An analysis of Gregory Baum's theology of the "preferential option for the poor" as a via negativa which addresses important critiques of the preferential option

Martin Francis Carney, Fordham University

Abstract

This dissertation explores Gregory Baum's theology of the preferential option for the poor particularly in terms of how it can integrate and incorporate certain key critiques that the preferential option, and liberation theology in general, have faced. In the Introduction, the major principles of liberation theology are discussed, along with some of the important questions and challenges liberation theology has received. This is followed, in Chapter One, with an overview, history and analysis of the term, “preferential option for the poor.” This analysis includes key commentaries from both Latin American and North American theologians. Chapter Two then focuses on the theology of Gregory Baum with a particular emphasis on how his thinking about the preferential option provides a “via negativa” for advantaged North Americans, and what this via negativa implies for North American life. Chapter Three summarizes three specific critiques that liberation theology and the preferential option have generated. These critiques come from the Vatican, Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., and Dennis McCann. The Vatican critique argues that liberation theology and the preferential option are too divisive in society, in contrast to the Church's mission as a source of unity and healing. The Vatican also charges that liberation theology and the preferential option politicize the fundamentally spiritual nature of the Gospel. Dulles believes that liberation theology and the preferential option have not paid enough attention to the interiority and spirituality of faith. McCann, while agreeing that liberation theology and the preferential option are too political, also opines that Christian realism is a superior practical theology to liberation theology. In Chapter Four, Baum's theology is juxtaposed with the critiques. The argument is made that Baum's theology demonstrates that the preferential option, as a via negativa, unites and heals society, is appropriately political, and is realistic and practical. Chapter Five then draws certain conclusions and implications raised by this dissertation. ^

Subject Area

Theology

Recommended Citation

Martin Francis Carney, "An analysis of Gregory Baum's theology of the "preferential option for the poor" as a via negativa which addresses important critiques of the preferential option" (January 1, 2001). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3017543.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3017543

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