Martins (Marquette Univ.) here derives an anthropology of suffering from Simone Weil’s syncretism of Plato and the suffering of Christ, combined with Latin American liberation theology, offering a philosophical/ethical framework to address social justice and health inequities. Paulo Freire’s pedagogical perspective, the irruption of the poor, drives an emphasis on the unique voice of the poor "from below" that is necessary to scholars and health care professionals as they engage the poor in a dialectical process of liberating education, essential to the social transformation of health care. The Catholic preferential option for the poor, with the non-poor as companions in their struggles, stresses listening to the poor, who are victims of social violence, here considered as experts in existential knowledge. Although primarily philosophical and theological in orientation, Martins's work is highly interdisciplinary, drawing on anthropology, bioethics, and public health disciplines. His text integrates biblical text, Roman Catholic church documents, the "health as a human right versus health as commodity" debate, and the role of grassroots Catholic church organizations as agents of health care and sociopolitical transformation. In his final chapter Martins addresses the application of this multifaceted framework to practical problems of health care delivery, challenging his readers to implementation. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, faculty, and professionals.
"His monograph’s main distinction and contribution is that it urges theological bioethicists to encounter and engage, to dialogue with and, especially, listen to the poor regarding justice in health care."