Partners in Health co-founder Dr. Paul Farmer just published a book, “In the Company of the Poor.” It is full of his conversations and writings with Father Gustavo Gutiérrez, a Peruvian priest and longtime mentor and friend. The book is about their lifelong practice of not only walking with people who are poor, but working to change the conditions that keep them poor.
Here is part of a chapter:
“Reimagining Accompaniment: A Doctor’s Tribute to
Father Gustavo Gutiérrez
In 1971, when Gustavo Gutiérrez published A Theology of Liberation, I was eleven years old and living in small-town Florida. To me, and to my siblings, church was a place one went to fulfill obligations to parents and grandparents: First Communion, Confirmation, high holy days. It meant sitting through homilies—often boring ones, I’m sorry to say, and almost always remote from our experience. Perhaps the priests made too little effort, or felt little need to make the effort, to address people our age; more likely, we made too little effort ourselves. The arcana of theology were of course completely beyond us. Once we had advanced to high school, we saw little reason to continue going to Mass. Our parents, who shared our ambivalence, did not insist.
A few years later, the boundaries of my world had expanded significantly. I was a college student in Durham, North Carolina, and learning at last about the world we inhabited, pushing back the boundaries so that more and more of this very real world was revealed to me. I learned about conflicts taking place in Central America. For me and most of my college peers, those conflicts were remote and hard to understand. But in fact they were so profoundly connected to our world that a journalist reporting the Salvadoran army’s massacre of an entire village in that beleaguered nation would discover that the headstamps on the bullets read Lake City, Missouri. I learned about the resistance to tyranny and violence offered by many members of the church and thought: same church, same world. Not two or three worlds, but one. I stood in front of the Duke Chapel with more than a hundred fellow mourners, gathered in shock to grieve for the murder of Archbishop Romero of San Salvador. He had been cut down in the middle of Mass while intoning the very words, no doubt, that had recently seemed to me so dull and uninspiring.”
Read the rest: http://www.pih.org/blog/in-the-company-of-the-poor