Not long ago, I was in a discussion in which some of the participants spoke of theology in a universal sense without qualifications. The conversation struck me because of the conspicuous absence of any sense of diversity in theological thought. By absence of diversity, here I mean the lack of racialized scholars and scholars from the Global South. Although none of those participating stated it explicitly, it was obvious to me that they were talking about Western European and Anglo North Atlantic expressions of theology. The participants seemed oblivious of the fact that since the 1960s there has been a rich proliferation of theological strands that ought to make it very difficult for anyone to speak about theology without acknowledging this wide array of theological expressions. After the conversation, I started thinking about the conditions within academic scholarship that prevent scholars from coming into contact with and learning from this marvelous theological gamut. In some circles, I have noticed, this great motley is often reduced to the handle of “contextual theologies.” In other contexts, people group these diverse strands of theology under the language of liberation theologies.
The realities that these theological schools represent spill out far beyond the specific nomenclature that the labels contextual and liberation seem to suggest. Their concerns, the challenges they confront, the social reality to which they are speaking, the actors involved, the communities from which they speak, and the theological insights they offer are irreducible to a single definition or category. To complicate matters more, each of these theological strands are internally diverse and correspond with multiple points of concern and perspectives. That is certainly true for Latina/o/x theological strands. The range of issues and concerns confronted by Latina/o/x scholars and the themes they have engaged over the years have multiplied exponentially. For some time now—as Fernando Segovia would say—we have ceased to think of ourselves as second-class theologians and scholars. At the same time, it is worth recognizing that—in the words of Ada María Isasi-Díaz—la lucha continúa/the struggle continues!
Notwithstanding our struggles, we have a voluminous legacy of great contributions, theological insights, and methodological approaches that now can be found across the academic theological spectrum. Our works and writings are now the subject of dissertations by a new generation of theological students from dominant cultural groups as well as those from racialized and minoritized groups, including our own Latinas/os/xs students. So, we find ourselves at a unique crossroads in which a new generation of Latina/o/x scholars are raising critical questions about previous theological contributions, and in the process are expanding our own contributions to the critical study of theology.
Three of the articles in this issue of Perspectivas put on display the back-and-forth dance between critically appreciating the theological legacy from previous generations on one hand and imagining ways forward that respond to our current reality on the other. Considering the recent discussions on synodality by Pope Francis, Amirah Orozco engages in a process of reclamation of the Encuentros for Hispanic Ministry as contextual expressions of synodality since the 1970s. Meanwhile, Neal Spadafora engages in a critical re-reading of Enrique Dussel’s treatment of Marx to highlight important resonances between Marxism and Latina/o/x theological thought. Lastly, Isabela Leonor Rosales invites us to creatively rethink how we engage indigenous communities as we move towards the creation of a decolonial theoretical framework. Rosales challenges us to go beyond the romanticization of indigenous identities and instead move towards “authentic solidarity” with these communities.
Our fourth and final article takes on Catholic moral teaching with regards to questions of sexual identity and its implications for members of the LGBTQIA+ communities. Taking the tragic attack at the Pulse Nightclub in Florida in June 2016 and other ethnographic studies as point of departure, Leonardo Mendoza proposes other avenues for rethinking Catholic moral teaching by engaging the works of Shawn Copeland and Ada María Isasi-Díaz. We are also pleased to include five book reviews (two of which have been translated also into Spanish) showcasing the continuing theological production by Latina/o/x scholars. The editorial team is delighted to offer to our readers this 2023 issue of Perspectivas.
Néstor Medina, Senior Editor