Father Gutierrez, founder of liberation theology

by Michael O. Garvey

Rev. Gustavo Gutierrez, O.P., John Cardinal O’Hara Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, has received the 2003 Prince of Asturias Award for Communications and the Humanities.

Father Gutierrez, a member of the Notre Dame faculty since 2001, is widely credited as the author of the foundational text for liberation theology, “A Theology of Liberation.” The movement launched by his work rapidly became one of the most influential in contemporary theology by calling attention to the Church’s vocation to resist the oppression of the poor. Other books he has written, which similarly concern theology, spirituality and Latin American history, include, “We Drink From Our Own Wells: The Spiritual Journey of A People,” “On Job: God-Talk and the Suffering of the Innocent,” "The Truth Shall Make You Free,? "The God of Life,? and “Las Casas: In Search of the Poor of Jesus Christ.”

Born in Lima, Peru, in 1928, Father Gutierrez studied psychology and philosophy in Belgium at l’Universite Catholique de Louvain and earned his doctorate at l’Universite Catholique de Lyon in France. He returned to Peru to teach at the Pontifical University of Peru in Lima, preferring to live and work in parishes in the slums of the city rather than in the more comfortable neighborhood surrounding the university.

In addition to serving as a professor at the Pontifical University of Peru, Father Gutierrez has taught at many major universities in North America and Europe. He is a member of the Peruvian Academy of Language, and in 1993 he was awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government for his work for human dignity in Latin America and the Third World.

The Prince of Asturias Awards honor scientific, cultural and social work conducted internationally by individuals, groups and institutions whose achievements represent an example for mankind. The awards were established in 1980 by the Prince of Asturias Foundation, a non-profit institution that aims to promote the sciences, technology, concord, arts and letters. Prince Felipe of Spain, the Prince of Asturias, presides over the Foundation and presents the awards annually at a ceremony in Asturias, Spain.