Friday, August 19, 2011

José María Castillo: "Religion should solve problems, not create them"

by Pedro Ingelmo (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Diario de Sevilla

This theologian (photo), a critic of the Vatican, lost his professorship at the University of Granada at the urging of the present Pontiff. He advocates for ending celibacy and for women's ordination.

Lay people facing off against papists, being arrested, injured...what is happening to us?

It's an indicator of the tension generated by the pope's visit, the gap that exists between religion and society. But it also speaks of the violence and intransigence that surround us, wherever it comes from.

Introduce yourself: Are you Catholic, Apostolic and Roman?

Yes, without qualification.

Roman too? Rome expelled you.

It didn't expel me. It told me in 1988, without a prior trial, that I was forbidden to teach in the chair at the Theology School at Granada that I held in those days.

What did you do? What did you say?

Would you believe that, after all this time, I still don't know?

Maybe very similar things to what a young theologian named Ratzinger said in the early 60s.

Ratzinger published two hugely influential books in the 60s. Perhaps they would seem to us to have been surpassed today, but the truth is that Introduction to Christianity and Das neue Volk Gottes ["The new people of God"] said things and contributed documents that today's Vatican would not allow.

Benedict XVI would censor Ratzinger the theologian?


Tell me something about those books and what would provoke such a scandal.

Ratzinger the theologian was a firm supporter of putting the powers of the Pope in their place. It wasn't scandalous. The Second Vatican Council, which will turn 50, said it too. Paul VI tried to carry it out, but the Curia didn't allow it. In fact, the Papacy has more power than it did then.

There are those in Rome who are more papist than the Pope?

Many. Let's not be naive. The Pope is an aged man, with very limited health. Who's in charge there? The Vatican is a very complex and secret organization. Little is known about it.

And when did Ratzinger stop being a liberal?

We have to put ourselves in the 60s. Back then they talked about anti-science, the counterculture, the theologians of the death of God, post Christianity. In Germany, where Ratzinger was working, these theories were strong. We are talking about a man with a studious disposition, pious, psychologically timid. May '68 exploded. Many things happened that changed the thinking of the young theologian Ratzinger.

Let's come back to the present. What do you think of this gathering of Catholic youth in Madrid?

John Paul II raised up a very interesting project that consisted of a global gathering to regain the new generations in their habits and beliefs, bringing them together and helping them in their beliefs and behavior. It was undoubtedly an excellent initiative.

Any "but"s?

Gathering young people from five continents costs a lot of money. Checkbook evangelization is not defensible. Jesus forbade the apostles from even carrying loose change in their travels!

Times were different.

For these things, there is neither time nor circumstance. Money is a fetish of power. It has a seductiveness that the Gospel deplores. You can't serve God and money. Money is the enemy of God.

OK, but evangelization has a cost. It's inevitable.

What can be avoided is pomp and ostentation. The Pope is the Vicar of Christ and I can't see Jesus being received by powers and authorities. It was the powers and authorities who ordered His martyrdom.

Place Jesus for me in today's world, in 15-M, in the Arab spring...

Jesus saw faith as a set of convictions that translate into ethics and the engine of change in society. In that sense, He could be seen as a politician, but Jesus was not a politician. He was a prophet. 15-M and the Arab spring are political demonstrations in which religion plays either a secondary or a nonexistent role. We are talking about any religion. In a world like the Arab one, which is very pious, religion has not been instrumental in the revolts. Mubarak's defenders were as religious as his detractors. How God is present in all religions currently is that He's not home.

What do you mean?

Thinking that the divine is in conflict with the human. They prohibit things that limit human beings' happiness. It makes no sense. It's necessary to humanize religion, to humanize God. God's not at the service of the interests of a few.

Is this at the root of the demonstrations against the Pope in Madrid?

I'm not talking about this specific case, but in Madrid everything started because they made people's lives difficult, closing streets, inconveniencing the merchants. Religion is not to complicate people's lives. It's not to create problems, but to solve them.

You wrote in an article that the Pope should have held these days in Somalia. Your idea has been very successful but, in reality, Mogadishu is is full of religious people.

It's a faith I believe in and fight for. Consider that Jesus' activity was healing the sick and feeding the hungry. Health and food -- the two big immediate problems -- and, from there, He talked about God and salvation, but first things first. In this world, enough food is produced for 10 billion people and one billion people go hungry. That's the big problem in this world, and no other.

What would you confess in a portable confessional?

Those images surprise me. It's confession as a spectacle...I think it's a sign of a Church that's in crisis and knows it is. Look, there are 60,000 university students at the University of Granada. How many go to Mass? Very, very few. Taking the confessionals out into the street is a publicity stunt.

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