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Paul Wess / Interview with the author

DEUS, Cristo e os Pobres. Libertação e salvação na fé à luz da Bíblia
(GOD, Christ and the Poor. Liberation and Salvation in Faith at the Light of the Bible)

Title: DEUS, Cristo e os Pobres
Title: (GOD, Christ and the Poor)
Subtitle: Libertação e salvação na fé à luz da Bíblia
Subtitle: (Liberation and Salvation in Faith at the Light
Subtitle: of the Bible)
Subject: Liberation Theology, Church of Christian Base
Subtitle: Communities (CEBs)
Year: 2011
Author: Paul Wess
Foreword: João Batista Libanio
Format: 16x23
Pages: 208
Publisher: Nhanduti Editora
ISBN: 9788560990122
Bishop Erwin Kräutler:

Since his first theological studies, Paul Wess has questioned critically premises and paradigms of theology and has looked for answers to open questions about the foundations of faith and the structures/actions of the church. The special flavor of his reflections comes from the soil where they ripened: a parish in Vienna where after Vat II started base communities that aimed to be a church of brothers and sisters and lived experiences of international exchange.
Like Jon Sobrino, Wess understands Jesus Christ as the “leader and fulfiller of faith” (Hebr 12,2) who became the brother of all, but preferentially of the poor, and the mediator of the liberation and salvation that God prepared for us. This reconsideration of biblical faith can orientate the practice of our communities, and it makes this book a welcome contribution that opens new perspectives for the Theology of Liberation.

João Batista Libanio SJ:

In the context of the Aparecida Conference arose inside the Theology of Liberation a certain tension among some of its most important protagonists. This tension was brought about by reflections of Clodovis Boff. [...] It is here that Wess begins his book [...] and shows the central point of the problem: the nature of the option for the poor and its consequences for making  theology. With admirable perspicacity, he realizes the shared but inverted point of the theologies of Clodovis and of his brother Leonardo. Both of them construct a certain relationship not reflexively elaborated between God, Jesus Christ and the poor.
The richness and the beauty of the book dwell in its clear formulation of the problem [...] and in the existential motivations of its author. The former supplies its scientific rigor, the latter provide its pastoral character. Wess realizes with perfection the famous axiom of Karl Rahner: “All theology must be pastoral, and all pastoral must be theological”.
The reader will greatly profit from this careful, perspicacious and profound theological reflection that sheds light on both sides of the contenders in this latest tension, this time already inside the Liberation Theology [...]. For the future, Wess invites us to speak “more carefully and more modestly, but in a common and reliable language about God, Christ and the poor”.

The option for the poor is not a simple subject of a “second class theology”, separated as a partial secondary field or a mere application of a “first class theology” that would start with God and from which all the rest could be deduced.
(...) God is and always will be transcendent for the human being – including for Jesus Christ – and thus has to be the most important “subject” within the theology that is one. Therefore we can speak about him only starting from the Human and interpreting, retroactively and always searching, our experiences with God as the foundation of our existence. If we do not considerate the concrete human beings and the salvation history, we do not have access to God.
(...) Therefore, in a biblical-christian sense, there is no “first class theology”, no “theology of faith” (as thinks C. Boff 2007, 1006) before or above of the Theology of Liberation which would be a “second class theology” that deals only with the human beings and preferentially with the poor. There is only one theology that knows about God’s transcendence and therefore starts  in a historical-concrete way from human experiences, specially from those that were possible thanks to the life and work of  Jesus and which must be testified in an adequate practice – in a practice of liberation. (pp. 197-8)

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