Even people who attend the Ignatian Family Teach-in on the anniversary of the assassination of the Jesuits of the University of Central America might not know the significance of the life and work of Ignacio Ellacuría, the Salvadoran military’s target the night of November 16, 1989. In Love That Produces Hope, Kevin Burke and Robert Lassalle-Klein introduce the reader to Ellacuría through a collection of rich essays, including some authored by the most prominent names in liberation theology and political theology. This collection of essays is particularly valuable for the English-speaking world since there is relatively little written by or about Ellacuría that is available in English. In addition, the comprehensive bibliography is a great asset for anyone wanting to encounter the thought of Ellacuría through primary sources.
The introduction examines the personal and intellectual biography of Ellacuría through the impact of six significant figures in his life. Then the book is divided into two parts: the first examines “the sources of Ellacuría’s thought,” and the second examines “the reception of Ellarcuría’s thought.” In the first part of the book, Jon Sobrino and Gustavo Gutiérrez provide powerful essays that examine the relationship between his life in service to the poor and his thought. Antonio González and Robert Lassalle-Klein contribute articles that focus specifically on the impact of Xavier Zubiri and of the historical reality of El Salvador on his philosophy of liberation. Martin Maier provides an insightful essay that compares and contrasts the theologies and lives of Karl Rahner and Ellacuría, noting common theological roots in Ignatian spirituality and highlighting the impact of Rahner’s theology on that of Ellacuría. Further developing the comparison of Ignatian spirituality in Rahner and Ellacuría, Matthew Ashley also analyzes Ellacuría’s contribution to the understanding of the relationship between contemplation and action.
In the second part of the book, Ellacuría’s soteriology, ecclesiology, and ethics are brought into conversation with various interlocutors. Kevin Burke’s essay provides a rich presentation of Ellacuría’s understanding of “a salvation in and of history” (170), and it brings Ellacuría’s theology into conversation with the 1984 “Instruction on Certain Aspects of the ‘Theology of Liberation’” from the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Roger Haight’s essay examines Ellacuría’s “ecclesiology from below” and its relevance for other theologians developing this type of understanding of the church. Unlike these two essays, the remainder place greater emphasis on the context of reception than on the writing of Ellacuría. The essays by María Pilar Aquino and by Aquiline Tarimo and William O’Neill consider the reception of Ellacuría’s participation in the struggle for justice by Christian communities in Guatemala and Kenya respectively. The latter essay also engages philosophers as interlocutors regarding Ellacuría’s understanding of human rights. Gregory Baum’s essay examines the teachings of Medellin and Puebla so as to situate the life and work of Ellacuría in the ecclesial context of Latin America. Finally, Johann Baptist Metz brings Ellacuría’s life and work into conversation with his own work on political compassion.
The article that provides the most comprehensive portrayal of the life and thought of Ellacuría is also the one that could leave the reader with questions about Ellacuría’s understanding of violence. While Sobrino identifies Ellacuría’s definition of violence as “unjust use of physical force” (34), it is important to remember that Ellacuría did not limit himself to a univocal understanding of the term. In addition to this meaning which includes the moral evaluation of the use of force, he also used the term in a descriptive, but not evaluative, sense. When Sobrino refers to Ellacuría’s analysis of “the possible legitimacy and illegitimacy of violence as a response” (34) and to “shouldering the weight of unjust violence” (36), the term “violence” is descriptive, with the first case pointing to moral evaluation as a process and the second pointing to the outcome of such a process, as “unjust” modifies “violence.”
Because of the interdisciplinary nature of Ellacuría’s work, individuals interested in philosophy, theology, Ignatian spirituality, the Church in Latin America, or the identity of Catholic universities will all find essays of interest in this book. This scholarly work is a resource for graduate and undergraduate classes, as well as for campus ministers in Jesuit high schools and colleges who are preparing to take students to the Ignatian Family Teach-in.