A Revolution in Catholic Thought on Poverty: Engaging the Poor Means Engaging in History

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Perhaps nowhere else has the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes been appropriated more radically and completely than by the Catholic Church of Latin America. The gathering of bishops at Medellín, Colombia in 1968 and the documents produced there represent a significant appropriation of the new possibilities opened up by Gaudium et Spes. The new emphasis on “justice” allowed the church to leave older “charity” approaches aside and the “dynamism” embodied by social doctrinal change would allow this episcopal body to affirm a preferential option for the poor that was both multifaceted and revolutionary. A careful consideration of documents from the Medellín Conference reveals the strong influence of Gaudium et Spes, especially in how the Latin American Church moved beyond the traditional societas perfectas model of church/state relations indicative of past centuries with its new commitment to transforming the world. This article highlights certain texts of Gaudium et Spes and their influence upon the Medellín documents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1061-1086
Number of pages26
JournalAmerican Journal of Economics and Sociology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


Dive into the research topics of 'A Revolution in Catholic Thought on Poverty: Engaging the Poor Means Engaging in History'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this