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.
Alexandre Martin's text is a complex work that boldly dives into the ramifications of a health care ethic that is authentically informed by a preferential option for the poor. Martins’s experience of growing up in Brazil, but earning his Ph.D. in the United States where he currently teaches, provides him with a unique perspective for writing on this topic.... This book is a necessary addition to other texts on Catholic health care ethics. To the best of my knowledge, this is only book in English that examines health care ethics through a liberationist lens. Though Martins is certainly inspired by the voices of the poor from the Latin American context, there is relevance for readers in English-speaking countries to assess their own context with fresh eyes. As a reviewer from the United States where health care is not a right, I was reminded how the voices of the poor—and particularly poor people of colour—have been omitted from the U.S. conversation on health care. Initially, the book’s great reliance on a French mystic seemed odd, but Weil’s rich understanding of suffering justifies the choice. This welcome book provides theological depth aimed mostly at an academic audience. The text could also serve as a wonderful resource for graduate or undergraduate courses on liberation theology or health care ethics.
Few books in the health care ethics or bioethics literature engage the theological underpinnings of these disciplines in as thorough a way as Alexandre Martin's The Cry of the Poor.... This book is an ambitious, well-researched project that succeeds in delivering an alternative research agenda for theologians and bioethicists interested in engaging in research and action for and with those bearing a disproportionate amount of suffering, disease, and death in our shared global community. The particular strengths of Martin's work lie in the research, interdisciplinary methodology, and emphasis on praxis as necessary for theological ethics and theological bioethics.”
Most interesting in Martins’ methodology is his incorporation of qualitative anthropological research as a part of his theological argument…. [A]ssert[s] a strong commitment to serving communities on the margins and advocate[s] for health care to see not only the whole person but the person’s social context.