Saturday, November 21, 2015

Examination before the Witness to the Truth

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
November 22, 2015

John 18:33-37

Within the trial at which Jesus' execution will be decided, the gospel of John offers a surprising private dialogue between Pilate, a representative of the most powerful empire on Earth, and Jesus, a handcuffed inmate who appears as a witness to the truth.

Pilate apparently wants to know precisely the truth that lies in this strange character he has before his throne. "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus responds by exposing his truth in two fundamental assertions, very dear to the evangelist John.

"My kingdom is not of this world." Jesus isn't king in the way Pilate might imagine. He doesn't aim to occupy the throne of Israel or dispute Tiberius' imperial power. Jesus doesn't belong to this system in which the prefect from Rome moves, supported by injustice and lies. He doesn't lean on the force of weapons. He has a completely different base. His kingship comes from God's love for the world.

But then he adds something very important, "I am king...and I have come into the world to testify to the truth." He wants to exercise his kingship in this world, but in a surprising way. He hasn't come to rule like Tiberius but to be a "witness to the truth", introducing God's love and justice into human history.

The truth that Jesus brings with him isn't a theoretical doctrine. It's a call that can change people's lives. Jesus had said it, "If you remain in my will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Being faithful to the Gospel of Jesus is a unique experience since it leads to knowing a liberating truth, capable of making our life more human.

Jesus Christ is the only truth we Christians are allowed to live on.

Don't we in Jesus' Church need to make a collective examination of conscience before the "Witness to the Truth"? Dare to discern with humility what's true and what's false in our following of Jesus? Where there is liberating truth and where there are lies that enslave us? Don't we need to take steps towards greater levels of human gospel truth in our lives, our communities, and our institutions?

Christian convictions

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
November 15, 2015

Mark 13:24-32

The disciples that had known Jesus are gradually dying. Those who remain believed in him without having seen him. They celebrate his invisible presence in the Eucharists but when would they see his face full of life? When would their wish to meet him forever come true?

They go on remembering Jesus' words with love and faith. They were their food in those difficult times of persecution. But, when would they be able to verify the truth they contained? Wouldn't they be gradually forgotten? The years were passing and the much expected "Last Day" didn't come. What could they think?

The apocalyptic discourse we find in Mark seeks to offer some convictions that are to nourish their hope. We are not to understand them in a literal sense but try to discover the faith contained in these images and symbols that are so strange to us today.

First conviction: The fascinating history of Humanity will someday reach its end. The "sun" that signals the succession of the years will go dark. The "moon" that marks the rhythm of the months will no longer shine. There will be no days or nights; there will be no time. Moreover, "the stars will be falling from the sky", the distance between heaven and earth will be erased, there will no longer be space. This life isn't forever. Someday, definitive Life will come, without space or time. We will live in the Mystery of God.

Second conviction: Jesus will return and his followers will finally be able to see his face as they wish -- "they will see the Son of Man coming." The sun, the moon and the stars will go dark, but the world won't remain without light. Jesus will illuminate it forever, putting truth, justice and peace in human history so enslaved by abuse, injustice, and lies today.

Third conviction: Jesus will bring with him God's salvation. He is coming with the great saving power of the Father. He isn't appearing in a menacing way. The gospel writer avoids talking about judgement and condemnation here. Jesus is coming to "gather his elect," those who await his salvation with faith.

Fourth conviction: Jesus' words "will not pass away." They will not lose their saving power. They are to continue feeding the hope of his followers and the spirits of the poor. We aren't going towards nothingness and the void. God's embrace awaits us.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

José Oscar Beozzo: "Pact of the Catacombs, for a poor and servant Church"

By Luis Miguel Modino (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Periodista Digital
November 14, 2015

This Monday, November 16th, is the 50th anniversary of the Pact of the Catacombs, through which a group of bishops participating in Vatican II made a commitment to a poor and servant Church. That Pact was embodied in a celebration held in the Catacombs of St. Domitilla, which involved 42 bishops who were later joined by many others, up to about 500 signatories.

Brazilian theologian José Oscar Beozzo, a diocesan priest in the Diocese of Lins (Sao Paulo), a graduate school professor at ITESP (Instituto de Teología de São Paulo -- "Sao Paulo Theology Institute" per its acronym in Portuguese) and at the Centro Ecuménico de Servicios a la Evangelización y Educación Popular (CESEEP, per its acronym in Portuguese), a Latin American ecumenical center that seeks to train leaders in the working class sector, assisting unions and political parties, has recently published a book in which he has aimed to make a small study of this moment which he deems fundamental in the life of the Church, titled "Pacto das Catacumbas, por uma Igreja Servidora e Pobre" ["Pact of the Catacombs, for a poor and servant Church"].

Among other things in favor of Beozzo, the fact that he was among the group of theologians that prepared the Puebla Conference [of CELAM], although he wouldn't attend it later, and having participated actively as a theological adviser at the Conferences of Santo Domingo and Aparecida, as well as at the Synod of the Americas in 1997.

In this interview, he shows us the importance of the Pact of the Catacombs, its current implications, and what Liberation Theology has brought to the Latin American theological and social situation.

What was the Pact of the Catacombs and what did it mean for the Catholic Church?

It was a decision of the Council, that had already since the First Session formed a group called "Church of the Poor," to think about the whole issue of the Council starting from the poor, their questions and anxieties, realizing quickly that they weren't getting a lot of results because amid the many interventions of those attending, discussions and successive drafts of the various committees, it was very difficult to make any statement that would refer to what the group intended. In preparing the texts, there were many modifications, anecdotally on the last vote on Gaudium et Spes, twenty thousand proposed amendments came up.

The group felt that, on the one hand, there was some sympathy with what they said and they had been heard, but their proposals weren't getting embodied in the texts. In the last session, they thought of making a gesture, without it being something to blame the others, as a personal commitment. Being very respectful, they held a discreet celebration and then went to the rest, offering the possibility of signing the pact. With great surprise, they saw about 500 bishops join.

How many participated in the celebration?

Forty-two bishops were present.

When and where did that celebration take place?

On November 16, 1965 in the Catacombs of St. Domitilla, in the Basilica of the martyrs Nereus and Achilleus.

Of the bishops who participated in that celebration, is anyone still alive?

None of them is alive. In the list appear five Brazilians, six really, since one of them had been bishop for a week and was accompanying the Archbishop of Vitoria, to whom he was an auxiliary. That bishop, Monsignor Luis Fernandez, would later be the one to initiate the interchurch meetings of the Base Ecclesial Communities (BECs), which still continue to be held throughout Brazil. With him were Archbishop Antonio Batista Fragoso, bishop of Crateus, Monsignor Henrique Golland Trindade, archbishop of Botucatu, Monsignor Jose Alberto Lopes de Castro Pinto, auxiliary of Rio de Janeiro, Monsignor Francisco Austregésilo de Mesquita Filho, bishop of Afogados da Ingazeira, and Monsignor João Batista da Mota Alburquerque, archbishop of Vitoria.

Among the Spanish bishops, Monsignor Rafael González Moralejo, auxiliary bishop of Valencia from 1958 to 1969 and later bishop of Huelva from 1969 to 1993, was present.

Could we say that the Pact of the Catacombs is what Pope Francis intends when he states that he doesn't want bishop princes?

The Pact starts by saying, "Regarding housing, food and means of transportation and everything concerning these things, we will seek to live in accordance with the ordinary manner of our people." And it continues, "We renounce forever wealth and the appearance thereof, especially in clothing."

The idea of the signatories was not deviating from what the people have, or rather, what they don't have, and many of those bishops left their palaces and went to live in simple homes. Dom Helder gave Manguinhos Palace to be the seat of the diocesan ministries and went to live in the sacristy of a church on the outskirts, Igreja das Fronteiras. Monsignor Antonio Fragoso lived in a simple house in a working class neighborhood. And there were others who weren't there but assumed the same spirit, such as Monsignor Paulo Evaristo Arns in Sao Paulo, who sold the Episcopal Palace and destined [the proceeds] for buying 1,200 plots on the outskirts, where community centers were built, worship places for the base ecclesial communities, and went to live in a simple house too.

What they wanted to convey was that what belongs to the Church belongs to the poor and therefore, if the Church has lands, they must be distributed among the poor. Dom Helder did that in the so-called Operation Hope, through which he gave the lands of the Archdiocese of Recife to the farmers, giving them technical training, with the support of the Community of Taize, from France. These kinds of actions were repeated in different parts of Brazil, highlighting the idea that what belongs to the Church belongs to the poor.

What is the aim of your new book, recently published, that addresses the subject of the Pact of the Catacombs?

In some countries, such as Italy and Spain, the publisher Verbo Divino has published a book on that subject, translated into different languages. In Brazil, the text of the Pact was published in a five volume work that tells what happened at the Council, but isn't very accessible. What I've published is a little notebook that begins by explaining what the Pact of the Catacombs was.

About each of the 13 commitments at the time they were written, what the inspiration was was discussed, always taking some biblical texts as reference, which have been put in the published book, as well as texts of Vatican II that have to do with the choice they made. It came to be a conversation with Scripture, with the Council, and with the commitment of the bishops. At the end of the book the list of signatories appears as well as pictures of the catacombs and of a visit by Cardinal Montini to a favela in Rio de Janeiro with Dom Helder, one of the principal drafters of the Pact, despite not being present on the day of the Mass in the Catacombs as he had to participate in the committee that was creating the final draft of Gaudium et Spes. Images of Monsignor Enrique Angelelli, one of those who signed the pact and then was killed by the military in Argentina, also appear.

Why has the Church forgotten these different proposals so quickly?

It didn't forget, as there were bishops who took this so seriously that they decided to meet every year for ten days to pray, review what the Pact proposes and make decisions in accordance with the new situation, in a prophetic way.

This group remains alive in Latin America and it meets every year in Sao Paulo, with the attendance of Latin American bishops from various countries. At the beginning this group met in different countries, but since some were detained in Ecuador in 1976, the meetings have focused on the Brazilian city.

At the end of the day it's what happened in the Council, where the signatories of the Pact were a minority among the participants. Prophets are always a fraction; what's important is that they be able to drag others along as have [the late] Dom Tomás Balduíno, Dom Pedro Casaldáliga, Dom José María Pires, who, despite being few, dragged the Church in Brazil at a key moment, with a prophetic attitude, being architects of documents from their insight and gospel witness that were able to raise the awareness of all the bishops, or influence them, as happened at Medellin and more recently at Aparecida.

The ecclesial model has been changing little by little but is it possible, 50 years after the Council, with Pope Francis and his new ecclesial sensibilities, to come back again to the spirit of the Pact of the Catacombs in the Latin American Church?

I think many kept that spirit and when a seed is buried and it doesn't rain...But Pope Francis came so that it might rain and therefore, I hope that many of these seeds that have been dormant will now be reborn. In that sense, young people are appearing who are moving in this direction, like the young woman from Uruguay who commented to me that they're going to hold a vigil remembering the Pact and the martyrdom of the Jesuits in El Salvador. It's a propitious moment to launch all this again.

Has that Liberation Church, which has as one of its foundations the Pact of the Catacombs, died, as some say?

The Continental Congress of Theology, organized by the Liberation Church, is one proof of the contrary. Whoever says that, it's because they would like it to be so, since they've already killed it and buried it many times, but it's still alive, just like they killed and buried Jesus and He is living.

What does this Liberation Church bring to the Latin American situation?

I think that it keeps alive the idea that the glory of God is the life of the poor and the defense of life of the poor. What is happening with indigenous peoples, with those living on the periphery, with young blacks, is slaughter. I think you have to be on the side of life, but exposing the roots of that, since it's not enough to help the victims and we do need to understand why so many people continue to suffer in a system that has been getting worse since the sixties. It has become global, the mechanisms of domination have been internationalized and perfected, especially in the financial field.

That Church continues to have martyrs, like Sister Dorothy Stang, under new circumstances, such as lack of respect for nature, which shows a new side of the struggle for life, which is to preserve the environment. In this regard, Pope Francis will have the gift of arousing new commitment among people who were already fighting but thought they were alone.

The Continental Congress of Theology also shows we aren't alone, that there are many people working in many countries and that it's important to meet, like the councils in the Church, to renew our faith and commitment.

Is the spirit of the Pact of the Catacombs the basic spirit of the Council, that didn't manage to develop afterwards?

We should note a few things. Lumen Gentium made some fundamental changes, defining the Church as the People of God. But in Lumen Gentium, in number 8, it says that just as Jesus became poor, the Church must become poor; as He served, the Church must serve. It's a small text, that failed to make Lumen Gentium start there, but in Medellin, the text on the Church speaks of poverty in the Church, as appears in number 14, which would amount to the concretization of Lumen Gentium in Medellin.

This shows that the Latin American Church welcomed the gist of the Pact of the Catacombs with the option for the poor, rethinking the Church based on the poor, reiterating it at Puebla and showing as a novelty the idea that the poor evangelize us because they challenge the Church to be more faithful to the Gospel of Jesus.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Leonardo Boff: Letter of Support to Pope Francis

During the Second Continental Theology Congress that was held October 26-30, 2015 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, liberation theologian Leonardo Boff drafted a letter of support for Pope Francis which was co-signed, according to Boff's blog where the original Portuguese version of the letter appears, by about 300 of the conference participants. The full text of the letter in English follows:

Dear Pope Francis:

Many of us in Latin America, the Caribbean, and in other parts of the world are following with concern the opposition and attacks against you by a conservative but powerful minority in and outside the Church. Perplexed, we have witnessed something unheard of in recent centuries -- a stand taken by some cardinals against your way of conducting the Synod and, most of all, the universal Church.

A strictly personal letter addressed to you was leaked to the press, as happened with your encyclical Laudato Si', in clear violation of the principles of ethical journalism.

Such groups posit a return to the model of Church of the past, conceived more as a closed fortress than as "a field hospital always open to welcome those who knock at her doors," a Church that should "seek to welcome humankind today not with closed doors, which would betray herself and her mission, and that instead of being a bridge, would become a barrier." These were your brave words.

The pastoral attitude of the kind of Church proposed in your speeches and in your symbolic gestures, is characterized by warm love, by a living encounter between people and with Christ present among us, by mercy without limits, by the "revolution of tenderness," and by pastoral conversion. This implies that the pastor has a "sheep smell" because he lives with them and accompanies them along the way.

We regret that the most such groups do is say "no." We remind our brothers of the most obvious things in Jesus' message. He didn't come to say "no." On the contrary, he came to say "yes." Paul in the Second Letter to the Corinthians reminds us that "the Son of God was always 'yes,' because all of God's promises are 'yes' in Jesus." (2 Cor. 1:20)

In the Gospel of John, Jesus states explicitly, "If anyone comes to me, I will not send them away." (Jn. 6:37) It could be a prostitute, a leper, a fearful theologian like Nicodemus - he welcomed everyone with love and mercy.

The basic characteristic of the God of Jesus, "Abba," is His limitless mercy (Lk. 6:36) and His preferential love for the poor, the sick, and sinners (Lk. 5:32, 6:21). Rather than founding a new religion with the pious faithful, Jesus came to teach us to live and carry out the central message of the Kingdom of God whose properties are love, compassion, forgiveness, solidarity, hunger and thirst for justice, and the joy of everyone feeling like the beloved sons and daughters of God.

The attempts to delegitimize your way of being Bishop of Rome and Pope of the universal Church, being guided more by charity than by canon law, more by collegiality and cooperation than by the solitary exercise of power, will be in vain because nothing resists goodness and tenderness, of which you have given us a splendid example. From history, we learn that where power prevails, love disappears and mercy becomes extinct, core values of your preaching and of Jesus'.

In this context, given the new planetary phase of history and threats to the life-system and system-Earth boldly pointed out in your encyclical Laudato Si' on "care for our common home," we want to close ranks around you and show our full support for you and your ministry, your open pastoral vision of the Church and the charismatic manner through which you makes us feel like the Church is our spiritual home again. And there are many from other denominations and religions and in the secular world who support and admire you for your way of speaking and acting.

It is not insignificant that most Catholics live in the Americas, in Africa, and in Asia where one notes great vitality and creativity in dialogue with the different cultures, showing various faces of the same Church of Christ. The Catholic Church today is a Third World church since only 25% of Catholics live in Europe. The future of the Church is being decided in these regions where the Holy Spirit is blowing strongly.

The Catholic Church can not remain hostage to Western culture which is a regional culture, however great the merits that it has accumulated. It is necessary for it to de-westernize, opening up the process of globalization which favors the meeting of cultures and spiritual paths.

Dear Pope Francis: You share the fate of the Master and the Apostles who were also misunderstood, maligned and persecuted.

But we are calm because we know that you take such tribulations in the spirit of the Beatitudes. You bear them with humility. You ask forgiveness for the sins of the Church and follow in the footsteps of the Nazarene.

We want to be by your side, supporting you in your liberating gospel vision of the Church, giving you courage and inner strength to refresh for us, through words and gestures, the tradition of Jesus, made of love, mercy, compassion, intimacy with God and solidarity with suffering humanity.

Finally, dear Pope Francis, continue to show everyone that the gospel is good for all humankind, that the Christian message is an inspirational force in the "care for our common home," generating a bit of anticipation of an Earth reconciled with herself, with all human beings, with nature, and especially with the Father who has shown a Mother's traits of infinite goodness and tenderness. In the end, we can say together, "all is very good." (Gen. 1:31)

Photo: Leonardo Boff reads his proposed letter to participants in the Second Continental Theology Congress.

The Contrast

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
November 8, 2015

Mark 12:38-44

There is a total contrast between the two scenes. In the first, Jesus puts the people on guard against the scribes of the temple. Their religion is false -- they're using it to seek their own glory and exploit the weakest. They are not to admire them or follow their example. In the second, Jesus observes the gesture of a poor widow and calls his disciples. They can learn something from this woman that the scribes will never teach them -- total faith in God and boundless generosity.

Jesus' criticism of the scribes is harsh. Instead of guiding people towards God, seeking His glory, they are drawing the people's attention to themselves, seeking their own credit. They like to "go around in long robes" seeking people's greetings and bows. In the liturgy in the synagogues and at banquets, they seek "seats of honor" and "top places."

But there's something that undoubtedly hurts Jesus more than this fatuous and childish behavior of being gazed at, saluted and revered. While they put on an appearance of deep piety with their "long prayers" in public, they take advantage of their religious prestige to live at the expense of the widows, the weakest and most helpless beings in Israel according to biblical tradition.

Indeed, one of these widows will expose the corrupt religion of these religious leaders. Her gesture has gone unnoticed by everyone, but not by Jesus. The poor woman has only thrown into the temple treasury two small coins, but Jesus calls his disciples right away as it will be hard for them to find in the temple environment a more religious heart in solidarity with the needy.

This widow isn't seeking any rewards or prestige; she acts quietly and humbly. She doesn't think of exploiting anyone; on the contrary, she gives all she has because others might need it. According to Jesus, she has given more than anyone, since she isn't giving from her surplus but "all she has to live on."

Make no mistake. These simple people with large and generous hearts who know how to love unreservedly, are the best we have in the Church. They're the ones who make the world more humane, who truly believe in God, who keep alive the spirit of Jesus amid other false and self-interested religious attitudes. From these people, we must learn to follow Jesus. They are the ones who are most like him.

Teresa Forcades: "Weil and Day help us make a commitment without losing freedom or self-criticism"

By Abraham Canales and José Luis Palacios (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Noticias Obreras
October 22, 2015

The passion for Dorothy Day and Simone Weil, two key women in social Christianity, led this physician, theologian and Benedictine nun to accept Editions HOAC's charge to write a no less exciting book -- Por amor a la justicia ["For Love of Justice"]. In this interview, we talk about these two Christian workers, so inspiring today.

What attracted you about these two great women you talk about in your book? What do you have in common with them?

I'm attracted by their courage, understood as the ability to be oneself and go against the current if necessary to defend one's own ideals and plans. Socially, culturally, ecclesiastically, it wasn't easy for a woman at the beginning of the 20th century to assert herself as the agent of her own life. Dorothy Day and Simone Weil weren't afraid to be free. They both paid a high price for that; both show us that it was worth paying.

I live in the 21st century in much more favorable circumstances for women at the social as well as at the cultural and ecclesiastical level. But the challenge to be free still stands. Finding one's own way and doing it, as they did, from solidarity with marginalized people.

At one point in the book you acknowledge that, like Weil, your childhood was also marked by certain expectations of femininity that made you uncomfortable and limited you...Did you find in religious life what you longed for the most?

Yes, but I'm still looking. "What I most long for" has an open, transcendent structure. St. Augustine called it the "restless heart" -- "Thou hast made us for thyself, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee." I recognize in myself a yearning for the Absolute that cannot be resolved in time and space. In monastic life, I've found a space and a community turned towards this unattainable Absolute that is at the same time "more intimate to me than I am to myself." I'm quoting St. Augustine again.

Weil is perhaps more intellectual and Day more of an activist, although both were inspired and heartened by their experience of the Christian God. Are there followers of these two "schools" within Christianity today?

Pedro Casaldàliga, emeritus bishop of the Brazilian diocese of Sao Felix de Araguaia, although being a bishop and, therefore, a pastor, has an original, thoughtful and profound style that reminds me of Weil, while Oscar Romero would be more like Day. The parish priests of Entrevías and Joan Chittister, the American Benedictine nun known for her books on spirituality, are also more like Day. It's clear that the Church needs both charisms.

How was Weil influenced by her contact with the YCW ["Young Christian Workers"]?

Weil met the YCW in Marseille and was impressed by their authenticity. She said it was the only place where the young worker was valued as a person, beyond party or union slogans and beyond any manipulation. Valued for their individuality, fragile and precious in God's eyes. Weil was disillusioned with her political experience and was surprised to find in the YCW an organization with thousands of members that hadn't lost its soul.

Before being Catholic, they were very actively engaged with the struggles of their time. What did this deep spirituality bring to their commitment and how did their previous commitment influence the living out of their spirituality?

The encounter with Jesus is an outright turning point for both of them. Their previous experiences are encompassed in what for them means having found a meaning to life. Both find themselves loved unconditionally in Jesus and this inner conviction, which they experience as a gift, is the secret of their strength. At the same time, their commitment to social justice and workers' struggles before their conversion, allowed them to sense the world of revolutionary syndicalism as their own, and friendships were born there that probably wouldn't have been possible for them if they had been Christian believers from the beginning. Weil and Day lived between two worlds -- the workers' struggle and the Christian community -- that unfortunately have often viewed one another as enemies. They integrated them and lived them from their faithfulness to the gospel.

Why is work so important in the lives of these two women? What is shared and different in the views they had of the world of work?

Work involves personal fulfillment, discovering that I can transform the world outside me through my intelligence and my ability to plan, and it involves recognizing and accepting the inevitable resistance that the outside world will exert to maintain its inertia and not let itself be transformed. Manual labor is the best school of life. Day learned from an early age the value of effort and work well done by assuming responsibility for housework and then she spent her whole life embodying her ideals of justice in the bodily care of marginalized people -- washing them, feeding them, accompanying them in times of despair or when they were intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, healing their wounds. Weil temporarily substituted working as an unskilled industrial worker for her chair in Philosophy. Both realized the vacuum that limiting their experience to the mental side generated in people; they realized the therapeutic and spiritual value of manual labor.

The experience of the Christian God, the experience of Jesus as they lived it, inevitably led them to a public social commitment to justice. Is that now obvious in Christianity or do we still have a long way to go?

In the Church today, commitment to the poor and the pursuit of social privilege and the protection of the powerful of this world continue to coexist. It's a contradiction that smothers the Spirit. Francis of Assisi, from whom the current pope took his name, is still the best example -- his radical poverty, his humility and utmost simplicity have been more powerful in transforming history than all the powers of this world. In the dialogue with Islam, for example, the way that Francis opened remains more effective than wars and confrontations. Liberation theology has put the need to be consistent with the Gospel at the social and political level back on the table. Jesus already named the problem: to be a Christian, you should be ready for persecution. Easy to say, not so easy to put into practice.

The social justice perspective made them very critical of messianism and utopianism. Weil would be the first leftist intellectual to break with Soviet communism while Day would always be deeply critical of power and institutions. Aren't these very contemporary traits?

Both Weil and Day were eminently critical people, of themselves and of others. What makes them so appealing is that they combined criticism and healthy skepticism with radical commitment -- they were able to commit to the point of giving their lives without being fanatical, keeping their eyes open to their own shortcomings and contradictions and those of the projects with which they were involved. I think you could apply this slogan to them: We will make the revolution and then do it again. They are distance runners, mystics with open eyes. They can help us to relativize without being paralyzed today, make a commitment without losing inner freedom and self-criticism, knowing that there's no definitive homeland on this earth.

How was their relationship with the institutional Church? How did they preserve their freedom of conscience and action?

Day was baptized after her conversion, but she always rejected submission to the ecclesiastical authorities. Instead of submission, which she considered unworthy, she always sought a dialogue between equals, understanding and free cooperation and, when there was no other remedy, resistance. Her refusal to remove the adjective "Catholic" from the masthead of her newspaper as the Archbishop of New York ordered her to do after the newspaper supported a strike against the diocese, is well known. At the end, it was the Archbishop who had to give in. Weil was never baptized, since she rejected as contrary to the gospel, the Church practice of considering that unbaptized persons were excluded from paradise after death. She was a pioneer in that regard. Thirty years after her death, the Second Vatican Council ended up agreeing with her.

In the book, you address the major issues that these two women faced in a set of comparisons and differences. What is the advantage of this method for those who read it?

Interweaving their lives and thoughts was fundamental to me so as to flesh out the ideas and contrast them with the lives of these two women characterized by their consistency. The scope of their ideas cannot be understood without knowing their vital commitment.

You came to present yourself to preside the Generalitat...Was that anything like the experience of Weil, a French government collaborator in the Resistance until she chose to leave?

To remain true to my ideals, I wasn't a candidate in the Catalan elections on September 27th, although I don't rule out the possibility of doing so later. I view my political involvement as a temporary contribution to popularizing Procés Constituent. Weil tried it and it didn't turn out well. For me, for the moment, it's not that it's going very well for me either, but if I fail, at least I can say I put my all into it.

Friday, October 16, 2015

It shall not be so among you

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
October 18, 2015

Mark 10:35-45

James and John, sons of Zebedee, separate from the group and approach Jesus alone. They don't need the others. They want to gain the most privileged positions and be first in Jesus' plan, such as they imagine it. Their request isn't an appeal but a ridiculous ambition: "We want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." They want Jesus to put them above the others.

Jesus seems surprised. "You do not know what you are asking." They haven't understood him at all. With great patience he invites them to ask themselves if they are capable of sharing his painful fate. When they realize what has happened, the other ten disciples are filled with indignation at James and John. They had the same aspirations too. Ambition divides them and sets them in opposition. Seeking self-interested honors and prominence always breaks up the communion of the Christian community. Today too. What could be more contrary to Jesus and his plan to serve the liberation of the people?

The act is so serious that Jesus "summons them" to make clear what attitude must always characterize his followers. They know too well how the Romans, "rulers of the people," and the "great ones" of the earth act -- they tyrannize people, make them submit, and make everyone feel the weight of their power. Well, "it shall not be so among you."

Among his followers, everything is to be different: "Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all." Greatness isn't measured by the power one has, the rank one occupies, or the titles one holds. Whoever covets these things in Jesus' Church, doesn't make themselves greater but more insignificant and ridiculous. Actually, it's a hindrance to promoting the lifestyle desired by the Crucified One. They lack a basic feature to be a follower of Jesus.

In the Church, we are all to be servants. We are to place ourselves in the Christian community not on top, based on superiority, self-interested power or prominence, but below, based on helpfulness, service and aid to others. Our example is Jesus. He never lived "to be served, but to serve." This is the best and most admirable summary of what he was -- service to all.