top of page
Asian Institute of Research, Journal Publication, Journal Academics, Education Journal, Asian Institute
Asian Institute of Research, Journal Publication, Journal Academics, Education Journal, Asian Institute

Journal of Social and Political


ISSN 2615-3718 (Online)

ISSN 2621-5675 (Print)

asia insitute of research, journal of social and political sciences, jsp, aior, journal publication, humanities journal, social journa
asia insitute of research, journal of social and political sciences, jsp, aior, journal publication, humanities journal, social journa
asia insitute of research, journal of social and political sciences, jsp, aior, journal publication, humanities journal, social journa
asia insitute of research, journal of social and political sciences, jsp, aior, journal publication, humanities journal, social journa
open access

Published: 22 April 2020

Where is the Church in the Time of COVID-19 Pandemic: Preferring the Poor via G. Gutierrez’ “Liberation” and the Catholic Church’s Social Teaching in the Philippine Setting

Jabin J. Deguma, Melona C. Deguma, Jemima N. Tandag, Harlene Marie B. Acebes

Cebu Technological University, Philippines

journal of social and political sciences
pdf download

Download Full-Text Pdf



Pages: 363-374

Keywords: Preferential Option for the Poor, Liberation Theology, Catholic Church, Philippines, COVID-19


In a world where everything seems to be measured in reference to money and economic progress, the problem of poverty becomes an increasingly urgent concern. The experience of poverty is even becoming problematic when the world seemed to be unprepared for times of pandemic. COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the suffering of the poor more than just a health risk, especially in the Philippine setting. In such a situation, people wonder, where is the church? Most critics of the Catholic Church in the Philippines utilized the social media platform in crying out their denunciation to Catholic Church leaders. It is in this context that the paper explores the ‘Liberation Theology’ of Gustavo Gutiérrez in relation to the Catholic Church’s Social Teaching, whether the experience of poverty and crisis is part of the socio-spiritual responsibility of the church. To do this, the paper utilized the exploratory method of textual analysis. Through examining the text of extant literature on Gustavo Gutiérrez’s Liberation Theology and the Social Teachings of the Catholic Church, the paper constructed a holistic understanding of “Preferential Option for the Poor.” The arguments presented in this paper could serve as the basis for current praxis of the different catholic congregations in the Philippines in mitigating the experience of crisis among Filipino poor amid COVID-19 pandemic.


  1. Aina, R. (2017). Populorum Progressio's Vision in an Unequal World: A Theological Ethical Evaluation from the Global South. Journal of Moral Theology, 6(1), 96-111.

  2. Aljazeera. (2020, March). Developing countries face economic collapse in COVID-19 fight: UN. Retrieved from

  3. Arbeláez-Campillo, D. F., & Rojas-Bahamon, M. J. (2020). Pandemics in globalization times. Amazonia Investiga, 9(27), 3-4.

  4. Boer, R. (2017). Ontology, Plurality, and Roman Catholic Social Teaching: An Engagement with Liberation Theology. In Politics in Theology (pp. 101-128). Routledge.

  5. Brady, B. V. (2018). From Catholic Social Thought to Catholic Social Living: A Narrative of the Tradition. Journal of Catholic Social Thought, 15(2), 317-352.

  6. Buffel, O. (2015). Bringing the crucified down from the cross: Preferential option for the poor in the South African context of poverty. Missionalia, 43(3), 349-364.

  7. Cascella, M., Rajnik, M., Cuomo, A., Dulebohn, S. C., & Di Napoli, R. (2020). Features, evaluation and treatment coronavirus (COVID-19). In StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing.

  8. Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines News. (2020a, March). Archbishop pays tribute to healthcare workers: ‘You are the face of Jesus to us’. Retrieved from

  9. Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines News. (2020b, March). Archdiocese of Manila’s Pastoral Letter on COVID-19. Retrieved from

  10. Comber, J. A. (2015). Framing Oppression: A dialogue Between Gustavo Gutiérrez and Mark the Evangelist on the Kingdom, Oppressors, and the Oppressed. McMaster Journal of Theology and Ministry, 17, 48.

  11. Corrin, J. P. (2017). The English Catholic new left and liberation theology. Journal of Church and State, 59(1), 43-58.

  12. Cort, J. C. (2020). Christian Socialism: An Informal History, With a New Introduction by Gary Dorrien. Orbis books.

  13. Crux. (2020, March). Catholic social teaching panel says coronavirus pandemic ‘a moral test’. Retrieved from

  14. De Mey, P. (2018). Sharing in the threefold office of Christ, a different matter for laity and priests? The tria munera in Lumen Gentium, Presbyterorum Ordinis, Apostolicam Actuositatem and Ad Gentes. Annemarie C. Mayer (Hg.), the Letter and the Spirit. On the Forgotten Documents of Vatican II (BETL 297), Leuven, 155-180.

  15. Denkey, G. (2015). By The Time You Read This, We’ll All Be Dead: The failures of history and institutions regarding the 2013-2015 West African Ebola Pandemic.

  16. Eriksen, T. H. (2018). Globalization. In Handbook of Political Anthropology. Edward Elgar Publishing.

  17. Fastiggi, R. L. (2019). Human Equality and Non-discrimination in Light of Catholic Theology and Magisterial Teachings. Equality and Non-discrimination: Catholic Roots, Current Challenges, 1.

  18. Goodin, R. E. (2017). Duties of Charity, Duties of Justice. Political Studies, 65(2), 268-283.

  19. Gounopoulos, A. (2017). The common path of ontology and history: Orthodoxy and theology of liberation in dialogue. Mustard Seeds in the Public Square: Between and Beyond Theology, Philosophy, and Society, 165-89.

  20. Guo, Y. R., Cao, Q. D., Hong, Z. S., Tan, Y. Y., Chen, S. D., Jin, H. J., ... & Yan, Y. (2020). The origin, transmission and clinical therapies on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak–an update on the status. Military Medical Research, 7(1), 1-10.

  21. Heidt, M. R. (2017). Development, Nations, and" The Signs of the Times": The Historical Context of Populorum Progressio. Journal of Moral Theology, 6(1), 1-20.

  22. Hesselmans, M., & Teubner, J. (2017). A Theology of Liberation. CRC Press.

  23. Heymann, D. L., Chen, L., Takemi, K., Fidler, D. P., Tappero, J. W., Thomas, M. J., ... & Kalache, A. (2015). Global health security: the wider lessons from the West African Ebola virus disease epidemic. The Lancet, 385(9980), 1884-1901.

  24. Holden, W., Nadeau, K., & Porio, E. (2017). Ecological liberation theology: Faith-based approaches to poverty and climate change in the Philippines. Springer.

  25. Inquirer. (2020, March). Manila’s parishes to use facilities, transpo assets to help fight COVID-19. Retrieved from

  26. Jorgenson, A. G. (2019). Decolonizing and Indigenizing Liberation Theology. In Post-Christian Interreligious Liberation Theology (pp. 159-183). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

  27. Kleeb, S. L. (2015). Gustavo Gutiérrez’s Notion of “Liberation” and Marx’s Legacy of “Ruthless Criticism” (Doctoral dissertation).

  28. Knowles, S., & Servátka, M. (2015). Transaction costs, the opportunity cost of time and procrastination in charitable giving. Journal of public economics, 125, 54-63.

  29. Kotzé, M. (2019). Prophetic witness in the Eucharist: A response to Robert Vosloo's' Prophetic witness in weakness'. In die Skriflig, 53(4), 1-7.

  30. Lakoff, A. (2017). Unprepared: global health in a time of emergency. Univ of California Press.

  31. Lu, H., Stratton, C.W., Tang, Y.  (2020). Outbreak of pneumonia of unknown etiology in Wuhan China: the mystery and the miracle. J. Med. Virol., p. 25678.

  32. Lucas, F. B. (2018). The not-for-profit sector: a Roman Catholic view. In Research Handbook on Not-For-Profit Law. Edward Elgar Publishing.

  33. Luciani, R. (2018). Medellín Fifty Years Later: From Development to Liberation. Theological Studies, 79(3), 566-589.

  34. Madhav, N., Oppenheim, B., Gallivan, M., Mulembakani, P., Rubin, E., & Wolfe, N. (2017). Pandemics: risks, impacts, and mitigation. In Disease Control Priorities: Improving Health and Reducing Poverty. 3rd edition. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/the World Bank.

  35. Manea, G. S. (2016). A missed opportunity: the Romanian orthodox church and the Second Vatican Council. Historical Yearbook, 13(XIII), 125-140.

  36. Manila Times. (2020, March). Where is the church? Retrieved from

  37. Masuhay, E. P. (2020). Adversaries on Covid-19 Set Forth an Argument Onward To Educational Endeavor: Resulting To Develop a Modular Concept in the Learning Process. American International Journal of Social Science Research, 5(2), 26-37.

  38. Matthews, P. (2019). Being disabled and disability theology: insights from and for Catholic social teaching. Journal of Catholic Social Thought, 16(2), 295-317.

  39. McKenna, K. E. (2019). A concise guide to Catholic social teaching. Ave Maria Press.

  40. McLoughlin, E. (2017). Crime and Immorality in the Catholic Church. Pickle Partners Publishing.

  41. Mengès-Le Pape, C. (2019). Populorum Progressio: Development and Law?. In Law and Development (pp. 19-30). Springer, Singapore.

  42. Mich, M. L. K. (2016). A spirituality for rich and poor: Contemporary Catholic ideals for economic justice. In Poverty and Wealth in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (pp. 225-242). Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

  43. Mizumoto, K., Kagaya, K., Zarebski, A., & Chowell, G. (2020). Estimating the asymptomatic proportion of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases on board the Diamond Princess Cruise ship, Yokohama, Japan, 2020. Eurosurveillance, 25(10).

  44. Moe, D. T. (2016). Sin and Suffering: The Hermeneutics of Liberation Theology in Asia. Asia Journal of Theology, 30(2).

  45. Mong, A. (2017). A Tale of Two Theologians: Treatment of Third World Theologies. ISD LLC.

  46. Moran, K. A. (2017). Neither justice nor charity? Kant on ‘general injustice’. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 47(4), 477-498.

  47. Nagei, K. M. (2019). The Family at the Vatican Council Ii: An Area of Urgency. The Catholic Voyage: African Journal of Consecrated Life, 12(1).

  48. O'Brien, D. J., & Shannon, T. A. (Eds.). (2016). Catholic social thought: encyclicals and documents from Pope Leo XIII to Pope Francis. Orbis Books.

  49. Parmet, W. E., & Sinha, M. S. (2020). Covid-19-The Law and Limits of Quarantine. New England Journal of Medicine.

  50. Pfeil, M. (2018). Fifty years after Populorum Progressio: Understanding integral human development in light of integral ecology. Journal of Catholic Social Thought, 15(1), 5-17.

  51. Philippine News Agency. (2020, March). PH place under state of calamity due to COVID-19. Retrieved from

  52. Pope, S. J. (2015). A Step along the Way: Models of Christian Service. Orbis Books.

  53. Puggioni, R. (2016). Pope Francis, liberation theology, and social global justice: some elements for discussion from the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. Exchange, 45(3), 227-251.

  54. Pulido, J. (2016). An historian’s pilgrimage towards objectivity: Reconsidering the conventional interpretation of John Paul II and liberation theology.

  55. Pummer, T. (2016). Whether and where to give. Philosophy & Public Affairs, 44(1), 77-95.

  56. Regan, E. (2019). Catholic Social Teaching and Homelessness: The World Tribe of the Dispossessed. Journal of Vincentian Social Action, 4(1), 8.

  57. Remuzzi, A., & Remuzzi, G. (2020). COVID-19 and Italy: What next?. The Lancet.

  58. Richard, K. B. (2018). Education for the Realization of the Preferential Option for the Poor: Catholic Church Activities in Uasin-Gishu County, Kenya. British Journal of Education, 6(4), 84-108.

  59. Robeck, J. M. (2016). Towards a Pentecostal Theology of Praxis: A Study of Three Pentecostal Churches Partnering with ENLACE in El Salvador (Doctoral dissertation, The Claremont Graduate University).

  60. Rose, M. S. (2015). Goodbye, good men: How liberals brought corruption into the Catholic Church. Simon and Schuster.

  61. Roser, M., Ritchie, H., & Ortiz-Ospina, E. (2020). Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)–Statistics and Research. Our World in Data. Retrieved from

  62. Russell, B. (2018). Why I am not a Christian. Lulu Press, Inc.

  63. Sánchez, F., & Polga-Hecimovich, J. (2019). The Tools of State Counterreform under Post-Neoliberalism: Rafael Correa’s Ecuador. Journal of Latin American Studies, 51(2), 379-408.

  64. Sanders, B., & Communism, P. J. P. I. (2017). The urgency of a moral economy: Reflections on the 25th anniversary of Centesimus Annus.

  65. Schlag, M. (2017). The challenge to Catholic social thought posed by Pope Francis: His strong moral messages to business. Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture, 21(1), 40-63.

  66. Senander, A. (2015). Sharing Gaudium et Spes through Vocation of the Business Leader. New Theology Review, 28(1), 73-80.

  67. Shannahan, C. (2019). The Violence of Poverty: Theology and Activism in an “Age of Austerity”. Political Theology, 20(3), 243-261.

  68. Sikich, G. W. (2018). Potential Economic Consequences of a Pandemic.

  69. Sison, A. J. G., Ferrero, I., & Guitián, G. (2016). Human dignity and the dignity of work: Insights from Catholic social teaching. Business Ethics Quarterly, 26(4), 503-528.

  70. Smith, S. C. (2015). Ending global poverty: A guide to what works. St. Martin's Press.

  71. Sohrabi, C., Alsafi, Z., O’Neill, N., Khan, M., Kerwan, A., Al-Jabir, A., Chrstos, L., & Agha, R. (2020). World Health Organization declares global emergency: A review of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). International Journal of Surgery.

  72. Spieker, M., & Lutz, D. (2018). The Quiet Prophet: Benedict XVI and Catholic Social Teaching. Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture, 21(1), 64-82.

  73. Taylor, A. (2015). Solidarity: Obligations and expressions. Journal of Political Philosophy, 23(2), 128-145.

  74. Thompson, J. M. (2015). Introducing catholic social thought. Orbis Books.

  75. Tibur, H. E. L. I. (2016). Encountering God in the Face of the Poor According to Gustavo Gutierrez. 南山神学, (39), 159-179.

  76. Twomey, R. G. S. (2017). Pope John Paul II and the" Preferential Option for the Poor". Journal of Catholic Legal Studies, 45(2), 8.

  77. Union of Catholic Asian News. (2018, July). Cardinal Tagle reminds priests, nuns to live with poor. Retrieved from

  78. United Nations Development Programme. (2020, March). COVID-19: Looming crisis in developing countries threatens to devastate economies and ramps up inequality. Retrieved from

  79. United Nations. (2020, March). Shared responsibility, Global solidaritiy: responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19. Retrieved from

  80. Vatican News. (2020, April). COVID-19: EU Christian leaders call for unity and solidarity. Retrieved from

  81. Vellem, V. S. (2017). Un-thinking the West: The spirit of doing Black Theology of Liberation in decolonial times. HTS Theological Studies, 73(3), 1-9.

  82. Walatka, T. (2015). Church as Sacrament: Gutierrez and Sobrino as Interpreters of Lumen Gentium. Horizons, 42(1), 70-95.

  83. Waterman, A. M. C. (2016). Rerum Novarum in economic thought. Faith and Economics, 67, 29-56.

  84. White, E. D. (2015). “An’it Harm None, Do What Ye Will": A Historical Analysis of the Wiccan Rede. Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft, 10(2), 142-171.

  85. Wilder-Smith, A., & Freedman, D. O. (2020). Isolation, quarantine, and social distancing and community containment: pivotal role for old-style public health measures in the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak. Journal of travel medicine, 27(2), taaa020.

  86. Wiryadinata, H. (2018). An Evaluation of Liberation Theology in The Light Of Its Praxis. KURIOS (Jurnal Teologi dan Pendidikan Agama Kristen), 1(1), 1-10.

  87. World Health Organization. (2015). WHO global strategy on people-centred and integrated health services: interim report (No. WHO/HIS/SDS/2015.6). World Health Organization.

  88. Wright, Y. & Harman, L. (2020, March). Coronavirus is a Devastating Blow to Children in Poverty. Retrieved from

  89. Wu, Z., & McGoogan, J. M. (2020). Characteristics of and important lessons from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in China: summary of a report of 72 314 cases from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Jama.

  90. Zhou, F., Yu, T., Du, R., Fan, G., Liu, Y., Liu, Z., ... & Guan, L. (2020). Clinical course and risk factors for mortality of adult inpatients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: a retrospective cohort study. The Lancet.

bottom of page