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Assmann was born on 22 July 1933 in Venâncio Aires, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. He did his studies in philosophy at the Central Seminary of Saint Leopold (1951–1960) and theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome (1954–1958). Assmann also studied sociology at the Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany. Ordained priest, he received his doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
Back in Brazil, Assmann settled in Porto Alegre, where he was vicar of the parish of Our Lady of Montserrat and teacher at Viamão Seminary. During this period his work has developed around the Theology of Development through the Seminary magazine.
With the advent of the military regime in Brazil, Assmann went to Uruguay, then to Bolivia and Chile of Salvador Allende. During this period he developed his reflections on the theology of revolution. In 1973 he published Teologia desde la praxis de la Libertacion, which marked the transition to the Liberation Theology.
With the fall of Allende, Assman went to Costa Rica, where along with Franz Hinkelammert, developed his theological reflections on the relationship between theology and economics in the Department of Ecumenical Investigaciones (DEI), founded by both. This center would be one of the leading producers and trainers of Liberation Theology.
Assmann also helped found the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians (EATWOT) and the Brazilian Society of Theology and Religious Studies (SOTER).
Back to Brazil in the early 80s, he was Professor of Philosophy of Education and Communication at the Methodist University of Piracicaba.
His work has a strongly interdisciplinary and ecumenical character, transitioning between economics, social sciences, communication and pedagogy. His reflection was not focused on dogmatic questions, but from the practices of liberation. Assmann was one of the first theologians to use the categories of Social Sciences in theological discourse. He was also critical of the theological presuppositions of liberal capitalism and the market absolutism, or "idolatry of the market" which, in his view, requires the sacrifice of human lives. His life was dedicated to fighting poverty and social exclusion, calling the Church and society to take this fight.
Assmann died on 22 February 2008 in Piracicaba, São Paulo. The collection of his works (books and journals) was donated by his family to the Ecumenical Library Program Graduate in Sciences of Religion of the Methodist University of São Paulo (UMESP).
- Theology from the praxis of liberation (1973)
- Marx, K & Engels, F., On Religion (1979)
- A trilateral. A global capitalism do nova phase (1986)
- A I do market idolatry. Um ensaio on economics and theology. Petropolis: Vozes (1989)
- Clamor two poor and "racionalidade" econômica, São Paulo (1990)
- Challenges and fallacies. Ensaios on a edição conjuncture (1991)
- Review da à exclusão logic. Ensaios on economics and theology (1994)
- Reencantar to educação: rumo à sociedade aprendente. Petropolis: Vozes (2003)
- Competência and Solidary Sensibilidade: Educating for a Esperança, co-authorship em com Jung Mo Sung (2000)
- Curiosidade e prazer learn. (2004)
- Digitais Networks and metamorfoses do learn, co-authorship em com: Rosana Pereira Lopes, do Amaral Carvalho Rosemeire Delcin, Gilberto Canto de Souza e Getúlio Nunes (2005)
- Nós em Deus: Deus reign or not love happens solidário poor years, co-authoring em com Jung Mo Sung (2010)
- José Míguez Bonino: Theologie im Kontext der Befreiung. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1977.
- Jung Mo Sung: The Human Being as Subject. Defending the Victims. In: Ivan Petrella: Latin American Liberation Theology. The Next Generation. Orbis Books, New York 2005.
- Hugo Assmann, Jung Mo Sung: Competência e sensibilidade solidária. Educar para a esperança. 2. Auflage. Editora Vozes, Petrópolis 2001.