Franz Hinkelammert: the passing of an indispensable thinker

Franz Hinkelammert (1931- 2023) passed away this Monday 17th of July in Costa Rica. Economist, philosopher, and liberation theologian. Born in Germany, he had been living and working in Latin America (Chile and Costa Rica) for more than thirty years. Dr. in Economy in the Free University of Berlin, was an Economics teacher in the DEI (Ecumenic Department of Investigation) in Costa Rica.

The DEI expressed in social media: “Hasta siempre Franz, dear friend, teacher and colleague! Endless thanks for your legacy that we’ll continue to honour towards building a more just world.”

Angel Luis Rivera Agosto, an executive at Global Ministries, remembers: “When we were designing the contours of the Faith, Economy, and Society Program at the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI), a group of sociologists, biblical scholars, and pastoral advisors honored me by accompanying me on that journey as the Advisory Team. They all worked with great creativity and accuracy in the biblical, theological, and pastoral analyses, seeking to prophetically discern the socio-economic, political, and cultural challenges of the continent, in connection with the Economic Justice Office of the World Council of Churches (WCC).

I must highlight that the light that illuminated the spirit, the balance, the approach to such complex issues as external debt, globalization, the return of the subject, life as the ultimate criterion of utopian analysis, and human praxis in the CLAI program was undoubtedly Franz J. Hinkelammert.”

The Latin American Biblical University mourns the passing of Franz Hinkelammert, “one of the most important thinkers in Latin America. Through his works, he has contributed and will continue to contribute to theological work and the struggle for life in our region. We celebrate his life and legacy alongside many generations of students, teachers, social activists, and political militants. We appreciate his contribution to this institution of learning and the fruit of his teaching and research, which continues to be present among us.”

Maria-Pilar Aquino emphasizes: “There are dead who never die, or who should never die. Franz Hinkelammert, my admired teacher and dear friend, passed away on July 16, 2023. We can only give thanks for his life and appreciate the great light he brought to this world. I love you dearly, as always. Certainly, Franz belongs to the era of the immortals.”

Meanwhile, the National Executive Committee of the Frente Amplio of Costa Rica mourns the passing of Hinkelammert. Franz was a critical theologian and economist, a committed advocate for social causes and the rights of all people, and the founder of the Ecumenical Department of Research (DEI). “On behalf of the Frente Amplio membership, we send our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and comrades in Liberation Theology.”

Likewise, the Ecumenical School of Religious Sciences at the National University in Costa Rica mourns his departure and “celebrates his life and contributions, which remain among us as unavoidable challenges to build a good life for all individuals and all peoples.”

“As human beings are reduced to self-interested and calculating individuals, their other aspect, which is the subject, the human being as a subject with needs, is suppressed. Although it may not disappear entirely, it will forever be repressed… Only in grassroots republics can the democracy of people be built. And it is then that the possibility of controlling the private bureaucracies of transnational companies arises and putting the economy at the service of human life and nature… Only then will the task of realising the common good be possible. This task which Marx summarised, by proposing as a categorical imperative the overthrow of all relationships in which human beings are humiliated, subjugated, abandoned, and despised.”

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