Liberation Theology and Social Activism
Gustavo Gutiérrez delivers his prize lecture.

Liberation Theology as a Global Phenomenon: Reflections of a Founder
Gustavo Gutiérrez talks with Rajesh Sampath, assistant professor of the philosophy of justice, rights and social change at the Heller School.

2014-2015 Recipient


Rev. Gustavo GutiƩrrez, O.P.

A world-renowned Catholic Dominican priest from Peru, now the John Cardinal O’Hara Endowed Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, Gustavo Gutiérrez is a founder of liberation theology, which combines theology with social activism. His book, “A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, and Salvation,” is widely considered one of the most important works in 20th-century theology, and plays a critical role in informing the ethical values of faith-based organizations working in developing countries in Latin America and beyond.

His other major books — which have been translated from Spanish into multiple languages — also touch on issues of spirituality and Latin American history. They 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.” He is currently working on a book exploring the historical background and continuing theological relevance of the preferential option for the poor.

Gutiérrez was awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government “for his tireless work for human dignity and life, and against oppression.”

After studying medicine and literature in Peru, Gutiérrez studied psychology and philosophy at Louvain in Belgium, and received a doctorate at the Institut Catholique in Lyons, France. Gutierrez has been a principal professor at the Pontifical University of Peru, a visiting professor at many major universities in North America and Europe, and holds nearly 20 honorary degrees.

Photo by Matt Cashore / University of Notre Dame