Thursday, February 18, 2010
Sr. Teresa Forcades: Online Chat on Diario de Ibiza
Sr. Teresa Forcades participated in an online chat today organized by Diario de Ibiza in Mallorca where she is due to give a presentation tonight. We are not going to translate the entire exchange which took place in both Spanish and Catalan, but here are some of Sr. Teresa's responses:
On the relationship of science and faith:
It's very important to recognize the independence between the areas of faith and science. Both are limited. Faith is not useful for answering scientific questions and it is not the role of science to give existential answers.
Faith and reason are not incompatible as can be demonstrated from the fact that most explorers, inventors and scientists in ancient times and currently, such as Einstein, have been believers.
On the relationship of prayer and intellectual work:
The best known Benedictine motto is "Ora et Labora." In my monastery, we devote 5 hours a day to prayer and 6 hours to work, which can be manual or intellectual. I believe that prayer, as a space of freedom and interior silence, helps greatly in intellectual work, creativity, and inner freedom.
On the Catholic Church's position on homosexuality:
Barely one century ago the Catholic Church considered slavery to be compatible with Christian doctrine. We have evolved on this, thanks be to God. I hope that on the subject of homosexuality we will also evolve.
On the Catholic Church's position on AIDS:
Although there have been attempts to argue that AIDS is a punishment from God, this has never been nor is now the official position of the Catholic Church. As I said earlier, science and faith are complementary fields, but their autonomy must be respected. The study of AIDS is a scientific subject. The moral assessment of promiscuity is another matter.
On the use of condoms:
I disagree with preventing the use of condoms.
On sex, religion, and celibacy:
I think the radical nature of the Gospel is perfectly compatible with living with a partner and enjoying sexuality. I also think it's very important that people who have no partner not feel "amputated" because of this or let themselves be convinced by society that their personal happiness depends on "catching" someone.
I believe that celibacy freely lived is not only compatible with human nature, but you can experience it fully as well as you can living with a partner. For me, the most important thing is not to reduce the possibility of fulfillment to one of these 2 options. (Sr. Teresa also refers the questioner to her 2009 video "El plaer en perspectiva teològica"; transcript in Catalan)
I suppose that yes, there would be fewer (when asked whether allowing clergy to marry would decrease the number of sex abuse scandals). What I find most interesting about celibate life is the communal aspect. The fact of stating that you don't have to live in a couple to be fulfilled as a person.
On the use of veils by women:
Most of the discussions that I know about on this subject concern veils that cover part of the face or keep girls from being able to exercise in school. I don't believe that a cloth that covers the head, regardless of who wears it, is any problem. With respect to veils that cover part of the face, the ideal would be that no one should feel obliged to wear them nor get upset because someone else wears them.
On fans and critics:
My perception is that the criticisms have not been personal nor primarily because I am a nun, but above all because I have stated something that is against certain very powerful political and economic interests.
What matters to me is that the appraoches and arguments arouse interest, since at the personal level we all have our limitations and it's easy to be a fan of someone we don't live with.
On the H1N1 influenza A vaccine:
I believe it is essential to create the necessary legal framework to prevent any vaccine from being mandated and I think the open investigation at this time in the Council of Europe can help in this regard. The most important step to avoid a declaration of a pandemic such as we experienced this year is to decouple it from economic interests.
In the influenza A video, I explain the case of Baxter pharmaceutical company that sent material contaminated with the deadly avian flu virus to 16 European laboratories with the label that it was material for the vaccine. This information is public because I obtained it from the minutes of the parliamentary session of the Austrian Parliament with the Minister of Health of that country. In these minutes there is talk about the 72 kilos of contaminated material and an inquiry is requested. The investigation was initiated and has been adjourned without further explanation. I believe this issue should be thoroughly investigated. The drugmaker Baxter has admitted that it sent contaminated material but has denied that it was to make vaccines. As regards the alleged manufacturing of the 2009 H1N1 virus, I rely on the study of Professor Adrian Gibbs in the 'Journal of General Virology'.
On the pharmaceutical industry:
I observe a tendency in large enterprises to privatize profits and socialize losses. We have seen it in banks and now also with the drug companies. The deficit has not been borne by private enterprise, but by the public purse.
(in response to a question about drug company reps): My professional practice has been in public and private hospitals. In the public ones, there was no room in my work schedule to attend to representatives, so that if I did, it would have taken away from time I should be devoting to patients. By responding this way, I got all the representatives off my back and I was lucky that the secretary at the reception desk understood this too.
We can't trust WHO as long as it is over 50% financed by the companies that would benefit from its decisions. (when challenged on this assertion, Sr. Teresa referred the viewer to Wolfgang Wodarg's Web site)
On the human papillomavirus vaccine:
An article appeared recently in JAMA [Journal of the American Medical Association] on the side effects of the vaccine against the papillomavirus. These side effects include thromboembolism and over 20 deaths. It is wrong to promote this vaccine without talking about these possible side effects. Nor is it correct to minimize the effectiveness of the Pap smear every two years. The cases of cervical cancer occur in women who, for various reasons, have not had good access to preventive cytology. That's why the balance of risk/benefit of mass vaccination against papillomavirus falls against this vaccination. It is also true that this vaccine only protects against certain strains of the virus and it is not clear that these are the most prevalent ones in Spain.
In response to whether being Catholic obligates one to courageously denounce injustice: