Original Research

Aspects of political theology in Thomas Merton’s spiritual autobiography

Iuliu-Marius Morariu
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 4 | a6842 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.6842 | © 2021 Iuliu-Marius Morariu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 May 2021 | Published: 18 August 2021

About the author(s)

Iuliu-Marius Morariu, Faculty of Orthodox Theology, Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania; Department of Dogmatics and Christian Ethics, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


An important personality of the Catholic space of the 20th century and, at the same time, of the ecumenical and the inter-religious, Thomas Merton (1915–1968) is one of the most important authors of spiritual autobiographies in the Christian space. Knowing this and the fact that from other points of view, his work has been investigated by different researchers from all around the world, we will try to present the aspects of the political theology which can be found in works such as: The Seven Storey Mountain (1948), The Sign of Jonas (1953), among others, which he wrote and which contain passages of spiritual autobiographies. These works emphasise aspects such as his attitude towards racism (a problem which he encountered in the America of the 1960s), war or Communism (because of the fact that before he studied at Columbia University, but also during this period, he also sympathised with the Communists). The author will therefore try to present some practical aspects of his works, and show how they can be used to create bridges between society and church; the answer he gives to the challenges of his time.

Contribution: The article presents the main aspects of political theology which can be found in Merton’s work and shows how keywords such as war, racism or Communism have been seen by him and the views he has of a potential attitude of the Church towards them.


Thomas Merton; political theology; spiritual autobiography; War; Communism


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