This talk by priest and liberation theologian, Fr. José Comblin, was given at the Iglesia Bautista de Viña del Mar, in Chile in November, 2009. A transcript prepared by the Movimiento Teologìas de la Liberaciòn-Chile, was reproduced last month on Atrio / Redes Cristianas. We now bring it to you in English.
Good afternoon. I will talk about the group that lives in the world of the poor, thus in the world of the marginalized. So that, I live there too, thanks be to God, who is in the working class world. We are not in the world of the privileged. I have been given the subject "Following Jesus."
Following Jesus. The Kingdom of God and Conversion.
Well ... What is that? Following Jesus? Let's start at the beginning. To define Jesus, one has to see what the "message" is. How He inaugurated His mission. He says here: "The Kingdom of God is already near." Conversion, because it's near. One has to enter. What does all this about the Kingdom of God and conversion mean?
The listeners clearly understood "conversion". It's total conversion, by overcoming, by the rejection of the entire Jewish system, the whole system. Now comes another way, that is, the way of the Jews ends, especially of the Jews as interpreted by their doctors, their priests, the elders, who instead of remaining faithful to the word of God, the message given to Abraham... No, the opposite ... since they created a whole system of promoting themselves, dominating the masses, and became a privileged class.
All in the name of religion as if it were the will of God. And the kingdom of God? Well ... it's directly linked to the first title, the title of Messiah, which Jesus himself probably at least accepted. He did not proclaim "I am the Messiah" -- at least in the synoptic gospels -- but others said it and He approved.
Messiah. The category of Messiah, once the Christian message entered the Greco-Roman world, disappeared. It disappeared. And in the history of theology in later centuries, it also disappeared. There was no Greek or Latin translation for that word. So we have to return to the world of Israel, what was understood and what Jesus meant when the title of Messiah was mentioned to Him.
Well, the Messiah is the one who will come to save His people from the forces that oppress them, dominate them, that divert them from the true path. So He is more than a prophet, because the "prophet announces" and the "Messiah fulfills." What the prophets had foretold, He accomplishes it. So He carries out a collective work, that is the transformation of His people, the transformation of Israel that has been diverted from its mission by false shepherds, false prophets. And the Messiah comes precisely to save this people and create a new world in them and through them.
The promise made to Abraham was directed to all humanity. All mankind would be the descendants, the children of Abraham. But then there was a contraction and in Jesus' time they thought that "only the Hebrew race, they are the only ones who are the children of Abraham." But the Messiah comes precisely to restore the true vocation of Israel, which was to save the world, all humanity. That is to say, Jesus understands the Messiah not as the savior of all the Jews, of this tiny people, but of all mankind, just as it was foretold in the promises made to Abraham.
So Jesus comes as Messiah, proclaiming and beginning the fulfillment. In other words, His life is already the kingdom of God. And with Him, the disciples who follow Him, there is the kingdom of God, there is the beginning of the new world, the world of justice, brotherhood, the world without oppression, without domination. It begins in a very simple, very humble way, but with the total conviction that from that small beginning, a new life, a new world really begins.
Therefore, Jesus' concern is not primarily individuals, but persons within a people. It's about rebuilding the people that had been founded, created, emancipated, remaking it according to the Father's will. So, following Jesus would be following the same path, that is, doing what He did. He is the reference. Because..so..it won't come by itself. But as the Messiah, He came to initiate that kingdom of God on this earth.
And for that, He needed collaborators, since His disciples were those who were going to disperse, to spread the kingdom of God to all peoples too. This is how this kingdom is and to follow is "to enter that way." That is, the way to act, the way to be, is to do what Jesus did, in other circumstances, other situations, but the spirit will be given to us so we will be able to interpret, to apply what Jesus did in the situation in which we are. So, what would He do if He were in my place? What would He do? This within the context of a people acting together as much as possible, unified. And what happens is ...
What is faith?
What is faith in Jesus Christ? Faith should not be transformed into a doctrine, as has often been done in the past. Because doctrine always remains superficial. In other words, it's an intellectual thing, a thought, but separated from the life of the people. And so, faith is precisely the basic and fundamental attitude, namely, "I think I'm able, with the strength of the spirit, to follow the path of Jesus in the world today." In other words, to do again what He did in today's world.
Faith is difficult. Why? Because most people believe they aren't capable. They believe it's not possible to act differently. They believe that the habits, the way of behaving throughout society, that that can't change, it is impossible to change. So it's impossible to be born into a new life! Most people in today's world, as in the past, have a deep feeling that "I can't," "I don't have the ability", "Who am I?." And the poorest ones, worse yet.
Of course the richer ones feel capable, but capable of what? Not of following the path of Christ, no! Of creating machines, of making money, they believe that. Those who are strong, powerful. But as for believing, do they believe they are able to apply the way of Jesus today? That's another thing. So, because that implies a conversion, another way of seeing the world. That is to say, escaping from the current structure of the world and seeking a transformation.
Economists usually argue that there's no other way, that the path that was installed in Chile is the only one possible, and it can't change. Because the laws of economics don't allow another formulation. This is the official doctrine and the doctrine of most rulers, the so-called representatives of the people, but who represent them very little. So, that's the only way possible!
The same, when they're fighting with the neighbors, when there's a problem, for example with Peru. There they believe ... that it's inevitable, it will always happen, it's not possible to change the situation, to create a true friendship. Because of the Chileans, say the Peruvians; because of the Peruvians, say the Chileans. All remember the Pacific War, and this is in the subconscious. Then peace. To achieve a real peace of brotherhood, sharing, that's hard to believe. And so, what Jesus asks is faith.
That we are able to transform this world, slowly, of course. Not like that, with a magic formula, that suddenly everything changes, no! ... but through constant and persistent, constant and persistent effort. It began two thousand years ago and we still see that much ... so much... is still required! So much to do! And we know one generation only does a small part. And a person in a generation, a small part, but one that may be important, that can be very significant, that can move people and precisely transform their way of life, their way of being, entering the way that Jesus showed. Faith.
Hope is not simply hope for the future of getting to heaven someday, of the afterlife. If so, it would not be necssary for Jesus to be able to show us the way. He shows the way to build a new world, not simply to save one's soul, which is much easier, but to build a new world. And of the one who is building it, then Jesus says: "That one is already in eternal life. Already there. He doesn't have to worry about later. The one who is building the Kingdom is already in life. He is already in the kingdom of God."
So, the aim of hope is the possibility of a new world, of a world of justice and brotherhood. It started with a small group, the first disciples of Jesus. But they had confidence and were growing, increasing, multiplying, in all the provinces of the Roman Empire. And then when they discovered that the world was bigger than they had thought before, well ... they went out to send the message to all parts, in all places. So, hoping, as Paul says, "against all hope."
Because according to appearances, really, to move the world, to move the current economy so that a world of justice appears, that seems so...so impossible that one gets discouraged and thinks like many Jews in Jesus' time, that in this world there's nothing to hope for. We are going to think about the future world, the world to come, not about the creation after the destruction, because there is nothing to be hoped for here.
It's a temptation, but it's not what Jesus came to say. It's precisely that ... start here, and whoever doesn't work here on earth to reestablish this new world, it's because he's out of hope, he's outside of the way. That is, walking according to all stages of human history -- such a complex, diverse history -- but walking according to this way of Jesus, the world will change. The world will enter the Father's plan, it will be able to. Each one called to have that hope, called to faith, called to hope. And what is the way, the method? What is the guiding principle? What should one do, concretely? That is to say, what did Jesus do and how did He do it?
Well, a word according to John, then says: "It's a life of love", that is, it wants to transform the world by the forces of love. That is, without arms, without political power, without financial power, without cultural power, with the power of love and testimony announcing that way. That's how Jesus does it.
First concern: the sick, because they are the ones who suffer most. At that time even more so, because according to the rules of Jewish theology of that time, the patient is a person punished for their sins. If you're sick, it's because you sinned. Hence Jesus came to deny this. "It's not because he sinned." But his presence is demanding, it asks for help. And with the help, if everyone is committed to saving, bringing life in the sick, it's a great sign. And Jesus cares about and heals the sick. Of course we will probably not do so many healings like that...so many miracles ... such strong ones, but you can not limit the possibilities. That is, service to the sick.
He also draws near to all those who were rejected. For example, publicans, tax collectors -- cursed. Prostitutes; cursed, sinful, rejected. All who did not observe the law. Because Jewish law was so complicated. Imagine ... Before eating, one had to wash one's hands. But where was the water? Ah ... the water was in a well located two kilometers, three, five kilometers away sometimes. The man who owned slaves sent slaves to fetch water. But the poor? The poor women, they looked for water needed for cooking, for immediate needs. But they couldn't afford to look for water to wash their hands. Today, the problem no longer exists, except in some regions of the world where the problem still persists.
And then, there Jesus draws near precisely to those who are cursed, excommunicated, treated like public sinners. And in Galilee, which was the poorest region, there were a lot of people like that; they didn't have the ability to observe all the laws. Well, the laws become a way of oppressing, of dominating and of justifying the powerful who have the opportunity to comply with those laws. Well, Jesus is going to give hope and raise all those who were rejected. He doesn't offer them weapons. He doesn't offer them money. He doesn't offer them a doctoral degree. He only offers the power of love that will multiply through them. And then, with their word of testimony, their life of generosity they will awaken a new life. Beginning with faith, they will then stimulate and awaken faith, faith in the way of Jesus, there in the world.
What is the path that Jesus then adopted for this mission, this way of acting? Well, He became poor. He was born poor. To be in the likeness of the majority of the population. He was born poor. He lived without property, without social distinction, social status, without having any political force, without having influence as the children of the great families have. Because of this, they can influence the direction the country, because they have the strength. And Jesus was born, lived, with no human power, no force of the kind that people usually understand as force.
And when He came to live here, He chose Galilee, which was the poorest province. It is true that in Galilee there were wealthier cities, Greek cities, and that they lived off the exploitation of poor peasants who were living there. And Jesus never was in a Greek city. There was one six kilometers from Nazareth. Sepphoris. He never went there. He only visited the villages of the poor farmers who usually every morning went to the gate of the city to see if the head of the latifundio needed labor for the day. And then the man came out..."Today I want twenty", "Today I want ten" ...What about the others? Nothing for the others. Will they be able to eat that day? Hardly. In other words, the life of farmers without property.
Well ... What about the fishermen? Most fishermen did not own their boats. The boat belonged to a landlord. And so, of course they had to give something, give him most of what they had fished. So, that was the world from which Jesus chose to take the disciples who were to announce His message and act as He did. His poverty was so great that He ended...ended in condemnation, ended in death and death on the cross, which is an infamous death. In other words, it's the death that's inflicted on disobedient or insufficiently obedient slaves.
People from good families didn't die like that; they were killed by less cruel methods. But since Jesus was poor, then they treated Him like ... like a pauper. How did it come to that? Why? He proclaimed His message before the authorities. He denounced, among the poor, the lies of the big ones, the powerful ones. Today there is no shortage of similar lies. But finally, He raised His voice, without money, without political support, without weapons, only with the strength of His word. Of course ... they tolerated Him for three years. That couldn't last any longer.
A poor fellow who raises his voice and is denouncing and condemning amid the multitude all the lies and injustices, of course that can not last long. So, because of His fidelity to His mission of not transforming this world from the top down, by force of arms. And how many times ... how many times ... have people received Christianity by force of arms? For example, in America. So, thinking that faith is announced with the aid of weapons or accompanying weapons or accumulating money to do fantastic works, great works, showing the superiority of their civilization... that that will make people Christians...not. So, they don't convert and they don't come to the real ... to the true faith.
Of course, they can be deceived. For example, the influence that the Emperor Constantine had when he needed a religion stronger than the traditional Roman tribal religions and the traditional religion of Rome, which were highly particularized and had no chance of penetrating the multitude of peoples of the empire. So, he chose the Christian religion. Why? Ah ... because in the last battle fought against his competitor for the rule, there they had said that the most powerful God was Jesus Christ and He had to be invoked. So he invoked Him, hoisted the flag, and there he saw that Jesus had given him victory. How is it possible? Was it the true God? Or did the devil give him the victory? How do we know?
This idea that victory is given by God, and so the winners are always the faithful and the defeated are the infidels...that persisted for many centuries and still today. And still today. Hence, if we examine the current wars, the wars that are currently being waged in Iraq or Afghanistan, that's in the background too. We are the good guys because we are the strongest. And this idea is profound. This is what Jesus came to denounce, to expose and denounce. He created opposition by telling the truth, accepting all the consequences. He said: "Blessed are you when you are persecuted because that is how they have treated all the prophets," and that's how they treated Him. However, that word doesn't remain ineffective. It was not lived in vain. And that loyalty to His mission later brought millions and millions of adherents to the faith, of people to the faith.
In other words, He wanted to show that the way is non-power and non-violence. Of course, the permanent temptation always is to think that you can't evangelize without power, without alliance with the powers, with the powerful...No money!. So, accumulating to be able to build large buildings. To do cultural works that will attract people and thinking that thereby conversion can be achieved, adherence to the message of Jesus, when Jesus showed otherwise. He showed the path of truth in pure love without violence, without forcing in any way.
Obviously it's not easy, but He came there and, in history, there are disciples of Jesus who actually follow this path. There are some who follow it ninety percent, others seventy, others fifty, others twenty, others ten. Sure, it's a demanding path, a difficult one, but there are, there are people who take this road and ... die. In the last fifteen years in the Northeast of Brazil, where I live, 1,500 peasant leaders, from the peasant movements, have been killed. Fifteen hundred!
No one has ever been convicted. All the murderers have been covered up by the authorities, by the big ones, because of having been faithful, but still, the peaceful struggle continues. And in this example, others find encouragement, courage, hope, and confidence in the way they have chosen and that was the way of Jesus. So then that's how a transformation of humanity comes about.
What is the access to freedom?
What is the new man, the new woman? So it's this: they have access to freedom. Paul says in Galatians: "You have been called to freedom." He doesn't say this or that freedom ...no. Freedom! So, be, be transformed into human beings, free ... And what does "free" mean? It's the person who makes his life, doesn't let himself be manipulated, doesn't let himself be pushed around. He doesn't simply do what everyone else does, doesn't just do what the authorities expect for fear of losing his job, losing economic advantages. No, they make their life personally.
And ... how is that life? It's precisely a life that is loving all human beings simply called to enter the kingdom of God. This is true, authentic freedom. The person who is not subordinate to needs, desires, or things he needs for himself, but the person who is free to help others wherever he finds them and where he finds need. It is the act of freedom. And to that, Paul says, "we have been called." But he himself, in the same letter, complains that many who thought they were already disciples of Jesus, had already fallen back into slavery. Subordinating themselves to other values, another religion, something else that make them slaves. Slaves of customs, practices, fears ... No ... The disciple of Jesus is like Jesus. He feels afraid but doesn't let himself be impressed by his fear.
Jesus also suffered fear before His death and was afraid. And who is not afraid when they see themselves close to a violent death? Who is not afraid? He was afraid! ... but He was free to just not to be impressed by fear. And continuing ahead along the way, His messianic mission, without turning back, no looking back, but confident that this was the Father's way, that it's the truth. And Jesus said: "I am the truth." What is that? In other words, what He does, that's the truth. That is the true path. That is real life. Then, enter this way, this life, that which is entering the truth.
The vocation to freedom
The vocation to freedom is difficult. It often happens that Church institutions are a little afraid of freedom. Then, despite Luther's famous book on Christian liberty, they are very afraid. I've seen Bible commentaries on that verse from Galatians: "For we were called to freedom." The commentator says: "Maybe Paul is exaggerating a bit" (laughter). So he let himself be carried away by the Oriental spirit. Well, the Oriental spirit always exaggerates. But not here, the Oriental spirit was exactly the translation of what Jesus had experienced and that He presented Himself precisely as a free man who made His way and did not let Himself be turned away by anyone. He didn't let Himself be separated from His mission by anyone, by anything, not by any threat.
Well, then that would be...I would say ...following Jesus. How? What is it? How is it? This has been lived out in very different ways in the history of mankind, of course. Because the circumstances are so different and people are different too. In other words, nobody will simply copy what someone else has done. They will follow their same inspiration, but in the new circumstances where they are and with the type of character, of mental and physical disposition, that allows them to act in this world. There is an immense variety of forms of imitation, of ways to follow.
But the fundamental line is always the same. It is the one that Jesus lived out in His life and that must be understood ever more clearly. Because there were deviations. There was a time when, under the influence of Greek philosophy, Christian ethics was reflected in the language of the Greek philosophers, the Greek virtues. The fundamentals, the core of the gospel doesn't appear here. And here the Greeks called prudence, fortitude, temperance, all good.
But in the end, that's aside from what is really effective, what is really the true path of Jesus. So that the effort of the churches is always coming back to reading the Bible, reading the Gospels, the life of Christ that the prophets proclaim and announce clearly. But in the end the Gospels are nevertheless essential and the letters of the apostles explain in that they draw attention to key points.
The earliest Gospel, in the opinion of almost all biblical scholars today, was the Gospel of Mark. It was probably written shortly after year 70, in the decade of the seventies. I'm not going to make an exegetical demonstration...but here is someone, "according to Mark"... but who ...? Ah ... we don't know who. But someone wrote those memories, those memories of Jesus, ie, throughout the oral tradition, all that was said -- that was transmitted orally -- was chosen.
It didn't tell all of Jesus' life, for as St. John says "the whole world would not be able, to be filled, to receive all the words, all the writings." But he has chosen and it is clear that ... that it's what Mark has chosen. He has chosen the way of the cross. Why? Well, probably because in his time, some people were already giving it less importance or less value. But for them the significance of Jesus' life is just that: that He let Himself be killed because He didn't want any political influence, any economic influence, any form of weapons. So He surrendered without being forced into the temptation that others tend to think that ... I once heard a bishop say that ... "without the alliance with the government one can't evangelize." According to the Gospel, it would be the opposite ... "with the government's alliance, one can not evangelize." One should keep oneself free. And of course, in the government they must adapt to the situation, because you have to make snap decisions.
We don't seek to solve everything at once just like that, but to enter a path with perseverance ... perseverance. And then there came the author of the Gospel to point out: "No ... Jesus was like this... totally boldly denouncing and addressing the whole system in place and all the established authorities to expose the lies and oppression."
Sin: Lies and Oppression
Lies and oppression, because this is sin. Jesus came and said: "To end the reign of sin." What is sin? Well, it's what the leaders of Israel were doing at that time. In other words, sin is the system of domination that always reappears throughout history, which is exactly the opposite of brotherhood and love. All forms of domination that have resulted in the decline of life. It's killing the other, reducing his life, destroying his life...That is domination, oppression. That is the sin! All the little sins are merely expressions of this global sin. And that's why Jesus chooses the poor more often, because they have no possibility of dominating.
They have no money, no resources, so they will lend an ear more. As for those who are of the higher classes, they don't like to hear these words. That gives a spiritual meaning to all that the gospel and Jesus say. So, I have seen many translations of the famous verse in Matthew 5, so then ... "Blessed are the poor in spirit." And the translation says, for example, "Blessed are those who have the soul of a poor person" But this is not about soul. In other words, the poor are poor in body. They are in fact [poor] ... but they have spirit. So it is the poor who rise up, who are receiving and welcoming the strength of the spirit. If they are those who conform, who are resigned, who remain passive, they are not happy.
Happy are those who, inspired by the spirit, take action with what the poor have at their disposal. Without power, without external force, without relationships, without any support, no. With what they are, and fraternally united with others who are of the same way. One person alone can do little. If they are ten, they can do more. If they are a hundred, they can do more. With the danger that some will get in the middle who are spiritualizing everything, and thus diverting from the real content. But the poor who have spirit, they understand. And they see precisely that this is the way Jesus has chosen.
Well ... I'll stop here. Maybe some people want to give a comment, add something, say something that I forgot to say, or in short, a final comment or explanation. Now, I would like, of course, for you to speak up because since I'm 86, my hearing is no longer so fine. My hearing ... then there are those things that you ... have to endure at the end of life.
Questions and answers
Assistant: OK, so we'll have a round of questions...
Participant: It's true that we should not resort to armed power. It seems that we should choose the way of Jesus, which was the way of the cross. How is it possible that, while asking people to renounce political power, economic power, armed power and violence, we ask them at the same time to denounce the lies and oppression, to rise up and not accept domination? That's my question; maybe I didn't understand anything ...
J. Comblin: Well ... theoretically it's incomprehensible, but it's precisely that... that is what is mysterious and incomprehensible. So, as Paul says ... "God has chosen foolishness rather than wisdom, to confound all the wise with the foolishness." And the foolishness is the foolishness of the cross. Foolishness is precisely using poor means; it's crazy. But there are people who practice this craziness and follow that path. That is, experience shows that in every generation there were people, milestones today, who actually practiced this madness. Some ... some are dead. But of course, not many, numerically.
But we can remember that during the military rule in Guatemala, eighty thousand peasants were killed by the forces of the nation, by the army, by the police just because they didn't want ... they didn't want to change, they were unwilling to accept the system and demanded their rights as indigenous people. In other words, they were afraid but they were stronger than their fear. And ... well ... finally, in the end, as is seen in Central America and elsewhere, it's the veteran resisters who manage to convince the majority. And so...most of the people awoke to the realization that we can not accept our situation of domination, of humiliation. That is, experience shows that it is possible though ... but apparently it seems an impossible thing. But what is impossible with men is possible with God. This is precisely what the Gospel tells us.
Assistant: A final question for the father...
Participant: Well ... my question is a bit related to the previous one. You mentioned that the freedom in this way, it's a freedom, and you cited the example of the state, that sometimes it is thought that in order to evangelize one has to make an appeal to the State, that it isn't so. But ... you said that we should be the leader of certain influences, including that of the State. But when you speak of conscientization and and it reminds me a bit of what Paulo Freire talked about, that this conscientization leads to a struggle to recover many things, but this fight for the most part is against the state, against the political powers and similar powers, so ... Is there a dichotomy between that struggle and the state's influence over us? That's what the question is pointing towards.
J. Comblin: Let's see ... Can you explain the purview of the question?
Participant: That you said we should be leading influences like the state, but the fight that leads to that conscientization is against the state that leads us to rely a bit again on the state and powers such as the state's, such as politics or similar ones. So, it seems to me that there could be some dichotomy in that. Fighting against an influence and in turn, ending up depending on that influence, as in the case of peasants or indigenous people.
J. Comblin: Yes ... well, the problem is not the state directly, because what rules in politics is not the State, it's the powers that dominate the state. The state is more figurative, but it's concealing the forces that want to maintain the society. In other words, the state is the executive agent that does the will of the powerful, those who are truly strong. So, the enemy is not the state because the state is an instrument, it can be an instrument of a ruling class, but also be an instrument of the poor. In other words, the problem is those who actually have the power and want to maintain, increase their power, their strength by all means. When the state is no longer enough, they use weapons.
And when there's a need to convince people of the justice of their cause, here they have television and the major newspapers. They try to explain that there's no way out; we must accept the situation as it is. So, in any case, it will get better. But ... without any intention. The speeches are nice, of course ... the speeches are pretty. And like the speeches of politicians, although nowdays they are making fewer and fewer speeches. The propaganda from what I've seen here is rather ... "vote for me because I'm the best." In other words, but ... at what? Who? What will they do specifically? What are the real measures they will take? And then, they're going to stop crime. How? By killing all the criminals? Or ... How? ... By putting them all in jail, for life, like in the United States, where there are two million prisoners?
So, you want it like that? In other words, they don't say ... don't say. So now, how many prisoners do you want to have in Chile? Half a million? How many? So, all that remains vague because the problem is that there's a whole structure. It may be that people who are there say: "I can't do anything else, I'm in it ... What will...what will I do?" "I'm working in a company. What will I do?" "I'm following company policy." But ... but in some way there are always gaps through which you can enter and affirm the desire for a new situation without resorting to arms, the use of money, the one who receives a lot of money from companies and...
Why do companies give so much money? For what? Ah ... it's to ... show that they're good, to show that they really want the salvation of the poor, the working class. So, they have to establish some works that are also part of the advertising budget. So, in such a way, the problem here is not authority, it's the forces and structures that maintain the status quo. In other words, people, everyone, you can't judge people, but the structure ... then yes, the structure. And then the people to the extent that they are accomplices ... that they are complicit.
There is a former president of the International Monetary Fund. After retirement, then he confesses that "we in the Monetary Fund have committed many injustices. We have caused much unnecessary suffering." But when he was president, he didn't say it. So, when he left ... then ... because once he is in the system ... well, he defends the system, promotes the system. Later comes an awareness that returns -- "and really what we did was not really loving, it wasn't truly loving." So, people -- each case is different -- you can't judge people globally, but the structure, yes. And then the people to the extent they defend [the system], then they dehumanize the structures that others take advantage of.
Participant: Don José ... within the oppressive forces, let's see ... in the way of Jesus, was His way to proceed with women. It was truly transforming, revolutionary. I've said something about the Catholic crisis, but I deal with many evangelical women and I've talked with them and what I'm going to say seems to me to also apply to the Evangelical Churches. How, what conversion does the patriarchal, chauvinist Church, as an oppressive force, need today to free us women?
I know we have ways ... right?. I have come a long way, we are doing ... but listening to even a brief opportunity for you to tell us how you see at this time, the patriarchal church still dominating, so many women. I don't know if I've explained myself ... It's clear ... (laughter)
J. Comblin: Well ... the controversy against Marxism is calming down now, including ... machismo! ... (laughter) Sorry ... So machismo is not ... (laughter) That is very strong ... very strong and difficult. Even in the Baptist church in Brazil, there are women pastors, but the women pastors are always or almost always lower, that is to say, they don't have the same prominence or the same opportunity. Machismo is going to be hard ... hard to destroy.
But with perseverance and especially if mothers raise their children to have the same requirements as their brothers. Because for girls ... there they have to do everything and have to be perfect. And the boys do what they want. And give orders. As infants, they begin to give orders. They already know they're male, and so they begin ... begin to give orders. Much of the education system, the whole education system tends to reinforce ... reinforce that. So, and this involves a change of mentality, no? In other words, women do not have enough sense of their strength, their ability, their humanity and so, they shouldn't bend so easily to patriarchal power. Patriarchal [power] that starts in the first years of life.
And so then, it's a transformation ... it's a progressive transformation, a slow one that depends on the affirmation of women. In the churches, too. That is, there are some that are more macho, such as the Catholic Church, and others that are less, but almost all are... almost all because it's a legacy ... a legacy. Because traditionally the male has the power. At least in the Neolithic civilizations, for the last ten thousand years. Before, it might have been different, in the fishing villages of Paleolithic times.
But what we have seen for thousands of years is that the male is considered, and considers himself and is accepted as the dominant one, the one in charge. Without any uprising of women, that it to say, you don't need to have weapons, it's not a question of having arms, having money, even of having college degrees, because we see that women are always relegated to less prestigious professions. How many women are teachers? Why? Ah ... because being a teacher is something that has little regard in society. In other words, it's nothing.
So, while in the companies, it's different ... different. So, now there's a tendency for medicine to be an ever more feminine mission. But why? Ah ... because it requires a lot of work, a lot of dedication ... a lot ... And so, that's for women. Males prefer less tiring careers, ones that are more pleasant. And then, the company of the sick isn't exactly very [pleasant].
And so, in the past, still today obviously, there are male doctors who do it with a feminine spirit, but ... more and more it seems to be women. So, you have to have an insurrection, and the same in the churches because they don't speak much. They bow down. So they accept, thinking that the Christian vocation is a vocation to obedience, to submission. No. It's a vocation to freedom, it is freedom, it is to be won. In other words, it won't come spontaneously. The rights that women have won, were through many struggles, with great perseverance. It wasn't easy. And the way, still in the middle of the way ... still has to be made. So, we will have to continue to persevere.