Friday, September 17, 2010

To save life: women in power

Leonardo Boff's weekly columns are available in Spanish from Servicios Koinonia. Some of his older columns are available in English at

by Leonardo Boff (English translation by Rebel Girl)

There is a happy uniqueness in the current presidential contest in Brazil: the presence of two women -- Marina Silva and Dilma Rousseff. They are different, each with her own style, but both of unquestionable ethical depth and an understanding of politics as a virtue in the service of the common good and not as a technique of conquest and exercise of power, usually to the benefit of one's own vanity or elite interests that still prevail in the democracy we inherited.

They emerge at a special moment in the history of the country, humanity, and the planet Earth. If we think radically and we conclude, as have notable cosmologists and biologists, that the main subject of the actions is not ourselves, in a superficial anthropocentrism, but the Earth itself, understood as a living superorganism, full of purpose, Gaia and Great Mother, then we would say that it is the very Earth that through these two women is speaking to us, calling our attention and warning us. They are the Earth itself that is crying out, the Earth that feels and seeks a new equilibrium.

This new balance must happen predominantly through women and not men. The latter, after centuries of arrogance, are more interested in ensuring their business than in saving life and protecting the planet. The international meetings show us that they are ill prepared to deal with issues related to life and the preservation of the Common Home. At this crucial moment of grave danger, those historical subjects are invoked who, by their very nature, are better equipped to take on missions and actions relating to conservation and care for life. They are women and their partners, men who have integrated the virtues of the feminine in themselves. Evolution made them deeply linked to the generative and caring processes of life. They are the pastors of life and the guardian angels of the values derived from the dimension of the anima (the feminine in woman and man), which are caring, reverence, the ability to grasp messages and meanings in its slightest signals; sensitive to spiritual values such as self-giving, unconditional love, renunciation in favor of the other and openness to the Sacred.

Global feminism brought a fundamental indictment of the patriarchy that comes from the Neolithic era. Patriarchy gave rise to the institutions that still shape global societies, with the instrumental-analytical reason that separates humans and nature and that has led to the domination of the processes of nature in such a devastating way that today is manifested by global warming; it created the state and its bureaucracy, but organized according to the interests of men; it designed a style of education that reproduces and legitimizes patriarchal power; it organized armies and initiated war. It has affected other bodies, such as churches and religions whose gods or actors are almost all male. The "manifest destiny" of patriarchy is dominium mundi (world domination), with the aim to make us "lords and masters of nature" (Descartes).

Currently, men (males) have become victims of the "god complex", in the words of an eminent German psychoanalyst, K. Richter. They have assumed divine tasks: dominating nature and others, organizing all of life, conquering the outside world and reshaping humanity. All this has been simply too much. They feel like a "second-rate god" who succumbs to his own weight, especially because a killing machine has been planned, able to eradicate him from the face of the Earth.

Now the saving action of women is vital. We say that what the United Nations Fund for Population wrote some years ago is right: “The human race is plundering the Earth in an unsustainable manner. Giving women greater decision-making power on its future can save the planet from destruction.” Note that it does not say "more power to participate to women", something which men have conceded, but in a subordinate manner. Here it states: "decision-making power on the future." Women should make this decision, incorporating men into it, otherwise we would be jeopardizing our future.

This is the profound, I would say "providential", meaning of these two women candidates for the presidency of Brazil: Marina Silva and Dilma Rousseff.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Message of the XXX Congreso de Teología: "Jesus of Nazareth"

Se puede leer el mensaje en español aquí. English translation by Rebel Girl.

At the end of the sessions of the 30th Congress of Theology about Jesus of Nazareth, held from September 9 to 12, 2010, which had more participants than in recent years, we want to make public a summary of the ideas that have emerged from this congress:

1. Following the Council of Chalcedon (451), and as accepted by the various Christian faiths, we affirm the doctrine that Jesus Christ is "perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, truly God and truly man", so his two natures, divine and human, are united "without confusion." The historical Jesus and the Christ of faith are melded together.

2. From witness statements, from Christians of various denominations, committed in both the spiritual and the social dimension, it is asserted, and we assert the figure of Jesus in Christian experience, as the central object of faith and redeemer of humankind. We emphasized the full validity and relevance of the figure of Jesus.

3. To the question Jesus asked of his disciples, "Who do you say I am?", Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant believers, in a show of active ecumenism, have expressed the dimension of faith in a liberating Jesus, a traveling companion, fully relevant for a world suffering from violence, discrimination, intolerance, fanaticism, abuse towards the most disadvantaged classes, hunger ... A Jesus often invisible but still close to those who call upon Him, a Jesus who left an incorruptible heritage: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid."

4. Women have played an important role, both by their presence and by women's interventions in various sessions of the Conference. Jesus maintained a friendship with women, a relationship in which the complicity and harmony that existed between them was evident; the capacity for dialogue and to live together in silence. The house at Bethany, with Martha and Mary, became a place of privacy and peace. Jesus of Nazareth opens a door of hope and offers security, respect and dignity to woman in the midst of a society that rejects her too often, and in which the organs of decision-making and power try to make her submit and turn her into an instrument of pleasure or service, reducing her to a subordinate level with respect to man; quite the opposite of the practice of stoning or the refusal to ordain women, cunningly deemed by the hierarchy a grave delict, on a par with pedophilia.

5. Young people have been active, also from the ecumenical perspective, at different times during the Congress, especially in the festive part and the roundtables. These young people live their faith in their places of work or study, working jointly on projects of witness and service, both in the education and social fields. They have also responded to the question "who is Jesus for me?" And given the difficulties of dialogue between generations, they have launched a challenge: It is more important to talk to young people than talk about young people. These are young people who are committed to faith beyond viewing religion as a mere social club.

6. The perspective of Jesus from other latitudes has not been lacking, as is traditional in these conferences: Africa, a continent at war, subject to exploitation at the service of multinationals, and Latin America, struggling mightily to get rid of the ruthless laws of the market at the service of the powerful. Jesus is presented as a path of liberation for the oppressed classes, announcing the Kingdom of God which, although a small seed, is affirmed against imperialism of all kinds; a reaffirmation of God's intervention in history to produce a profound transformation; a program to build an alternative society and contribute to the solution of social imbalances that exist between the first and third worlds.

7. Jesus' attitude of dialogue, friendly, peaceful and respectful towards dissidents, opponents and even enemies, is the alternative and the best antidote against the fundamentalism that is resurging violently and installing itself at the top of religions, the economy and politics. The voice of Jesus calls us not to forget interreligious dialogue as a means of approach and a way to resolve ideological conflicts.

8. We assert that hospitality is one of the fundamental attitudes of Jesus of Nazareth, one which radically questions the xenophobic and racist behavior of an important sector of the public and some European governments, which are expelling from their territories whole races and peoples.

9. From the 30th Congress of Theology, a challenge is launched to believers in Jesus: the time of silence is over. These are times of testimony, of commitment, of awakening the faith in Jesus of Nazareth, of following in His footsteps, of making our demands for service and solidarity with the most downtrodden, of helping to establish the Kingdom of God among us as a kingdom of justice, peace, freedom, equality and fraternity.

Madrid, September 12, 2010