Tervuursevest 101, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
José Comblin was educated at the Catholic University of Louvain.
José Comblin with the Brazilian bishop Hélder Cámara.
(Speaking from his own experiences living among the very p...)
Speaking from his own experiences living among the very poor in Northeastern Brazil, Belgian liberation theologian Jose Comblin examines the effects of the presence of the Spirit in the world and the church. Comblin's theology of the Spirit and mission provides the first systematic treatment of the Holy Spirit from a liberation perspective and is significant in that it seeks to name the action of the Spirit in the lives of the poor, in the history of oppressed peoples.
José Comblin was educated at the Catholic University of Louvain. He earned a doctorate degree in 1950.
After being ordained to the priesthood in 1947 and his graduation in 1950, José Comblin worked at his alma mater. In 1958, in response to a request from Pope Pius XII, the priest came for the first time to Brazil. He initially settled in Campinas, in the interior of the state of Sao Paulo where he served as a professor and got close to the Juventud Obrera Católica (Young Catholic Workers).
Comblin stayed in Sao Paulo until 1962. Then, he went to Chile where he became a professor in the Dominican School of Theology to friars who distinguished themselves later as liberation theologians and in the resistance to the Brazilian dictatorship.
In 1965 Comblin received an invitation from Hélder Cámara to work as a professor in the Theological Institute of Recife and returned to Brazil. However, his controversial books and his work with the liberation theologian made him a target of the Brazilian military regime, who ordered his arrest and deportation in 1971.
For eight years, he lived as an exile in Chile where he helped create a rural seminary in Talca. Besides, in that period he joined Harvard University as a visiting professor. After the publication of a book about the ideology of national security in Chile, Comblin was expelled by the Augusto Pinochet regime in 1979. Comblin returned again to Brazil and till his death worked in the state of Paraíba, where he founded a rural seminary.
Comblin’s publications in English translation include The Holy Spirit and Liberation, in which he argues that spiritualism, having become divorced from the organized Church, can be revived through human kindness. "Comblin," wrote Gary A. Fun in Christian Century, "deserves appreciation for treating a neglected subject."
Another volume, Called for Freedom: The Changing Context of Liberation Theology, was described by America reviewer Roberto S. Goizueta as "a series of inspired and inspiring reflections on the current historical moment." Goizueta added that Called for Freedom "represents an important addition to the English-language literature." Gary MacEoin, meanwhile, wrote in National Catholic Reporter: "What is especially attractive about [Called for Freedom] is the author’s realism." He added that Comblin "helps us to understand the enormity of the world changes we are living and forces us to ask the practical question: ‘What is to be done?’"
Comblin was an advocate for the rights of the poor. He became one of the most influential exponents of the liberation theology movement that swept through the Roman Catholic Church in Latin America after the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65.
In The Church and the National Security State, published in 1972, Comblin's argument was not simply a protest against the practices of the military regimes in Chile, Brazil, and Argentina, (torture and "disappearance") but was a theological critique of the ideology they used as justification.
Quotations: "Jesus did not found a religion, he didn’t establish rites, teach doctrines," he said. Religion comes from human need and is a human creation. “When did religion enter Christianity? ... When Jesus became an object of worship."
José Comblin has been described as a shy, mild-mannered, slow of speech person who was steeped in scripture, history, and theology.
Quotes from others about the person
Phillip Berryman, a pastoral worker: "There is something paradoxical about Comblin’s life: writing dozens of books and hundreds of articles, while working with poor people in rural areas, who may be literate but are not his reading public. A key to the paradox is he believed that a major service that theology can provide to the church’s mission is to help strip away the accretions of history to reveal gospel in its simplicity, especially for the poor."