Saturday, September 25, 2010

Priest excommunicated for ordaining woman in Arizona

The Rev. Vernon Meyer (58), who had submitted his resignation to the bishop of Phoenix earlier this summer, became at least the fifth priest to be excommunicated from the church under Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted. He was not defrocked, which is a separate penalty. Fr. Meyer was penalized because of his participation in the ordination of Elaine Groppenbacher in Tempe, Ariz., last month.

Fr. Meyer was a longtime pastor and educator in the diocese. He most recently served at St. Patrick's Church in Scottsdale, Ariz. He founded the Arizona Center for Theological Studies, which offers religious-studies classes.

Meyer said he never doubted his vocation until Olmsted came to Phoenix. One of the bishop's initial actions was to order nine priests to recant their support of a statement supporting gay rights within churches. Meyer said he removed his name from the statement but began to question the bishop's actions.

Rev. Groppenbacher was not ordained in the Roman Catholic Church, which still does not allow women to become priests, but by Bishop Peter Hickman of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, one of several liberal Catholic offshoots in the Phoenix area. The ceremony took place in late August at Guardian Angels Catholic Community. Rev. Groppenbacher is the fourth woman to be ordained as a Catholic priest in this area.

On September 1st, Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted published a letter in The Catholic Sun about the ordination. Msgr. Olmsted wrote: "Actions such as these are extremely serious and carry with them profoundly harmful consequences for the salvation of the souls participating in this attempted ordination. To feign the conferral of the Sacrament of Holy Orders results in the penalty of excommunication. This penalty applies both to the person attempting the ordination and the person attempting to be ordained. The attempted ordination of a woman is a grave offense against a sacrament and the structure of the Church."

The prelate continued: "The Church’s position on the Sacrament of Holy Orders, of course, does not mean that women are of any less value or dignity than men...However, it is of paramount importance to recognize that the Catholic Church teaches that only a baptized man can be validly ordained to the ministerial priesthood. The Catholic priesthood, today as in ages past, mirrors the actions of Christ, who lived as a celibate male and chose to ordain only men...Please pray for all involved in this divisive, scandalous act against the Catholic Church."

None of the participants in the ordination ceremony appear particularly alarmed by Bishop Olmsted's words. Rev. Groppenbacher told the Arizona Republic that she no longer considered herself subject to the rules of the Roman Catholic Church and therefore could not be excommunicated. As for Fr. Meyer, he says he opened his letter of excommunication on the day he became pastor of Sun Lakes United Church of Christ.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Riches to Rags: "The Sexual Person", the Bishops and the Catholic Press Association

In 2008, a couple of well-established American theologians came out with a new book on the Catholic Church's teachings on human sexuality. Published by Georgetown University Press, The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology earned considerable critical accolades for its authors, Dr. Todd A. Salzman, chair of the Department of Theology at Creighton University, and Dr. Michael G. Lawler, a professor and dean emeritus in the same department. In its description of the work, Georgetown University Press says:

"Remaining firmly within the Catholic tradition, [Salzman and Lawler] contend that the church is being inconsistent in its teaching by adopting a dynamic, historically conscious anthropology and worldview on social ethics and the interpretation of scripture while adopting a static, classicist anthropology and worldview on sexual ethics...The Sexual Person draws historically, methodologically, and anthropologically from the best of Catholic tradition and provides a context for current theological debates between traditionalists and revisionists regarding marriage, cohabitation, homosexuality, reproductive technologies, and what it means to be human. This daring and potentially revolutionary book will be sure to provoke constructive dialogue among theologians, and between theologians and the Magisterium."

The Sexual Person received plaudits from other renowned theologians in the field such as Lisa Sowle Cahill, J. Donald Monan Professor of Theology, Boston College, John A. Coleman, SJ, Casassa Professor of Social Values, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, Edward C. Vacek, SJ, Department of Moral Theology, Weston Jesuit School of Theology, Paul Lauritzen, director, Program in Applied Ethics, John Carroll University, and Richard M. Gula,SS, The Franciscan School of Theology, Graduate Theological Union.

In 2009, the Catholic Press Association gave The Sexual Person a book award -- first place in its "Theology" category. In its award statement, CPA said: "For more than twenty-five years Roman Catholic moral theologians have struggled to speak and write candidly and clearly on controverted aspects of sexual ethics. The reasons are well known and frequently rehearsed. In this book by Todd Salzman and Michael Lawler, serious Catholics have an honest and forthright presentation of the complex and challenging background to many of the most perplexing questions of sexual morality in our time. Framing their study around a clear and consistent Lonerganian hermeneutic, the authors guide us with breathtaking frankness through marital morality, cohabitation, and homosexuality. This work is a tour de force."

"The best of Catholic tradition", "a tour de force"...that was then. No sooner had the book come out, the two theologians found themselves in hot water with the Catholic Church hierarchy, particularly over the views they express on homosexuality. The USCCB Committee on Doctrine promptly received a request from both the current and former archbishops of Omaha (where Creighton is located) to review the work for doctrinal correctness.

For the record, the former archbishop of Omaha, Msgr. Elden Curtiss, had already tangled with the Creighton theologians. In 2007, the archdiocese cut ties with the university's Center for Marriage and Family, a move instigated by the conservative Cardinal Newman Society. CNS claimed victory, saying that the severance occured "because director Michael Lawler, also Professor Emeritus of Catholic Theology at the Jesuit university, co-authored [with ethics instructor Gail Risch] an article in the June issue of U.S. Catholic magazine endorsing premarital sex and cohabitation for couples who plan to marry." "Lawler also opposed Catholic teaching in April 2006 when he and Todd Salzman, a Creighton theology professor, wrote in The Heythrop Journal that 'homosexual couples can engage in sexual acts that are natural, reasonable and therefore moral.'" Writing in the diocesan newspaper, Msgr. Curtiss effectively censured the theologians, saying: "In these articles, Professors Lawler and Salzman argue for the moral legitimacy of some homosexual acts. Their conclusion is in serious error, and cannot be considered authentic Catholic teaching." Creighton's Center for Marriage and Family was closed in 2009. Salzman and Risch are still on Creighton's faculty; Lawler retired in 2005 but the Department of Theology has named a lecture series in his honor.

This week, the bishops issued their ruling on The Sexual Person. The bishops concluded that the authors of The Sexual Person "base their arguments on a methodology that marks a radical departure from the Catholic theological tradition" and "reach a whole range of conclusions that are contrary to Catholic teaching." The Committee on Doctrine stated that "neither the methodology of The Sexual Person nor the conclusions that depart from authoritative Church teaching constitute authentic expressions of Catholic theology. Moreover, such conclusions, clearly in contradiction to the authentic teaching of the Church, cannot provide a true norm for moral action and in fact are harmful to one's moral and spiritual life."

The current archbishop of Omaha, Msgr. George Lucas, published the bishops' ruling prominently on the archdiocesan website along with a press release in which he states: "It is disappointing that Professors Salzman and Lawler have persisted in publishing material that is not consistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church...Professors Salzman and Lawler have departed in a serious way from sound Catholic teaching. Catholics are well advised not to be misled by them.”

Creighton University's president Rev. John Schlegel, SJ, issued a statement to the media affirming that the university is “fully committed to the Catholic tradition” and that the institution “accepts as authoritative the statement” of the bishops' conference. But, the statement added, Creighton “is nonetheless mindful of its obligation to honor the academic freedom of individual faculty members.” The Cardinal Newman Society, however, is not satisfied. They have sent a letter to Schlegel asking him to assert upfront that the university is "not defending the right of Professors Salzman and Lawler to dissent from Catholic teaching as University professors of theology."

Rebel Girl can only hope that Fr. Schlegel will ignore CNS's intent to intimidate his institution into abandoning its principles of academic freedom and that this renewed clumsy attempt at theological censorship will have its usual positive effect of stimulating interest in The Sexual Person and lead many more people to purchase the book, whether as a protest or merely to see for themselves what the fuss is about.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Strengthening the historic breakthrough made by the PT

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)

For me, the greatest significance of these elections is the consolidation of the breakthrough that Lula and the PT [Workers Party] established in Brazilian political history. They defeated the economic and financial elites and their ideological wing, the big corporate media. As you know, they always kept the people on the margins of citizenship, in the harsh language of our greatest mulatto historian Capistrano de Abreu, "castrated and bleeding, over and over again". The elites have been seated in power for almost 500 years and have organized the state so that their privileges have always been protected. Thus, according to World Bank data, they are the ones that have accumulated proportionally more in the world and are, politically and socially, among the most backward and insensitive. There are twenty thousand families that control roughly 46% of the national wealth, and 1% of them own 44% of all lands. No wonder we are among the most unequal countries in the world, which is to say, one of the most unjust and wicked on the planet.

Until the victory of a child of poverty, Lula, the big house [of the masters] and the senzala [slave quarters] were the hinges that supported the social world of the elites. The big house did not let the senzala discover that the wealth of the elites was made of their super-exploited labor, their blood, and their lives turned into fuel for the production process. Through business alliances, they shuffled the cards in different ways to always keep the same game, amusingly, repeating: "We make the revolution before the people do." The revolution was to change something so that everything would remain as before. Thus, they aborted the emergence of another historical subject of power, able to take the stage and initiate a modern and more inclusive time. However, against their will, networks of social movements of resistance and autonomy broke out, and that social power was channeled into political power to gain state power.

Scandal of scandals in the submissive minds aligned with the world powers: a worker, a "survivor of the great tribulation", a representative of popular culture, non-academically educated in the school of the Pharaohs, comes to central power and gives back to the people the feeling of dignity, historical force and being subject of a republican democracy, in which "public affairs", social questions, the abused life of the people has become central. In line with Gandhi, Lula said: "I did not come to manage, I came to care; I manage a business, I care for a living and suffering people." Unprecedented language that promoted a new era in Brazilian politics. "Zero Hunger", then "Bolsa Familia" ("The Family Purse"), "allocated credit", "Light for All", "My House, My Life," "family agriculture", "PROUNI", "Vocational Schools", among other social initiatives, let the society of the deprived experience what the economic and financial elites never allowed them to: a leap in quality of life. Millions went from misery to decent hard-working poverty, and from poverty to the middle class. All of society was mobilized for the better.

But this defeat inflicted on the exclusive and anti-people elite should be consolidated in this election by a convincing victory, so that a "definitive no return" is established and so that the latter are no longer ashamed to see the Brazilian people as they are and not as they wish they were. The long dawning has ended.

There were three visions of Brazil. First, it was seen from the beach: the Indians attending the invasion of their lands. Second, it was seen from the ships: the Portuguese "discovering/concealing" Brazil. Third, Brazil dared to look at itself and thus began the invention of the culturally and ethnically mixed republic we are today. Brazil also faced four tough invasions: colonization that decimated the indigenous and introduced slavery; the coming of new peoples, European immigrants, who replaced the indigenous and the slaves; the conservative substitution industrialization in the 1930s, which created a strong domestic market; and, finally, economic and financial globalization, including us as junior partners.

Given this tortured history, Brazil was resilient, i.e., it faced these visions and interferences, managing to jump over them and learn from its misfortunes. It is now reaping the benefits.

It is essential to defeat the reactionary forces that are hiding behind the opposition candidate. I do not judge this person -- that is something for God -- but what he represents as a social actor. Celso Furtado, our best thinker in economics, died leaving a warning, in his book titled Brasil, a construção interrompida (Brazil: Interrupted Construction -- 1993): "The question is whether we have a future as a nation that counts in human evolution or whether the forces that are bent on interrupting our historical process of forming a nation-state will prevail"(p. 35). They can not prevail. We are able to complete the construction of Brazil, defeating them through Lula and by the forces that will make Celso Furtado's dream and ours come true.

Pax Christi bishop calls for end of US-led war in Afghanistan

By Dennis Sadowski
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The American bishop who serves as president of Pax Christi USA has called for the end of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala of Los Angeles told a gathering of about 70 Pax Christi members and supporters Sept. 16 that the military path chosen by the United States has led to greater violence and less security for Afghan people.

"Despite all the claims by U.S. officials and the media, the situation in Afghanistan after nearly nine years of U.S.-led liberation is horrendous," Bishop Zavala said.

He cited recent reports by the U.S. government, U.N. agencies and humanitarian organizations that pointed to rising violence, increased rates of civilian casualties and slowed development in Afghanistan since the surge at the end of 2009.

The bishop's comments came hours after Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' upbeat assessment that the Obama administration's surge strategy that saw an additional 30,000 American troops sent to the Central Asia nation to root out Taliban insurgents seemed to be working.

Among the reports to which Bishop Zavala referred was a U.S. government study that found American spending on humanitarian aid dropped from $545 million in 2002 to $80 million in 2010. A U.N. report on human development found that Afghanistan ranked 173rd out of 178 countries in 2004. In 2009, an updated report showed Afghanistan ranked 181st out of 182 countries, he said.

"Contrary to any claims of success in Afghanistan, these statistics reveal a deteriorating situation for ordinary Afghans and undermine the argument that the continued presence of the U.S. military is vital to security and development there," Bishop Zavala said.

Bishop Zavala called U.S. actions that stress a military response rather than diplomacy and increased humanitarian aid for schools, economic development, infrastructure improvements and rebuilding destroyed communities "misguided and counterproductive."

"The war must be brought to an end," Bishop Zavala said to applause.

"Nine years into this war, a clear and achievable objective has still not been identified," he said. "The increase in troop levels has increased the number of casualties. The militarization of humanitarian and development aid has turned critical civilian projects into military targets.

"The strategy of using aid as a weapon has failed to win hearts and minds and is instead fueling further violence. I say again, the war must be brought to an end and just as in Iraq, a timetable and date must be established for our withdrawal."

After his talk, Bishop Zavala told Catholic News Service that until the United States alters its approach on the delivery of aid to alleviating poverty rather than on winning the loyalty of Afghans the military campaign will not succeed.

He also called on U.S. citizens to look beyond media portrayals of the war and to learn about the impact of violence on normal Afghans.

"The reality is when you look at it nine years later, none of what we started this war for has happened," he said. "Are we more secure? Are we more fearful? There's more destruction and more poverty in Afghanistan."

Monday, September 20, 2010

XXX Congreso de Teología – Part 2

In addition to the presentations already discussed in Part 1, the 30th Theology Congress of the Asociación de Teólogos y Teólogas Juan XXIII featured roundtables on Jesus and youth and on the experience of Jesus from Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox perspectives. And there were three special events:

1. Tribute to Mons. Leonidas Proaño of Ecuador and Mons. Oscar Romero of El Salvador

Both of these great prelates are celebrating anniversaries this year and so a special homage was paid to them.

Nidia Arrobo (photo-center; Fr. Faus is at right) of the Fundación Pueblo Indio who had worked as an assistant to Mons. Proaño offered an overview of his life, his beliefs and the pastoral plan he developed for the indigenous community. She also showed a brief film clip on his life. As we have already gathered considerable biographical resources on Mons. Proaño in an earlier post, we will not repeat ourselves here. One interesting point emerged from Arrobo's remarks: a connection between the two prelates. During the civil war in El Salvador, Mons. Proaño opened the doors of his seminaries in Riobamba to Salvadoran seminarians who were fleeing persecution so that they might be able to continue their studies towards the priesthood.

Jon Sobrino was supposed to have offered reflections on Mons. Oscar Romero but his illness prevented him from doing so and his fellow Jesuit, José Ignacio González Faus read a prepared text in his stead. Among the points made:
  • Mons. Romero's life is a story of conversion. He was not always a progressive but was made so by the events in El Salvador that he witnessed, especially the death of Fr. Rutilio Grande. In Sobrino's words, he "converted to the God of the poor."
  • Romero came to see that God is greater than the Church and to see that the Body of Christ is the Church. Sobrino said that Romero would frequently consult the base communities about their opinion as to what actions he should take.
  • Romero viewed the victims of his country's civil war and repression as the crucified Christ and he viewed his role as archbishop as defending the victims.
2. The Concert

Participants at the theology conference were treated to a wonderful concert on Saturday night by singer-songwriter Luis Guitarra, accompanied by Regina Aguilar on vocals and Alberto Tostado on bass.

Guitarra mostly sang songs from his latest album, "Todo es de Todos", which was on sale for whatever price we chose to pay. "El precio lo pones tú" has been Guitarra's philosophy and business motto since he began selling CDs in 1996. The singer donates the proceeds from his CDs to a charitable foundation, Como Tú, Como Yo which has sponsored a variety of international relief projects.

Guitarra sings largely about peace and social justice and it impressed me that he didn't just come to play his gig but stayed for some of the theological conference as well. He taught us the title track -- simple words but with huge implications:

Si todo es de todos,
la deuda del mundo es una injusticia.

Si todo es de todos,
los que tienen tanto que no piden más.

Si todo es de todos,
¿por que hay tanta gente que no tiene nada?

Si todo es de todos,
las deudas eternas tendrán un final.

If everything is everyone's,
the world debt is an injustice.

If everything is everyone's,
let those who have so much not ask for more.

If everything is everyone's,
why are there so many who have nothing?

If everything is everyone's,
the eternal debts will come to an end.

After the concert, Guitarra was kind enough to autograph a couple of CDs for me and a friend. He took time to write personal messages. On mine, he wrote: "Let's hope you learn these songs and that they will help you unlearn whatever you need to in order to keep hope alive." The reference is to his song "Desaprender la Guerra" ("Unlearning War") which I mentioned that I particularly like.

3. The Mass

The congress closed with Mass on Sunday. It was celebrated by a priest dressed in civilian garb who identified himself as Padre Enrique Mateo, and concelebrated by a spectrum of conference participants who sat with him at the makeshift altar on the stage.

It differed significantly from your typical Sunday Mass and to me felt more like the Masses we celebrate in Catholic Worker houses except on a much larger scale. For those who speak Spanish and are interested in an itemized description of the deviations from normal liturgical procedure, Pablo Ginés, a conservative Catholic blogger who seems to have attended the Mass for the sole purpose of trashing it, provides all the details. Ginés omitted one important detail: At the moment of epiclesis, many of the 800 or so participants joined Padre Enrique in the words of consecration. This was not in the script; we just did it, assuming our priestly calling given at baptism.

The music was mostly unknown to me since it came from the Spanish rather than the Latin American base communities though I did know the Sanctus which was from the Salvadoran folk Mass.

Ginés criticizes the participants for failing to stand or kneel at appropriate times. Aside from the consideration that being in an auditorium made it impossible to engage in liturgical gymnastics with any degree of ease or decorum, I believe that a Mass should be judged by its fruits and in this case, the fruits were joy, a sense of community among those who participated and the collection of over 17,500 euros for solidarity work. This proves that in spite of their age and dwindling numbers, the Asociación is still a factor that the Church will have to reckon with for a while.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

XXX Congreso de Teología – Part 1

I am finally home from the 30th congress held last weekend in Madrid by the Asociación de Teólogos y Teólogas Juan XXIII, a group of Spanish progressive theologians. This year’s theme was simple: Jesus of Nazareth. Somewhere between 800 and 1,000 people attended (depending on who’s reporting; I don’t have an official count), reversing the steady decline since 2005 but substantially fewer than the 1,453 who attended the first conference in 1981. Most of the participants are Catholic and this progressive wing seems to be dying off or dropping out as the Church has been taken over by a geriatric hierarchy intent on reversing Vatican II and a younger generation of Catholics for whom “Medellin” is a drug cartel rather than a seminal moment cementing the Church’s preferential option for the poor. The aging of their membership seemed not to worry the leadership of the association. It does not exist to perpetuate itself and is prepared to die off gracefully if no longer needed.

Also very much in the minds and hearts of this year’s participants was the recent death of one of the beloved founders of the association, Jesuit theologian José María Diez-Alegría. He was remembered throughout the event and, fortuitously, a new book which has been published about the theologian’s life and works by Juan Antonio Delgado de la Rosa (photo above-center, in suit), Libertad de Conciencia y Derechos Humanos: Vida y Pensamiento de José María Diez-Alegría (ADG-N Libros, Valencia, 2010), was introduced.

Another traditional event at the theological congress is the announcement of the theme for next year’s Agenda Latinoamericana. The Agenda Latinoamericana was begun in 1992 in Nicaragua by José María Vigil and Dom Pedro Casaldaliga. It is an annual theological review on a theme announced each year by Casadaliga. The publication gathers articles from well-known theologians and is published in 23 countries and 8 different languages via the national Oscar Romero committees. The theme for 2011 will be “¿Qué Dios? ¿Qué religión?” (“Which God? Which faith?”). Casaldaliga wants us to come back to the God of Jesus and “proclaim our passion for the subversive peace of the Gospel.”

The Presentations

I was able to attend most of the presentations. The only exception was the one by Rafael Aguirre, a professor of Sacred Scripture at the University of Deusto, about the historical Jesus, which I missed due to a scheduling conflict.

1. Federico Mayor Zaragoza:

The former director general of UNESCO (photo- center, in suit) and president of the Fundación Cultura de Paz was supposed to speak about “Attitudes about Jesus of Nazareth in Spanish society.” Instead, he offered a sweeping discourse on God, quoting from many of the major theologian members of the association as well as prominent literary figures from Garcia Lorca to Saramago. He twice cautioned against anthropomorphizing God and defended fellow scientist Stephen Hawking’s recent controversial statement that God did not create the Universe. Mayor said that he could not support creationism and that God is so great that one did not need to – and could not – prove His existence scientifically.

Mayor identified three factors shaping religion today: a) planetary consciousness; b) the increased ability of all to communicate rapidly via electronic media; c) the increased participation of women. He urged participants to reject fanaticism and fear and embrace reflection and tolerance. Finally, he called for civic participation: “We cannot be spectators. We must be active citizens and not be silent,” Mayor said.

2. Clarisse Tchala Kabanga:

This Dominican nun (photo with a fellow religious from the Congo) and theologian from the Congo spoke about Jesus in Africa. She spoke about the inculturation of Jesus as an ancestor, guide and chief in the African tradition. Some of the challenges she spoke about of certain Christian sects who embrace a miracle-working Jesus who absolves the believer from any personal responsibility to participate in solving his or her problems resonated with me. We have many such sects in the Latino community in the United States and sometimes even charismatic Catholics can start to preach the “easy way out” path, a de-politicized Jesus. It is hard to proclaim and embrace a Christology of Liberation that passes through the Crucifixion.

With respect to other challenges facing Christians on her continent, Kabanga spoke of the importance of respectful dialogue in countries with multiple major faiths, the consolidation of participatory democracy and human rights, and increasing the participation of women both in the Church and in civil society, especially though access to education.

3. Mariola Lopez:

This Sacred Heart nun and theologian (photo - left) from Alicante, Spain, spoke about Jesus and women. Despite some participants wanting to draw her into a discussion about Mary Magdalene, Lopez shunned the more traditional feminist readings.

Instead, she spoke of the doors women opened for Jesus:
a) the door to corporality – women’s presence and caring for His body at His birth and death, the sinful woman who bathed His feet with her tears and dried them with her hair, etc… And in reciprocity, Jesus’ empowerment of the women with the hemorrhage (“Your faith has healed you”) and His embracing her in affiliation by calling her “daughter”, stating through His actions that women’s bodies were no longer impure.

b) the door to openness to other cultures – the Syro-Phoenician woman

c) the door to vulnerability – the lesson from the widow’s mite

d) the door to friendship – Mary and Martha. Their house at Bethany became a place of intimacy for Jesus. Jesus also learned His emphasis on hospitality, table service and foot washing from these women, not from the religious authorities of His time.

4. José Ignacio González Faus:

Faus, a Jesuit (photo - center) and emeritus professor of theology at the Facultad de Teología de Catalunya, spoke on “Following Jesus, yesterday and today.” He made the following points:

  • One cannot know Jesus without the Holy Spirit
  • The call to follow Jesus is both personal and collective. He drew a distinction between following and accompanying Jesus, emphasizing the latter and reminding us that the full name of the Jesuits is “The Company of Jesus”.
  • That the response is total – leaving all behind to follow Jesus. Faus said that included not only leaving behind materials things, but also emotional attachments (celibacy) and psychological ones (defense mechanisms, addictions, etc…)
  • The complete giving of oneself and embracing a life of solidarity with the poorest
  • That we have a new mission to be “fishers of men”
  • That we need to and will show signs – “See how they love one another” – and he added that in his opinion the institutional Church is not showing many signs right now that it is following Christ
  • We need to reach out especially to the poor and the sick, whom Jesus favored
  • We need to give freely. We are not the superiors or the saviors of anyone. We should not look for personal gain from following Christ
  • That following Jesus is communal. Faus pointed out that Jesus’ disciples were a diverse lot and suggested that dissent is normal and natural in a diverse community
  • We are following the Crucified One and are called to bear an infinite number of crosses as the Passion of Christ continues in the poor of the earth.
  • The Holy Spirit is who is most excluded from the Church today. If we stay “in the clouds”, the Holy Spirit is just “vapor”. It only becomes “spirit” when we go out into the streets.

5. Jon Sobrino:

The aged and frequently persecuted professor of theology from the UCA in San Salvador spoke on Jesus of Nazareth in Latin America. Sobrino, who is very frail, received a standing ovation from those assembled, who admire him both for his steadfast commitment to liberation theology and for being a witness to martyrdom – the martyrdom of Rutilio Grande, Mons. Oscar Romero, and his fellow UCA Jesuits, their housekeeper and the housekeeper’s daughter.

Sobrino said that a new Jesus irrupted for Latin America at Medellin. He said this irruption was preceded by an irruption of the poor and followed by an attempt to conceal this Jesus once again by the institutional Church. He said that we need this Jesus who leads to commitment and offers encouragement and hope. This Jesus leads to self-denial in a world of rampant consumerism. He leads us to take the path of liberation even knowing that this path leads to the Cross. This Jesus brings a passion for the poor and for justice. Real Christians remain at Jesus’ side in His Passion and they cannot remain unaffected by what is happening in the world.

Sobrino said that the Church has “betrayed Jesus”, manipulating His image as if they owned Him. He said that the Church has made the real Jesus disappear and pleaded that He be given back to us. Sobrino said that hope comes not only from Jesus’ death but from others who, out of love, are taking up His Cross. There is no “lite” liberation in Sobrino’s view.