By Yenny Delgado
COVID-19 has radically transformed the world; more than 4 million people worldwide have perished. The pandemic has uncovered the inequalities inherent in current systems around the globe.
As we reflect on these situations, a Theology of Liberation developed by Gustavo Gutierrez over 50 years ago, proposes a concrete way for people of faith to dismantle systems of oppression and injustice.
As he writes, “Only authentic solidarity with the poor and a genuine protest against the poverty of our time can provide the concrete, vital context necessary for a theological discussion of poverty.”
Liberation Theology is centered on Jesus’ message concerning the marginalized, outcast, and poor. Poverty and impoverished communities reveal systematic problems and values. “Poverty is a scandalous condition inimical to human dignity; therefore, contrary to the will of God,” writes Gutierrez.
Through exclusionary laws, individuals are not permitted to leave the state of poverty, and that is injustice; this system should be antithetical to followers of Christ.
It is scandalous to know that millions of individuals working more than 40 hours a week cannot afford to put food on the table for their families. Indeed, although Jesus addressed hunger in the short term by miraculously multiplying bread and fish. He also admonished his followers to end hunger altogether.
During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the unmet needs of the impoverished and those living on the margins of society are more profoundly visible. Can we honestly say that the system is working for those in need?
Suppose we continue to accept systems that maintain the status of a few through the oppression of others. Opting for the comfort of the few at the expense of all, we are far from a coherent understanding of liberation. As a people of faith, working to end hunger and to end poverty need to be our priority actions.
Yenny Delgado is a psychologist and public theologian. She has worked for more than a decade advocating for improved education and ending to poverty. Delgado serves as the director of PUBLICA Theology and is a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church USA.