Monday, June 20, 2011

"Benedict XVI has blown up all the bridges to modernity": An interview with Juan José Tamayo

by Cristina Turrau (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Diario Vasco

A theologian who is critical of the current hierarchy of the Catholic Church, Juan José Tamayo has just published the book, Juan Pablo II y Benedicto XVI. Del neoconservadurismo al integrismo ("John Paul II and Benedict XVI: From neoconservatism to fundamentalism", RBA Libros, 2011). He will be speaking today about the thesis he develops in this publication in Donostia, in a talk in the DV Cultural Hall at 8 p.m., in the Kutxa Room on Andía Street, free admission. He's close to liberation theology, and the Spanish Bishops' Conference branded him a "heretic" in 2003. "My criticism is extreme and radical but the Catholic Church is changing from the grassroots."

You've just published Juan Pablo II y Benedicto XVI. Del neoconservadurismo al integrismo. Your thesis seems defined...

Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI move within the same model of Church -- the restorationist conception. They question the Second Vatican Council's way of seeing the Church and retreat to earlier periods and historical times that don't correspond with the present. The dialogue with modernity and atheism, with Christian and non-Christian faiths, is being interrupted. Benedict XVI and John Paul II, in part, have blown up all the bridges of dialogue with modernity, blaming it for the crisis of Christianity. They have also broken the bridges to the world of unbelief and the ecumenical initiatives of previous periods. They have had a condemnatory attitude towards non-Christian religions and, in the case of Benedict XVI, especially towards Islam. Another bridge that they have managed to break is the encounter with the liberation theologies and with the churches committed to the poor in the Third World.

You complain that women in the Church have neither voice nor vote.

It's one of the most serious inconsistencies in the two pontificates. Women are the silent and silenced majority in the Church. The behavior of both popes has been a humiliation for women because they are not recognized as subjects of moral rights. John Paul II used a discourse of excellence: Woman is the most wonderful of God's creation, but she is excluded from all areas of responsibility or management. But the exclusion is strictest in the field of development of doctrine. Women have difficulty gaining access to theological studies, teaching positions in theology and the development of the moral principles of Christianity. Principles that are then imposed on them with respect to the body, sexuality, reproduction and family life, the couple and marriage.

You think that the beatification of John Paul II by Benedict XVI is an "exchange of favors".

It has its own logic. Benedict XVI owes everything to John Paul II with respect to his doctrinal and administrative power in Rome. As saying goes: to be well-bred is to be grateful ("es de bien nacidos ser agradecidos"). John Paul II brought Ratzinger to the Vatican and put him in charge of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is responsible for monitoring orthodoxy and the theologians who turn away from it are facilely characterized as "heterodox" or "heretics". Cardinal Ratzinger acquired an extraordinary power to control the journals, books, teaching, academic chairs and training of theology students. He had absolute power, as nobody has had in his position or in the previous institution, the Holy Office. During the more than 20 years he ruled the Congregation, he behaved with great harshness and rigidity. He expelled theologians, including colleagues of his, from their chairs for not agreeing with his opinions; he imposed censorship on books, shut down journals and put many theologians in the position of having to give up their intellectual projects. He participated actively in the election of bishops in important dioceses who fully identified with his neoconservative theology. John Paul II appointed him successor 'in pectore'. But there's more...


Behind the beatification of John Paul II by Benedict XVI is an attempt to whitewash crimes. Both were involved up to their necks in the knowledge of cases of pedophilia. For over 30 years of rule by both popes, there have been inhuman crimes against children and youth. And during this time they were complicit by their silence. Cases of this kind were coming before the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which had the direct and sole responsibility to take action.

And it didn't...

No decision was ever made to punish the guilty. There was a complicity of silence, the most serious of all complicities. Faced with the criticism that raged, for example, over John Paul II's permissiveness with Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, the Pope thought that the best way was to declare John Paul II blessed. And thus he washed his own crimes.

Benedict XVI has been characterized by his harshness in condemning pederasty in the Church.

As a partner in the crimes of cover-up, when he became Pope, the time bomb exploded in his hands. There are so many cases and in so many countries, that the situation can't go on. In documents and statements, he blames the pedophiles and the bishops, in Ireland for example. But he has never acknowledged his responsibility, which is the most important. And he has not apologized. The documents are just smoke if these people are not excluded from the priesthood and put in the hands of justice. And there has been obstruction of justice.

You criticize the rapid beatification of Escrivá de Balager.

It's a scandalous case in the Catholic Church. Among the new neoconservative religious movements, Opus Dei and the Legionaries of Christ are located in the social place of the power establishment. These two popes have taken the side of such movements and have moved away from those that are more faithful to Vatican II and more committed to the poor.

Joxe Arregi, who left the Franciscans because of his confrontation with Bishop Munilla, is giving his talk today.

Joxe Arregi's case, like mine 7 years earlier, is the best evidence that the Holy Office continues its work. He is a brave, committed and consistent theologian. I've defended him for his corporate solidarity but, above all, for his solidarity with people who have seen their rights denied or curtailed in the community in which they live. I have suffered this limitation by the Catholic hierarchy, in my own flesh.

Will the Church change?

Despite my hard analysis and my extreme and radical criticism, I think the situation is reversing itself. Reality is changing within the Catholic Church. Not at the top or in the middle, but at the grassroots. And a very promising community-based movement is developing. This happens with ice. Below it, there is water, which emerges through small pores until it becomes a big ocean. The same is happening here. The project of a participatory, egalitarian Church in solidarity with the poor that was designed in the Second Vatican Council is jelling in the collectives and organizations.

1 comment:

  1. Ahi vamos otra vez: