Limits of Liberation: Feminist Theology and the Ethics of Poverty and Reproduction, by Elina Vuola, begins with a brief comprehensive review of liberation theology and feminist theology. When Vuola combines them in chapter three, she shines the light of truth on liberation theology, finds a deficiency in the status and meaning of its praxis, and thus raises serious challenges to theologians. She separates the general "irruption of poor" into the particular "irruption of poor men", "irruption of poor women" and "irruption of poor women with children" and thus, she identifies a serious marginalization made by liberation theologians. Clearly, the voices of women, both speaking and needing to be heard, are absent. The preferential option for poor women (and children) is missing. In chapter four she addresses the sexual ethics that is currently in place which enslaves women, deprives them of educational and professional life-giving experiences and thus, leaves them vulnerable to sickness and early death. Clearly, Vuola is not afraid to be the feminine voice to confront the fact that the absence of women in the theological conversation in effect, also ignores issues of justice and sexual ethics.
One clear strength is her articulation of the need to include the voices of poor women. "If liberation theologians want to maintain their discourse on defending the life of the poor, they should also take these realities of the poor into account. Defending the life of poor women implies defending their reproductive rights, stemming from a sexual ethics that is able to start from the concrete realities of these women." ( 227) This feminist scholar challenges the next generation of liberation theologians to listen to feminist voices and allow themselves to be liberated.
In shining the light of truth on liberation theology today, Vuola identifies a problem in the area of sexual ethics. This is good. But her response to this problem needs more study and work. For example, she recommends the use of abortion as a means to solve the problem of unwanted pregnancy. Abortion does not eliminate STD and Aids. It does not eliminate psychological and emotional effects of the misuse of human sexuality. And it still puts the responsibility solely on women.
I would recommend this as a "must read" text for serious liberation theologians, ethicists, and ecotheologians. It raises questions that require the skills and expertise of our best and brightest. It is well written and documented. I am looking forward to next work.