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“Suffering is that arduous, infrequent opening without reservations to the anomalous that resides within us, to that inexhaustible heteronomy that constitutes us and from which we try to escape by seeking shelter in intolerance for what is different, in submission to dogma, through servitude to the similar” (Kovadloff, 2008, p. 11).
This article addresses the theme of suffering in relation to the capacity for agency by examining the experiences of a parish priest who played a key role in the emergence of Christian Base Communities in the central-western region of Mexico, particularly on the southern periphery of Guadalajara, Jalisco, during the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s. Padre Juan’s involvement led him to promote political and organizational process grounded in reclaiming “the preferential option for the poor.” Christian Base Communities in Guadalajara functioned as catalysts of a diverse range of collective actions, while also serving as venues for ongoing conflict between conservative and progressive clergy responding to the proposal of a Church “incarnated in social reality” put forth by the Second Vatican Council. Padre Juan’s adherence to this alternative movement has come with the consequences of persecution, exclusion, and punishment. His stances and practices have resulted in continual conflict with the Church hierarchy, placing him in a position of suffering, but hopeful, interconnectedness with the religious institution.