One fairly obvious difference between this paper and those you have heard so far is that liberation theology, whatever it means, is still being discussed, attacked, caricatured, and defended with great vehemence and passion. The theme does not possess the completeness and neatness that historians prefer. It sprawls and proliferates. The bibliography is immense. We have already reached the stage of the overarching survey. D. W. Ferm has provided a 150-page summary with a helpful ‘reader’ for the use of college students. Ferm’s survey includes African and Asian theologians as well as Latin Americans. I can understand his desire to include Archbishop-elect Desmond Tutu in South Africa and to provide some hints as to why President Marcos could be deposed in the Philippines. And there is indeed a body called the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians—its unfortunate acronym is EATWOT—which gives some substance to this universalizing claim. But I am going to confine myself to Latin America because it was there that the ‘option for the poor’ was first spoken about. The date was 1968. CELAM, the regional association of Latin American Bishops, met at Medellin in Colombia in August. Pope Paul VI was present, and was the first Pope to kiss the soil of Latin America. There was a feeling abroad that at the Second Vatican Council, which had ended three years before, an essentially European agenda concerned typically with ecumenism and Church structures (collegiality) had prevailed; the Council had yet to be ‘applied’ to the Latin American situation. One phrase, however, provided a stimulus and a starting-point. Gaudium etSpes, the pastoral constitution on the Church in the World of Today, begins with the ringing assertion that ‘the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this time, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these too are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties, of the followers of Christ’.