And Latin American Theology

Frantz Fanon's book, The Wretched of the Earth, contains a foreword written by Jean Paul Sartre. In this foreword Sartre comments on the cultural subjugation of scholars and intellectuals who are born in underdeveloped countries and then educated in Europe. His whole foreword is a moving statement, describing how people from the Third World are taught to parrot the so-called "ideals" of Christian Europe. Since Europeans think that their ideals and ways are the best, they leave no room for native thinking in the countries which are culturally and economically dependent on them.

We are beginning to leave that stage here in Latin

America. Our theology is now cognizant of its own originality and of our own distinctive past. Our theology has a mission: to engage in liberative criticism. To do this, it must go back over the past and discover it again-with new, critical eyes. All this will be fleshed out in praxis, in concrete action which forwards the cause of liberation.

Some people must start the ball rolling by taking personal risks. They are the prophets who point the way to the future. Some unruly young nun, for example, may suddenly ask her community to consider a new course of action. She will be told tbat it has not been done before. Her proposal may greatly upset the community, but it may also contribute to the liberation of her sisters. Unfortunately, it often happens that such an unruly person is expelled from the community, even as the prophets of old were shunted aside and even killed by their people .

We must give thought to concrete praxis, for only such praxis can pave the way for authentic theology and for the possible development of a new Summa. Such a Summa may appear in the future, but it is also possible that systematic Summas are now a thing of the past. We have to keep the door open to all the unexpected events that will take place in the future, waiting for the parousia of Jesus in the poor.

Pristine Judaeo-Christian thought was critical and negative, in the sense that it stood in opposition to the sinfulness of the established order and left the door open to the future. In the future our own theology may have to be more like that: opposed to sinful structures and open to the Other, wherever that may lead it.

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