Assmann, a pioneer of liberation theology, has died.
Last Friday, February 22, the renowned theologian and sociologist Hugo Assmann died of heart failure in the Santa Paula Hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he had been hospitalized. Assmannís death was made known through an e-mail message of his colleague and companion Jung Mo Sung.
Sao Paulo, Monday, February 25, 2008
Hugo Assmann was born in Brazil in 1933. For a number of years he was a Roman Catholic priest until he got married. After being exiled from his home country, he lived in Uruguay. He also worked for some years in Chile, where he had an active priestly ministry until the overthrow of Salvador Allende. He lived in Costa Rica and then returned to Brazil where he lived until his death. In Brazil he was a professor in the postgraduate programs in education of the UNIMEP, Piracicaba, in Sao Paulo.
Considered to be one of the most important exponents of the theology of liberation, Assmann was the author of “Theology from the Praxis of Liberation” (1973), “Oppression-Liberation. Challenge to Christians”(1971), “Pleasure and Tenderness in Education. Toward a Learning Society”, “Competition and the Sensibility of Solidarity: Educating for Hope” (with Jung Mo Sung).
With Assmann as one of its greatest promoters, the Ecumenical Department for Investigations (DEI in Spanish) was founded in 1976. As a required source for an approach to a theology of liberation and a Latin American Christology, Assmann leaves behind a rich heritage for the theologians of the continent.
The concept of the “idolatry of the market” as a starting point for criticizing the demand for the sacrificing of human lives in the name of the capitalist market is owed to Assmann, along with other theologians.
Thirty years ago Assmann stated that: “If the historic situation… of two thirds of humanity with its 30 million deaths from hunger and malnutrition each year, does not become the starting point for whatever Christian theology today… theology will be unable to make its fundamental themes historically concrete. Its questions will not be real questions. That is why it is necessary to save theology from its cynicism, because really, given the problems of today’s world, many theological writings are nothing more than cynicism.”
In an interview with the El País newspaper of Spain two decades ago, Assmann shared his visionary perspective: “I believe that the theological controversy of a theology for poor countries as opposed to a theology for rich countries has been overcome. Despite the wave of neo-conservatism that is lashing the Roman Catholic and other churches, today’s theology is moving toward a deepening of democracy and includes as themes for study and experience, among others, the economic, that of peace joined together with the struggle for justice, women’s liberation, the overcoming of cultural and ethnic differences, morals, the pedagogical models for creating democracy and other themes very closely related to everyday living. They are very universal themes and form part of all the theologies.”
According to Assmann’s family, he will be cremated as was his will.
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