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Towards a Theology of Citizenship as Public Theology in Brazil

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Liberation theology has become known worldwide for its "preferential option for the poor" and its prophetic voice against economic and political oppression. Since the end of the military regime in Brazil (1985) and the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989), theologians are trying to grapple with the continuously appalling poverty, exclusion, and marginalization of very large sectors of society within an ever more complex context and a diversity of theoretical positions. How to do theology meaningfully in a world that has moved beyond the clear-cut dualities (like oppressed-oppressor) of the 1960s and 1970s? How to use fruitfully the new space available for participation in the public sphere? In civil society, politics and education, "citizenship" has become the key term for a participatory democracy. Departing from new directions taken in liberation theology, considering their strengths and insufficiencies, this essay explores features of a theology of citizenship and seeks to link it up to the growing international debate on public theology, a term not commonly used in Brazil to date. Special attention is given to the development of public theology in South Africa as an inspiring example, in order to facilitate a fruitful South-South dialogue.

Affiliations: 1: Systematic Theology, Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue, Escola Superior de Teologia, Rua Amadeo Rossi, 467, Morro do Espelho, BR-93030-220 São Leopoldo/RS, Brazil


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