialist society, controlled in principle by the working class. This, in turn, guides the actions of the state and requires of the state active protection of all social rights. The individual has proper claims against bureaucratic structures when the structures prevent full participation in the socialist civil society.46

It might be suggested, then, that the reticence in using the language of justice and rights is part and parcel of the assumption of Marxist categories by liberation theology.47 Such an answer would be an oversimplification. I would suggest that an examination of representative theories of justice and rights in the liberal tradition manifests the source of difficulty. In John Rawls's theory of justice, for example, individual liberty has priority.48 Rawls's second principle, however, states that social and economic equalities are to be arranged so that they are both to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged and attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair opportunity.49 Rawls's theory thus includes what might be called a type of "preference for the poor."

A trade off between individual liberty and other social goods would be permissible in certain social conditions, if it is necessary to raise the level of civilization to the point where basic needs have been generally met.50 If an actual historical situation were such that the conditions did not allow the effective realization of equal liberties, then Rawls's theory could rationally justify restrictions on liberty. But this would seem to be of little help when what is required is a radical transformation of the social conditions distorted by oppressive power structures.51 What is needed is not an abstract theory, but a conception of justice which can guide the transformation in actual historical circumstances. 

The proprietarian theory of Robert Nozick is summed up in the slogan "From each as they choose, to each as they are chosen."52 His position could sanction a system in which the wealthy and their successors could maintain economic and legal privileges indefinitely and in which the less well off are caught in an endless cycle of relative deprivation. Other authors, such as Alan Gewirth develop a theory of rights by a closely reasoned analysis of the necessary conditions of human action, but do not seem to consider situations where actions, in concrete history, may be suppressed by distorted power relationships.53 It would seem clear that such theories of rights and justice are culture bound and inadequate to interpret the oppression and dependence of Central America or of Latin America as a whole.

The Social Teaching of the Church

The official statements of Church teaching in this area strongly defend a wide range of fundamental human rights.54 It is not being suggested that liberation theologians would ignore these rights. However, there are differences which may account for the absence of extensive reference to the social teaching of the Church in the work of liberation theologians. For some, at least, there is a dichotomy between liberation theology and the social teaching of the Church. The "Instruction on Certain Aspects of the `Theology of Liberation'," for example, presumes that there are sharp differences.55 The relationship between liberation theology and the social teachings of the Church calls for a more thorough treatment than I can provide here. However, there are reasons for thinking that one source of difficulty is cultural. A number of authors, among which Marie Dominique Chenu is one of the most forthright,56 have challenged the social teaching of the Church as having an ideological character. If so, the theologies of liberation would not be constructed on the basis of this social doctrine.57 Josef Ratzinger, in an earlier article, also criticized an ideological element in Catholic social doctrine.58 More recently Werner Kroh objected to its three level model59 where theological doctrine stands on the top, a separate and distinct social teaching structured in terms of the "natural law" on the next level, and practical implementation on a third. It is argued that the "natural law" component contains particular cultural features drawn in the main from Europe, which are given the status of the "natural" and thus assume a fixed, ideological character. Insofar as these alien but absolutized cultural elements are included within the natural law component of this teaching, theologians of liberation would justifiably have reservations about its applicability to their situation. Furthermore, the assumption of basic order and harmony and the consequent hesitation to accept the conflictual character of human reality, which has marked such teaching, might well be seen as not appropriate to a situation calling for the radical change of power relationships.60

There is reason then to suggest that both the rights theories from the liberal tradition and the social teaching of the Church contain elements which make it difficult for them to deal with a situation of distorted power relationships, such as that of Central America. 

Granted these real shortcomings in the available theories of rights and justice, I would argue nevertheless that there is need for a more explicitly developed theory of justice within liberation theology as it has been developed in Latin America. For example, we need to be able to say explicitly why the increasing gap between rich and poor and why a condition of imposed dependency is wrong. Unless these points can be explained, moral norms cannot be formed for the action required to change the situation. Such a change, most would agree, is precisely what ought to be sought in Central America.61 

The Catholic University of America

Washington, D.C.


1. Jon Sobrino, The True Church and the Poor, trans. by Matthew J. O'Connell (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1984). Jon Sobrino, a Jesuit Priest, is a professor of philosophy and theology at the Universidad José Simeón Cañas, El Salvador.

2. Ibid., p. 14. The analysis is carried on in terms similar to those discussed at length in the paper by Dr. Balthazar.

3. Ibid., p. 13. "Myth" here is used in the sense of the fanciful, untrue.

4. Ibid., p. 17.

5. Ibid., p. 16.

6. Ibid., p. 20.

7. Ibid., p. 20. On methodological issues, see especially the volume of papers from the conference on theological method: Liberación y Cautiverio: Debates en torno al método de la teología en América Latina (Mexico City: Comité Organizador, 1975), cited in Roger Haight, S.J., An Alternative Vision: An Interpretation of Liberation Theology (New York: Mahwah, 1985), p. 302, note 12; Gustavo Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics and Salvation, trans. and ed. by Sr. Caridad Inda and John Eagleson (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1973), pp. 45, 36-37, 149-178; Juan Luis Segundo, The Liberation of Theology, trans. by John Drury (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1976).

8. In this I must acknowledge my debt to several of the earlier contributions to this volume. The way in which these have been interpreted is, of course, the responsibility of this author.

9. The proposal is that of Ernesto Cardenal. See chapter Vii by Roberto Hozven above.

10. Cf. Rodney Needham, Belief, Language and Experience (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972), p. 140.

11. Cf. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Zettel, ed. by G.E.M. Anscombe and G.H. von Wright, trans. by G.E.M. Anscombe (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1967), no. 225. "We do not see facial contortions and make inferences from them. . . . We describe a face immediately as sad, radiant, bored, even when we are unable to give any description of the features.--Grief, one would like to say, is personified in the face."

12. Gustavo Gutierrez, The Power of the Poor in History trans. by Robert R. Barr (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1983), p. 200. "As a result the poor appear within this theology as the key to an understanding of the meaning of liberation and of the meaning of the revelation of a liberating God."

13. Sobrino, The True Church and the Poor, pp. 127-128.

14. Puebla 28/128, cited in Leonardo and Clodovis Boff, Salvation and Liberation: In Search of a Balance Between Faith and Politics (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1984), p. 3.

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid., p. 5. Boff goes on to speak of three "mediations." The first is socio-analytical, by which we acquire a critical knowledge of reality, freed from naiveté, empiricism and moralism. The second is "hermeneutical mediation." Prophetic cries unleash action, but fail to modify reality and are not guaranteed to be correct interpretations of reality in the light of faith. Finally, it is necessary to seek out viable strategies for the liberation of the poor, within the framework of religious, political, military, ideological and economic forces. This is what he calls the mediation of pastoral practice. These have been explained in chapter IX by Dr. Balthazar above.

17. On the contrast experience see Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P., "Questions on Christian Salvation of and for Man," in Towards Vatican III: The Work That Needs to Be Done, ed. David Tracy, et al. (New York: Seabury, Concilium, 1978); pp. 27-44; "Erfahrung und Glaube," in Christliche Glaube in moderner Gesellschaft, Vol. 25 of Enzyklopadische Bibliothek, ed. Franz Bökle, et al. (Freiburg-Basel-Wien: Herder, 1981), 74-116; E. Schilebeeckx, Christ: the Experience of Jesus as Lord (New York: Crossroad, 1981); "Christian Identity and Human Integrity," in Is Being Human a Criterion of Being Christian?, Jean-Pierre Jossua and Claude Geffré, eds. (New York: Seabury, Concilium, 1982), pp. 23-31.

18. Cf. Schillebeeckx, Christ, p. 727.

19. Manlio Argueta, One Day of Life, trans. by Bill Brow (New York: Vintage Books, 1983). The novel is set in El Salvador.

20. Ibid., p. 171.

21. The True Church and the Poor, pp. 39-63.

22. Ibid., p. 50.

23. Ibid.

24. Ibid., p. 51.

25. Boff, Salvation and Liberation, p. 15.

26. Ibid., p. 25.

27. Ibid., p. 29.

28. Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation, pp. 194-5.

29. "Concretely in Latin America this conflict revolves around the oppression-liberation axis." Ibid., p. 36.

30. For a detailed exposition of the situation of control and dependency, see chapter V by Marta Julia Cox and Frederico Sanz above.

31. Guttierrez, A Theology of Liberation, p. 26.

32. Ibid., pp. 26-27.

33. Ibid., p. 34.

34. Enrique Dussel, Ethics and the Theology of Liberation, tr. by Bernard McWilliams, C.SS.R. (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1974), pp. 166, 175.

35. Enrique Dussell, Philosophy of Liberation, trans. by Aquilina Martinez and Christine Morkovsky (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis), p. 172.

36. Ibid., p. 172.

37. Ibid., p. 173.

38. José Míguez Bonino, Towards a Christian Political Ethics (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982), pp. 79-86.

39. He sums up what he calls the "Augustinian" view. "The premise of Augustine's position in these cases is quite clear--peace understood as order. Society is an organism that must function harmoniously. The chief purpose of societal organization is the suppression of conflict and tumult. Changes, or the respect for personal freedom or for justice, might endanger that order. Whenever an alternative emerges, therefore, the Christian ought to work for the best possible solution, the most just and generous one, short of endangering the existing order." Ibid., p. 83. This is surely a questionable interpretation of Augustine.

40. Ibid., p. 86. In the short work being discussed here these justifications are not developed at any length.

41. On this concept and its modification at Puebla to "preferential option for the poor and the young," see Juan Luis Segundo, Theology and the Church (Minneapolis, MN.: Winston Press, A Seabury Book, 1985), p. 41.

42. It is interesting to refer at this point to the "political theology" developed by Johannes Baptist Metz. This has some similarities with, and some differences from, liberation theology. Metz once defined "political theology" as "the specifically Christian hermeneutics of political ethics as an ethics of change." Johann Baptist Metz, "`Politische Theologie', in der Diskussion," in Diskussion zur `politischen Theologie', ed. Helmut Peukirt (Mainz and Munich: Kaiser and Matthias Grünewald, 1969), p. 282. However, Metz to my knowledge has not developed this political ethic of change, and has not invoked a developed theory of justice and rights to this end.

43. Cf. Wilhelm Weber, "Die Katholischen Sozialethik vor dem Problem der Unbewaltigten Freiheit in der Gesellschaft," in Ordnung im sozialen Wandeln, ed. Alfred Klose et al. (Berlin: Dunker and Humbolt, 1976), pp. 215-229.

44. Cf. Jurgen Moltmann, On Human Dignity: Political Theology and Ethics, trans. with an introduction by M. Douglas Meeks (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984), pp. 19-35; Cf. David Hollenbach, Retrieving and Renewing the Catholic Human Rights Tradition (New York: Paulist Press, 1979), p. 141.

45. See Marie-Dominique Chenu, O.P., La "doctrine sociale de l'église" comme ideologie (Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1979), p. 93.

46. Karl Marx, On the Jewish Question, in Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, Collected Works, Vol. 3 (1975), pp. 162-163. See Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Werke, Bd. I (Berlin: Dietz Verlag, 1972), pp. 363-365. Cf. Max Stackhouse, Creeds, Societies and Human Rights: Studies in Three Cultures (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984), pp. 167-198.

47. The uncritical adoption of Marxist "analysis" was one of the charges brought against some theologians of liberation by the Instruction on Certain Aspects of the "Theology of Liberation," (VII). This, it is said, leads to a radical questioning of ethics and an implicit denial of the distinction between good and evil (VIII, 9). The document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is published in Origins, 14 (1984), 194-204.

48. John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1971).

49. Ibid., p. 302.

50. Ibid., p. 152. Rawls writes, "The denial of equal liberty can be defended only if it is necessary to raise the level of civilization so that in due course these freedoms can be enjoyed. Thus, in adopting a serial order we are making a special assumption in the original position, namely, that the parties know that the conditions of their society, whatever they are, admit the effective realization of the equal liberties." Cf. p. 542.

51. See Hollenbach, Claims in Conflict (New York: Paulist Press, 1979), p. 19, for a critique of Rawls.

52. Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia (New York: Basic Books, 1974), p. 160.

53. Alan Gewirth, Human Rights: Essays on Justification and Applications (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1982).

54. For an excellent account of this teaching see Hollenbach, Retrieving and Renewing the Catholic Human Rights Tradition.

55. See X. 4; "For the `theologies of liberation', however, the social doctrine of the church is rejected with disdain. It is said that it comes from the illusion of a possible compromise, typical of the middle class, which has no historic destiny." The opposition between the two was made clear, for example, at the Assembly of the German Bishops in September, 1984, on the theme "The Social Teaching of the Church, or The Theology of Liberation." See Hansjurgen Verweyn, "Ekklesiologie der Befreung," Theologische Revue, 8l (1952), 89-98.

56. Chenu, La "doctrine sociale de l'église" comme ide- ologie, pp. 57, 89. Chenu recognizes the validity of the term "social doctrine" in a general sense, namely as an expression of the belief that the Gospel includes "consubstantially," besides personal perfection, a collective, social engagement in the construction of the world and the promotion of humanity. What he challenges is a "social doctrine" which proposed a set of abstract general principles, founded on an interpretation of the natural law, from which applications were to be deduced for all situations. This approach passed by the historical realities of different social and political situations.

57. Ibid., p. 93. The term has been revived by Pope John Paul II. He has used the term on a number of occasions, particularly in reference to Latin America. It is used to express "a correct Christian idea of liberation." [Puebla Speech, III, 6] See Peter Hebblethwaite, "The Popes and Politics: Shifting Patterns in `Catholic Social Doctrine'," Daedalus, III: 1 (1982), 85-99, esp. 93.

58. Joseph Ratzinger, "Naturrecht, Evangelium und Ideologie in der katholischen Soziallehre, Katholische Erwägungen zum Thema," in Christlicher Glaube und Ideologie, ed. by K. von Bismark and W. Dirks (Stuttgart, Berlin: 1964), pp. 24-30.

59. Werner Kroh, Kirche im Gesellschaftlichen Widerspruch (Munich: Kosel Verlag, 1982), pp. 140, 201.

60. More recent official statements of the social teaching of the Church recognize the element of conflict more clearly. The Instruction on Certain Aspects of the "Theology of Liberation" recognizes "The acute need for radical reforms of the structures which conceal poverty and which are themselves forms of violence . . . " (XI. 8). It then qualifies the statement by recalling that this should not let us lose sight of the fact that the source of injustice is in the hearts of men. Gutierrez had made the same point; see A Theology of Liberation, p. 35.