The World Cup of Theologians is a blog series that coincides with the 2014 World Cup Tournament. Each team in the round of 16 has an entry with the biography of a noteworthy theologian or leader from that same country.
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel (1931- )was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. An architect and sculptor by trade, he taught art and architecture for 25 years at various levels. In 1974, in the early days of Argentina’s Dirty War, Pérez Esquivel left his teaching post to lead a movement of human rights activists throughout South America who shared a commitment to nonviolence. A deeply committed Christian, his book is marvelously titled Christ in a Poncho: Witnesses to the Nonviolent Struggles in Latin America.
When awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980 for his work on behalf of human rights, he concluded his acceptance speech by quoting the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount. Here’s how the speech began:
With humility I stand before you to receive the high distinction that the Nobel Committee and the Parliament grant to those who have committed their lives on behalf of peace and to the pursuit of justice and solidarity among nations.
I would like to receive this award in the name of the people of Latin America and especially in the name of the poorest and smallest of my brothers and sisters, who are the most beloved children of God. I receive it in the name of my indigenous brothers and sisters, the peasants, workers, and young people, in the name of the thousands of members of religious orders and of men and women of goodwill, who renounce privileges to share the life and way of the poor, and who struggle to build a new society.
For a man like myself, a small voice for those who have no voice, who struggles so that the cry of the people may be heard in all its power, for one without any special identity except as a veritable Latin American man and as a Christian, – this is, without any doubt, the highest honour that I can receive: to be considered a servant of peace.