Saturday, October 31, 2009

Benedictine nun highlights feminism within liberation theology

One of my regrets from my trip was that, while I made it to the beautiful area of Montserrat that Sr. Teresa Forcades calls home, I was too ill (bad cold? flu? who knows?) to try to walk down the mountain to the Monestir de Sant Benet from the main men's Monestir. But, according to this article, it would not have made a difference because Sr. Teresa was in Caracas this week, giving a presentation at an international conference on liberation theology. She also gave a new 2-part interview on H1N1 influenza (pt.1) and liberation theology (pt.2) in Spanish with Venezuelan TV.

Co-presenting on liberation theology with Sr. Teresa were economist Juan Guillermo Espinosa, former executive director of the Inter-American Development Bank and Rev. Fred Morris, Director for Latin American and Caribbean Relations of the National Council of Churches.

Espinosa argued that Pope Benedict XVI is growing closer to making the same arguments about capitalism and neoliberal economic policies that liberation theology has been making for the last thirty years. An interesting thought, but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a radical breakthrough.

Here is the article that summarizes Sr. Teresa's contribution which focused on feminism within liberation theology:

Benedictine nun highlights feminism within liberation theology
Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias

After a study in the city of Barcelona, Spain, which showed that women spend twice as much time at work as men and their wages amount to only half that of these, the Benedictine nun Teresa Forcades deepened her study of the elements of oppression with respect to sexual identity.

In 1997, Forcades joined the Monastery of Sant Benet, received a Ph.D. in medicine at the University of Barcelona and studied theology at Harvard, and she is in Caracas to participate in the International Ecumenical Meeting on "Liberation Theology in Changing Times" to be held at the Centro de Estudios Latinoamericanos Rómulo Gallegos (Celarg) starting this Thursday.

At this meeting, the Benedictine nun will offer a presentation called "The role of women in changing times", and noted, based on the Barcelona study, that liberation theology may have a feminist interest.

"The changing times, in this religious stream, could be marked by a deeper look at what have been, until now, these internal elements of oppression, that aspect of the subjectivity which we call identity: male, female, how we conceive of ourselves as subjects," she said.

Forcades stressed that she will delve into the subject of freedom in the gospel and anthropology, and also said that in the late 20th and early 21st centuries this supposed freedom has come into question and many people don't have a clear notion of this unyielding inner space.

"It's a space that can not be invaded from the outside, however much the structures can influence its expression. We must reclaim that space not only for women but for everyone," she said.

In this regard, she clarified that, within current liberation theology, that freedom in the interior space of the subject includes both sexual diversity and the indigenous worldview.

"The ritual of indigenous communities, which also did not have their space at the beginning, and what is called gender-diversity -- people with a homosexual sexual orientation, transsexuality -- would also be within this religious current," she said.

Teresa Forcades will speak this Thursday at 11:15 am, in Theater 2 of the Centro de Estudios Latinoamericanos Rómulo Gallegos.