Remembering the Rev. Dr. Gonzalo Castillo-Cardenas
Professor Emeritus the Rev. Dr. Gonzalo Castillo-Cardenas died May 6, 2018, in Dallas, Texas. Originally from Colombia, South America, he joined the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary faculty in 1975 as assistant professor of church and ministry; he retired as professor emeritus of church and society and third world studies in 2005. Prior to his appointment at the Seminary, he was involved in action-oriented research in Latin America.
"He has been a powerful witness for Christ—and for PTS, a community he loved."
Dr. Castillo-Cardenas’s major research aims consisted in exploring the ethics of liberation theology and the signs of renewal and creativity in Latin American Christianity, in “helping clarify the contribution and challenge of third-world Christianity” to the church in the United States, and in defining “the issues facing the church by global developments which are inextricably related to the problems of affluence and poverty, security, militarism, underdevelopment, and liberation.” He wrote his major publication in this field of study—Liberation Theology from Below—while serving as a professor at PTS.
In the classroom, Dr. Castillo-Cardenas sought to prepare critical and compassionate ministers of the gospel. He believed that “a global vision, sensitivity to the powerless, and the ability to hear the voice of the ‘little ones’ are gifts of the Spirit” but also that “these abilities can be nourished and developed through information and the analysis and interpretation of existing human relations between social groups and nations.” His teaching was oriented toward the accomplishment of that task.
A graduate of Cuba’s Seminario Evangélico de Teología (M.Div.) and Union Theological Seminary – New York (STM), Dr. Castillo-Cardenas received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1984. He was ordained to the ministry by the Presbyterian Church of Colombia in 1957 and received Union Theological Seminary’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1994.
In retirement, Dr. Castillo-Cardenas lived in Rockwall, Texas, where he was a member of First Presbyterian Church. His pastor there observed, “He has lived a long life of faithful service and has inspired many. He has been a powerful witness for Christ—and for PTS, a community he loved.”