The preferential option for the poor, like other key principles of the Christian faith, presents the faithful with a concrete and a transcendent reality. Concretely, the phrase arises out of historic situations of deep suffering and oppression in Latin America during the 1950s through the 1980s, and the Church’s struggle to be an agent of hope amidst this suffering – to be the church of the poor promoted at Vatican II. This program leads participants in exploring its essential theological insights in two ways: 1) by understanding the context out of which the phrase arose, and, 2) by addressing current contexts in which we engage in mission, spiritual development, and evangelization.
Both present the option for the poor as an incarnate principle of divine love, at the intersection of the horizontal mandate for love of neighbor and the vertical reality of God’s love made flesh. While being exposed to the historical and the current contexts in which the option for the poor is expressed, participants will examine their own contexts and biographies in light of these insights in collaborative exercises. Activities and materials will focus on the role of the church in embodying the option for the poor, especially when considering current contexts of economic, racial, gender/sex and environmental injustice.
Resource Person: Maria Teresa Davila, PhD., holds a doctorate of Philosophy from Boston College and is currently Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics at Andover Newton Theological School, Boston, MA. Her main interests are the intersections of class identity formation and Christian ethics in the U.S. context. She is currently conducting a study to examine the relationship between different understandings of discipleship and activism-public witness-faith in action.