Monday, November 14, 2011

The Spanish Catholic Hierarchy vs. the Progressive Theologians: La Lucha Continua

Spanish theologian Juan José Tamayo (right), president of the Asociación de Teólogos y Teólogas Juan XXIII and author of numerous books, was prohibited last weeek by Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, Archbishop of Madrid, from giving a lecture at San Félix, a parish in that city run by the Viatoran order. The Archdiocese offered no explanation for the censorship, though the differences between Dr. Tamayo and the Cardinal are well-known, and the Asociación de Teólogos y Teólogas Juan XXIII has been forced to hold their annual conference in the Salón de Actos de Comisiones Obreras because they have not been allowed to use any Catholic Church facility.

Instead, Dr. Tamayo, Chair of Theology and Religious Studies at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, gave his lecture on "Is liberation theology dead? The option for the poor today" at the María Moliner Public Library last Friday.

Commenting on the incident, Dr. Tamayo said, "It's one more example of the bunker mentality of the more fundamentalist bishops who close ranks to block free and progressive theological thought." And he added, "we are moving towards the Church of Gregory VII."

In a similar incident, Mons. Mario Iceta, bishop of Bilbao, has banned theologian Andrés Torres Queiruga from teaching a course at the Bilbao Diocesan Institute of Theology and Pastoral Ministry. Torres Queiruga is professor of Theology at the Instituto Teolóxico Compostelá and of Religious Philosophy at the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela. He writes primarily in Galician, is the author of numerous books, and in 1990 received an award from the Spanish government for his translation of the Bible.

Although Dr. Torres Queiruga has had his own run-ins with the Spanish Catholic hierarchy, this latest move seems to be more directed at reining in the Institute or, as Javier Vitoria, a former director suggests, "leading the Institute back to a more centrist position." However, Mons. Iceta also let it be known that he does not consider Dr. Torres Queiruga to be "someone representative of the diocese." He did add that the theologian could be one member of a roundtable where multiple views were presented.

And the decision follows on a terse communiqué from the Archdiocese of Santiago de Compostela disassociating itself from the journal Encrucillada which Torres Queiruga edits: "The editorial policy and contents of Revista Encrucillada, as can be seen from its organizational chart, are the sole responsibility of the editor, his editorial team and those who contribute articles." In the same communiqué, the Archdiocese distanced itself from a forum on "Towards a New Spirituality" that Encrucillada held earlier this month at which theologians Sr. Teresa Forcades, Fr. José Antonio Pagola, and Dr. Luis González-Carvajal spoke. "Nor is the organization of forums being held by said journal the responsibility of the bishops of the Church in Galicia...obviously, those who organize the forum invite those who agree with their positions and message." And the communiqué concluded "the benchmark for evaluating content and opinions related to Christian thought is the Magisterium of the Church and, specifically, the Catechism of the Catholic Church."

When asked later by journalist José Manuel Vidal to what he attributed the reaction of the ultra-traditional Catholics to his forum, Dr. Torres Queiruga replied: "First of all, ignorance. I don't know to what extent they realize the very serious slander they are spreading, something which certainly, in the traditional morality they claim to defend, is a mortal sin. Then there's an attitude that hides an ignorance of true interpretation of faith and legitimate pluralism behind an aggressive dogmatism, that never distinguishes between faith and theology, between what is essential and what is secondary. They repeat phrases without having spent the slightest bit of time to understand what they really mean and comment on opinions of authors and books that they've never read. What I find hard to understand is how so much hatred can be distilled in the name of God who is love, and that in the name of Jesus who was enormously renewing and even "revolutionary" in His interpretation of the traditional faith that He had received, they are trying to impose a reactionary religion, which kills the living voice of the Gospel. Basically, they are reenacting today the same procedures and calumnies with which others embittered Jesus of Nazareth's life two thousand years ago...even killing Him."

We're still fighting the same battles that Jesus did with the religious authorities of our time.

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