cover image Mary and Human Liberation

Mary and Human Liberation

Tissa Balasuriya. Trinity Press International, $32.95 (272pp) ISBN 978-1-56338-225-3

The main text of Balasuriya's work was published originally in 1990 by the Centre for Society and Religion in Sri Lanka. The current publication includes this original work as well as correspondence between the Vatican and the now excommunicated priest concerning his unorthodox views. After being ordained in Rome in 1952 and completing various studies at Oxford, Father Balasuriya returned to his native Sri Lanka where he became the founder and director of the Centre for Society and Religion and a founding member of the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians. Here, Balasuriya challenges traditional Western images of Mary as submissive, virginal and obedient Mother of God as he tries to draw an image of Mary that can be used and understood in Third World cultures to bring justice, especially to women and the impoverished. Using the text of Mary's Magnificat from the New Testament book of Luke (""He casts the mighty from their thrones and raises the lowly, he fills the starving with good things and sends the rich away empty... and scatters the proud-hearted...""), Balasuriya portrays Mary as a strong woman who was willing to sacrifice her son to bring to her society a radical message of religious, cultural and social liberation from injustice. Balasuriya does a fine job of tracing the development of Marian thought and raises important questions (""why in Marian apparitions does Mary never speak out against the injustices of the countries in which she appears?""), but he often pursues his main argument through generalities like ""all rich are evil and exploitative"" and ""all poor are victims."" In the end, this book reveals as much about Balasuriya as it does about Mary. (Nov.)