"Poverty is not a destiny, it's a condition. Poverty is not a misfortune, it's an injustice." This was the message given by Peruvian Liberation Theologian Gustavo Gutierrez OP at CAFOD's annual Pope Paul VI lecture held on Friday night. Often described as 'the voice of the poor' Father Gutierrez, speaking to an audience of CAFOD supporters challenged those who are passionate about tackling poverty to not just act as the 'voice' of the poor in fighting for social and economic justice, but to encourage the voices of the poor to be heard. "My intention is not to be the voice of the voiceless. the poor have a voice themselves and we must orientate our efforts and commitment in this way," he said. In his talk 'A Theology for Today: the option for the poor 2005' Gustavo Gutierrez quoted from from Saint Luke's Gospel simply stating: "There was a rich man and at his gate lay a poor person." He likened this with the reality of today's disparity between rich and poorer nations: "The poor today are not only next to the door of the rich countries they are paying to enter those countries. They are pushing (open the door) because of their poverty and the absence of work in their own countries, risking their lives and leaving their families, accepting exploitation. Certainly migration is a very big and deep phenomenon today and as human people and Christians we must deal with this question because to some extent now is only the beginning." Gustavo Gutierrez OP is a Peruvian priest who has spent many years working with the poor in the slums of Lima. As a priest in the Archdiocese of Lima, Father Gutierrez says that he has been fighting against the popular mentality of many of his parishioners who say to him, 'I was born poor, it is God's will.' He says that particularly women often say 'a woman is born to suffer'. "No-one" he says," is born to suffer". He said that the challenge of fighting injustice on behalf of the world's poor also comes with a commitment to ensure that they do not remain anonymous. "Poor people are anonymous, born and then die without leaving footprints in history. A goal of our commitment to the poor is to eliminate the anonymity of the poor." Father Gutierrez has written many books and articles denouncing those who exploit the poor. In his talk on Friday night he said: 'the ultimate analysis of poverty means death'. "What then gives you hope?" was the final question from a member of the audience, and Gustavo Gutierrez, answered: "To create reasons for hope, to have received love from parents, friends and people. A big human aspiration is to be loved for ourselves. Love then is a great source of hope." CAFOD will be issuing the full text of this lecture next January.
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