The development and analysis of Latin American liberation ethics

Patricia Ann Lamoureux, Fordham University


Despite the positive developments that have occurred in moral theology since the Second Vatican Council, there remains an underlying weakness. The renewal broadened the horizon of ethics but did not sufficiently shift its center of interest. The experiences and perspectives of impoverished, marginalized and oppressed people still have little influence on fundamental moral issues such as conscience, sin and fundamental option, despite the developments of feminist, African-American, Hispanic theologies and social ethics. Although still in an infancy stage, liberation ethics offers valuable insights for expanding and enriching moral discourse. It is concerned with the formulation of moral options, attitudes and values which lead to human and societal liberation. Any serious attempt at understanding the moral theology emerging from the Southern hemisphere, however, requires clarity about its underpinnings. The influence of liberation theology and the theological ethics of Marciano Vidal Garcia are so central to its formulation that an adequate and through exposition of the liberating schema requires an understanding of this theology and ethical model it subsumes. Therefore, the first two chapters explain these significant influences. With this background, the liberating ethical schema is explained primarily, but not exclusively, through the writings of four representative theologians who have developed this morality--Francisco Rejon Moreno, Tony Mifsud, Antonio Moser and Bernardino Leers. These moral theologians aim to bring new dimensions to "renewed" morality primarily through the methodology of liberation ethics and the moral criterion of preferential option for the poor. The claim for the option for the poor as primary moral criterion is given prima facie, but relative normative status. It provides the necessary partiality to achieve universal love and is given compensatory superiority because of present and historical neglect. The option for the poor is most fully understood in the context of the experience of solidarity and liberating praxis. The interrelated process of liberation which includes socio-analytical, anthropological and theological mediations aid in the ethical task of humanization and hominization. The process of discernment and moral norms help in making a proper response to God's call in history. Base ecclesial communities provide the most appropriate context for the process of discernment and making moral judgments. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

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Recommended Citation

Lamoureux, Patricia Ann, "The development and analysis of Latin American liberation ethics" (1994). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9416672.