The following is the message from the XXXI Congreso de Teología of the Asociación de Teólogos y Teólogas Juan XXIII which met in Madrid last week. The theme of this year's conference was fundamentalism.
Para leer el mensaje en español, pulsar aquí.
From September 8 to 11, we celebrated the 31st Theology Congress with the participation of 700 people from different continents and many cultures, faiths and ethnicities, to reflect on the phenomenon of fundamentalism, its main manifestations, causes, and consequences in the various geocultural scenes: Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe.
1. Fundamentalism is the most eloquent expression of the inability of human beings to live in harmony amid diversity and it turns discrepancies into communication barriers. It feeds intolerance, is the enemy of diversity, and can manifest in any ideology.
2. The increasingly widespread fundamentalist phenomenon appropriates all the areas of human existence: personal and social, religious and cultural, political and economic. This can be seen in the development of xenophobic and Islamophobic parties, in the fanaticism of religious leaders who burn holy books, and in the terrorist attacks committed in the name of God. Coinciding with the 10th anniversary of 9-11, we wish to remember in a special way the attacks that day on the United States, without forgetting those on March 11 in Madrid, on July 7 in London, on July 21 in Oslo and others, as well as the violent invasions of countries and attacks on their civilian populations by the imperial powers.
3. We paid special attention to religious fundamentalism, whose most important features are: the absolutism of tradition, the search for an unshakable foundation in a changing world, the supposed literalist understanding of sacred texts outside the cultural and historical context in which they were written, forgetting the inevitable criticism, the claim of absolute truth in a world characterized by complexity and uncertainty, depending on undisputed authority against growing insecurity, defense of an immutable morality in a society in constant transformation, faith in a known God who legitimizes their own convictions and options, sacralization of the profane, dogmatization of matters of opinion, and refusal to dialogue.
4. In the Catholic Church, fundamentalism is usually channeled through the neoconservative movements, bent on carrying Church restorationism to the extreme, and in many intolerant acts by the hierarchy that minimize, and even deny, fundamental aspects of Vatican II and condemn the work of theologians and renewal movements.
5. We saw some of these attitudes in the recent World Youth Day, which offered an authoritarian and patriarchal image of the Church, alienated from the real problems of youth, and promoted the exaltation of the Pope, even falling into popolatry, one of the clearest expressions of fundamentalism. And all of it with the support and legitimation from the various municipal, regional, military, and business institutions.
6. Patriarchal fundamentalism has been the object of close critical analysis by feminist theologians from different religious traditions. It promotes inequality, maintains gender roles and results in absolute control of the social order by men, who impose women's submission, resorting to violence and reaching the extreme of femicide.
7. Fundamentalism spans different social sectors and is installed in the leadership of most religions, politics, economics, and even countries, who make decisions in an authoritarian manner without consulting the citizens or promoting participatory democracy. We ourselves, however far we think we are from fundamentalist attitudes, are not free from falling into them. Therefore it is necessary to be vigilant and always have a self-critical attitude.
8. We believe the best antidote to fundamentalism is the renunciation of absolute ownership of truth and the collective search for it, respect for pluralism, living together as opposed to co-existing, the right to be different, intercultural and interreligious dialogue oriented towards working for peace and justice, solidarity with the excluded, the defense of nature, and equality between men and women. Religion has, in its own sources, shining examples and means to overcome fundamentalism, which are: the dignity of people, the social fabric, acceptance of others, forgiveness, mercy, the option for the poor and marginalized, and hospitality.
Madrid, September 11, 2011
MORE ARTICLES ABOUT THE CONGRESO
Saludo al Congreso de Teólogos Juan XXIII
- Pedro Casaldáliga
La 'papolatría' es expresión de fundamentalismo, según los teólogos de la Juan XXIII, El País, 9/11/2011
Teólogos progresistas alertan del avance del fanatismo, El País, 9/11/2011
"Concilio traicionado, concilio perdido", El País, 9/9/2011. NOTE: The full text of Giovanni Franzoni's remarks to the Congreso is available in Spanish. We will be translating it into English on this blog later this week.
Los teólogos reformistas lamentan que esté "cortado" el dialogo con los obispos, El País, 9/8/2011