The Option for the Poor and the Phenomenology of Life

Vincent J. Pastro 1
  • 1 Santa Clara, University, United States of America


Recently, Catholic teaching and theology have given much attention to “the preferential option for the poor.” Gustavo Gutierrez, OP, who has popularized the phrase, also defines theology as a “reflection on praxis in the light of the word of God.” The praxis of the option for the poor is therefore indispensable to the theological task, for theology must always be “enfleshed” and concrete in the life of the people. This is particularly the case of Latin American theology and strongly emphasized in the magisterium of Pope Francis. The option for the poor has its foundation in who God is and how God is for the people (cf Exod 3:8-15). The option for the poor is grounded in life. Michel Henry’s phenomenology of life provides a logical approach to theological reflection on poverty, justice, and solidarity with the poor. The people of God, the Church community, live the option in concrete praxis. The God of life has a special love and concern for the poor. The poor, and those in solidarity with them, mysteriously experience the divine love and grace in their everyday lives and la lucha por la vida (the struggle for life). In the living, religious experience is intimately grounded.

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Open Theology is an international Open Access, peer-reviewed academic journal that welcomes contributions written in English addressing religion in its various forms and aspects: historical, theological, sociological, psychological, and other.