An interview last month with Sr. Teresa on TV3 (see video below) has conservative Catholics going nuts. This article, while being negative does a pretty good job of summarizing Sr. Teresa's remarks so we will translate most of it into English while leaving out the unsubstantiated allegations that the sister is a chavista (supporting liberation theology DOES NOT equal supporting Hugo Chávez in our book):
"God has placed the life of the fetus while it is not viable in the hands of its mother [...] Because of this intimate link of the mother and the child while it is not viable outside of her, the decision to abort is inseparable from the mother's self-determination, from her personal freedom. This intimate link between two lives means that the life of the child cannot be saved against the wishes of the mother without violating her liberty."
These statements come from Sister Teresa Forcades, who sees herself as "a Benedictine nun and feminist, an activist in habit", just as she was presented last June 16th in an interview on the "Singulars" program on TV3, where for almost an hour, among other questions, she expressed her opinions with respect to abortion and the morning after pill at the same time as she justified them [well, actually, her moral analysis is a little more refined than this author gives her credit for].
Forcades has already expressed similar opinions in other public appearances and has gone twice to Venezuela to participate in activities related to liberation theology and feminism, where she was well-received by the chavistas.
[Here the author has inserted a brief biographical sketch with a number of inaccuracies, so we have omitted translating it]
To give you an idea of the controversy generated by Teresa Forcades, it would be best to review some of her speeches and published articles.
The TV 3 Interview: "The life of the fetus in the hands of the mother"
In her interview with the program 'Singulars', Forcades supports making the morning after pill available to all women.
"The pill has side effects and obviously it cannot be taken casually. But yes, I think it is a possibility that I would wish for. That it would be known to all women and available to all," she states.
Then, the interviewer asks about abortion and the Benedictine sister, after talking about the problem of "pro-life vs. pro-choice" in the United States, says the following: "Here too I have sometimes heard the argument that abortion is like homicide."
"Now...if we allow that a fetus in formation is a person, then to be able to decide about the life of this person, by criteria of conscience for example, having to respect the conscience of the mother at the moment when she decides about the life of this fetus would mean having to respect her decision," she continues.
"And she is the only one because the life of the fetus depends on the life of the mother as long as it is not viable outside of her. This is the basis for stating it this way, anthropologically, biologically, legally and morally, for deciding on considering this case of the life of the fetus completely differently and therefore it cannot be compared to any other 'interhuman' case," she adds.
Forcades thinks that "this particularity of the mother and the fetus allows us to understand that God put the survival of the fetus in the hands of the mother as long as it isn't viable. That is respect from a theological and Catholic perspective."
As an example and to conclude this part of the interview she adds that "I would not respect the conscience of a person who decided to end another's life, but this is a particular case. And this particular case is that God Himself put the life in the hands of the mother and therefore it can be treated in a special way."
The journalist then comments that "you already know that the Spanish Bishops' Conference is not characterized by its openness...", to which she responds: "it's true, [...] but since for the moment I don't have any teaching or pastoral responsibility in the Church, then -- perhaps if I had one there would be greater repercussions to what I say -- but at the moment I am not speaking in the name of the Church, but from my own judgement and I have not had any difficulties."
The interviewer then says: "Teresa Forcades, fortunately, you are not alone. Look at one of the guests on 'Singulars'." And Hans Küng appears on a video, for whom Forcades says she has a lot of sympathy, and who states that "The woman is a problem for almost all religions."
"Sexuality is fundamental"
A few days after this interview, Forcades participated in the ‘Sopar Debat 2009’ (Supper Debate 2009) organized by Valors journal, in collaboration with Acció Catòlica Obrera, Cristianisme Segle XXI, Justícia i Pau del Maresme and Grup Tercer Món Mataró.
On this occasion, the nun said the following: "Sexuality is fundamental not only for reproduction but also for relating to each other."
With her unique way of seeing the world of pleasure, Forcades added that "what is good is from God, therefore what is pleasing is from God."
At another point in her speech, the Benedictine states that "Sexuality is fundamental not only for reproduction but also for relating to each other and also for learning God's will."
In Foc Nou: "God put the life of the fetus in the hands of its mother"
In her interview with TV3, Forcades mentions an article of hers published in the May 2009 religious news magazine Foc Nou.
In that article, the nun develops at length the details of the same theories on abortion referred to previously before the Catalan public television cameras.
Below we will show some of the phrases that stick out from that article:
"Respect for human life as an unmanipulable gift from God has exceptions in the Catholic tradition that don't weaken it as a principle."
"Reflecting on the moral implications of Catholic just war theory can help to avoid the pharasaism in the case of abortion of invoking respect for life in a rigid way as if there were no exceptions in Catholic moral tradition."
"People who want abortion not to be legal tend to express fear, emotion, and very intense visceral reactions, which in part are a justified exasperation with the moral relativism centered in the womb itself of our society which has up until now been both very pampered and very unsatisfied."
"God has placed the life of the fetus as long as it is not viable in the hands of its mother (in the womb of its mother) and He has linked its biological life with her spiritual life. We would do well to respect this primary relationship."
"As long as the fetus cannot live independently from the mother, she has the moral responsibility to decide its future, which is also hers [...] Respecting the decision of the mother is respecting the integrity of her moral conscience, including accepting that objectively she might make a mistake."
"To deem that the will of the mother when she decides to abort the child who cannot survive without her should be respected and cannot be penalized, does not mean that there should not be discussion on this issue in the Church and society."
And, to conclude the article: "Because of the intimate connection of the mother to the child while it is not viable outside of her, the decision to abort is inseperable from the mother's self-determination, from her personal freedom. This unique relationship between two lives means that the child's life cannot be saved against the mother's will without violating the mother's personal freedom."
On another topic, Teresa Forcades has visited Venezuela twice to speak about her ideas on liberation theology and feminism.
In November 2008, she was interviewed by writer and president of the Fundación Celarg, Roberto Hernández Montoya, on his program on Radio Nacional "Como ustedes pueden ver" ("As you can see").
In that interview the Benedictine talked about the subject of one of her books, "There are two absolutes: God and the poor", a phrase which she stated was from a Brazilian bishop [The phrase is from Msgr. Pedro Casaldáliga and should be "Everything is relative, except God and the poor". While Sr. Teresa has given talks on this topic, I find no evidence of a published book on the subject].
"One should be surprised at this statement, the kingdom of the "absolute" is one thing, not two, and if that absolute is God it would seem that there would be nothing else, but the idea is to not make that God into an idol, and that's what it is about", she said in the interview.
It is the second time Forcades has traveled to Venezuela. One year earlier she was present in a Liberation Theology meeting. As a feminist she stated then that her relationship with men is different because the issue of seduction is no longer there.
"There are codes between heterosexuals that have to do with seduction between men and women, but that is not bad, it usually happens in brief relationships, but each person has a world within themselves and will not look at people because they are men or women or professionals or young or old, that is without labels -- not to be reductionist, you have to look at them as unique people."
To which she added: "Celibacy doesn't mean that one can't fall in love, because celibacy doesn't mean amputating one part, it is experienced in a personal and different manner from sexuality, like the fidelity of a couple, which implies being satisfied with sexuality. There are more people who live without the sexual experience they would wish for than most people believe."
Forcadas continues by making a reference to liberation theology: "It is living according to the idea that God is love -- to add the adjective "liberation" is somewhat redundant -- it is what comes from Christianity, from the nucleus of the Biblical texts when God manifested Himself for the first time."
"Diversity is divine and forever, that means Trinity. Socialism is included in that, but as something that implies an egalitarian relationship among all," the Benedictine nun concludes.
For those who didn't like this post, sorry to offend but I plan to add more translations of articles and interviews with Sr. Teresa as soon as I can write them. This young theologian deserves a hearing.
MORE RESOURCES ABOUT SR. TERESA FORCADES:
- Wikipedia: Teresa Forcades (in Spanish)
- Teresa Forcades' Blog on Catalunya Religió (mostly in Catalan)
- "Dios en danza: Una Entrevista con Teresa Forcades", por Aracelli Caballero, Alandar No.280, Agosto 2011 (Spanish/English)
- Tesi Doctoral de la Teresa Forcades (news item in Catalan about Sr. Teresa's defense of her doctoral thesis in theology, 2008)
- "La jerarquia seria diferent si la majoria de veritat ho volguéssim": Entrevista a Teresa Forcades, by Marta Nin, Foc Nou, March 2008 (in Catalan)
- Teresa Forcades: "Una Persona Càlibe es pot enamorar", by Albert Garrido, El Periódico, 7/8/2007 (in Catalan)
- "L'Avortament: Entre els principis i la realtitat" by Teresa Forcades, Foc Nou, May 2009 (in Catalan)
- "Un aclariment sobre l’avortament" by Teresa Forcades, Foc Nou, October 2009 (in Catalan)
- "Estem davant d'una onada laïcista? by Teresa Forcades, Foc Nou, February 2007 (in Catalan)
- La diversificación de la espiritualidad by Teresa Forcades, Iglesia Viva, No. 222, Abril-Junio 2005 (in Spanish)
- Excerpts from Ser persona, avui by Teresa Forcades:
- La conversió del cor / Conversion of the heart
- Inseparable comunió / Inseparable Communion
- La semejanza de Dios / The Likeness of God
- La conversió del cor / Conversion of the heart
- En CiberFeminismo:
- Encuentro con Teresa Forcades, 10/25/2009 (in Spanish)
- Teresa Forcades I Vila: Sicut agnos inter lupos o la oveja que asusta a los lobos, 10/25/2009 (in Spanish)
- ¿Existe lo femenino en Dios?, 12/2/2008 (in Spanish)
- "Si no et coneixes a tu, Déu no et troba a casa, Déu te l'inventes": Conversa amb Teresa Forcades, Recerca, no. 44, 2009, pp. 14-28 (in Catalan)
- Teresa Forcades: "Hay que evitar el discurso de que todo está mal y resignarse", by Esther Vivas, El Mercurio Digital, 1/12/2010
- Entrevista a Teresa Forcada: "Dos cosas son absolutas: Dios y los pobres", YVKE Radio, 12/1/2008 (in Spanish)
- Interview with Sr. Teresa Forcades about H1N1 Influenza A, abortion, and dissent in the Church, RAC 1 Radio, 11/10/2009 (MP3 audio file in Catalan)
- Video Interview with Sr. Teresa Forcades in La Librería Mediática (in Spanish):
- Video: Teresa Forcades: "El que és bo és de Déu; el que és plaent també" (in Catalan)
- Video: Teresa Forcades, "El repte de donar sentir al cos: El paradigma científico mèdic Lexperiencia religiosa" Master en Estudios de la Libertad Femenina Barcelona, 2010 (in Catalan):
- "El Convidat" episode on Sr. Teresa Frocades and the Monestir San Benet, 2011 (in Catalan)
- Video: Hna. Teresa Forcades en el II Congreso Internacional Teresiano, sobre
"Camino de Perfección" Gertrudis de Helfta y Teresa de Jesús, cuerpo y subjetividad en la experiencia de Dios" (in Spanish), 2011
- Set of videos of Teresa Forcades speaking in Catalan on various themes:
- La separació com a divisió (Separation as division)
- La importància de la individualització (The importance of individualization)
- La por i l'educació (Fear and education)
- L'enamorament (Falling in love)
- L'espai compartit (Shared space)
- La manca de models de soledat positiva (The lack of models of positive solitude)
- L'individualisme (Individualism)
- La separació com a divisió (Separation as division)
- Interview with Sr. Teresa Forcades on TV3 (in Catalan):