WCC praises life and work of José Miguez Bonino
04 July 2012
A tribute published by the World Council of Churches (WCC) expresses deep admiration for the life and work of renowned liberation theologian José Míguez Bonino, who passed away on 1 July in the city of Tandil, Buenos Aires, at the age of 88.
“We honour at his death a man of great impact and inspiration for the WCC,” said Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC. Tveit said that Míguez had a “significant influence on my own personal ecumenical journey and ecumenical theological positions.”
Miguez, a Methodist pastor from Argentina, worked tirelessly for the ecumenical movement, human rights and social change. His contribution to liberation theology had a strong impact in Latin America and beyond.
Miguez served as a WCC president from 1975 and 1983, and was one of the editors of the Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement.
Born on 5 March 1924 in the city of Santa Fe, Míguez obtained a doctorate degree in theology in 1959 from Union Theological Seminary in New York. He was a professor and director of the Instituto Superior Evangélico de Estudios Teológicos (ISEDET).
In a memorial message, Tveit stated that Míguez has a “very special place in the work of integrating contextual theology and liberation theology into ecumenical theology, and for the coherence and integrity of the WCC.”
Míguez was the only Latin American protestant to be invited as an observer at the Second Vatican Council, where he had personal encounters with Pope John XXIII and his successor Pope Paul VI. He was also invited as an observer to the Second Latin American Episcopal Conference in Medellín, Colombia, in 1968.
Míguez’s contribution to ecumenism
Míguez authored several books, including Doing Theology in a Revolutionary Situation (1975), Toward a Christian Political Ethics (1983) and Faces of Latin American Protestantism (1997). His theological reflections were featured in numerous publications and journals. His work was translated into different languages and remains part of the curriculum for several seminaries and universities, including both Protestant and Catholic.
As a theologian, Míguez made a significant contribution to the traditions of Protestant, Reformed and Evangelical churches in Latin America. Yet his ecumenical engagement had a wider outreach across the Methodist community to which he belonged. His work for the dialogue promoting social justice won him special acclaim.
Through his academic works, Míguez did a comprehensive reading of the Latin American reality, and he combined bold ideas with a a gracious manner. Speaking on how Míguez inspired many, Dr Walter Altmann, moderator of the WCC said, “Míguez Bonino inspired a whole generation of ministers, theologians and ecumenists throughout Latin America and beyond.”
“Míguez combined convincingly theological research and spirituality, social commitment and witness to the gospel. His clear theological stances and sensitivity to the beliefs and convictions of others was much respected in all confessional families. His legacy will continue to inspire us,” added Altmann.
Míguez was married to Naomi Nieuwenhuize and had three children.
This news release is being co-produced with the Agencia Latinoamericana & Caribeña de Comunicación.