Suffering in the world today, which dehumanizes people, demands that Christians turn to compassion, that they learn to "suffer with another," as the mark of their discipleship. O'Connell asks, "Who more than we, Christian citizens of the world's wealthiest nation, possess the moral imperative, the material and human resources, and the luxury of freedom from want necessary to alleviate the kind of suffering that happens at the hands of others?" She maintains that the answer lies in naming the signs of the times, understanding their causes, and devising effective responses.
After presenting a historical overview of the development of the concept of compassion, O'Connell turns to contemporary theologians Jon Sobrino and Johann Baptist Metz, philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum, and Martin Luther King, Jr., to better understand how compassion can alleviate massive and unjust suffering and how compassion offers a road map for a better future.
Maureen H. O'Connell is chair of the department of religion at La Salle University, where she is also associate professor of Christian Ethics. Dr. O'Connell taught for 8 years at Fordham University, and is author of If These Walls Could Talk: Community Muralism and the Beauty of Justice (The Liturgical Press) which won the College Theology Book of the Year Award and the Catholic Press Association’s first place for books in theology in 2012.