Saturday, February 5, 2011

Theologians issue call for church reform

Yesterday, the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung published a memorandum (full text in German below) titled "Church 2011: A Necessary Move" signed by 143 German, Austrian and Swiss university theologians.

The memorandum calls for church reform in six areas:

1. Participation: The memorandum calls for a more decentralized and democratic decisionmaking process with more lay participation including lay involvement in the appointments of priests and bishops.

2. Community: The memorandum calls for more lay participation in decisionmaking at the parish level and also for expanding the priesthood to include women and married men. It highlights the problems of the priest shortage, burn out, and parish consolidation and the erosion of community life that have resulted from the current system.

3. Church law: The memorandum calls for more respect for the rights and dignity of church members rather than strict legalism.

4. Freedom of conscience: The theologians ask for more respect for individual conscience and for the Church to be less exclusionary. Specifically, it asks for the Church to be more welcoming of same-sex couples and those who have remarried.

5. Reconciliation: It asks the Church to take sin within its own ranks more seriously while also eschewing moral self-righteousness and rigidity. Without mentioning the sex abuse cases in particular -- although this must have been in the theologians' minds, the memorandum calls for the Church not to distort the idea of forgiveness in order to excuse their own from genuine repentance and atonement and prevent victims from seeking redress.

6. Worship: Liturgy, says the memorandum, must not be frozen in traditionalism or some sort of centralized standardization. Instead, cultural diversity and expression is to be welcomed in a living Church.

It will be interesting to see where this memo goes. Fr. Hans Langendörfer, SJ, secretary of the German Bishops' Conference, issued a response that seems to indicate that the bishops view the memorandum as part of an ongoing dialogue they have been having with the theological community and that the bishops would be considering it at their next meeting in an attempt to address those issues they can address to improve the Church. However, he cautioned that certain items in the memorandum conflicted with long-established Church teachings.

Kirche 2011: Ein notwendiger Aufbruch

Gut ein Jahr ist vergangen, seit am Berliner Canisius-Kolleg Fälle von sexuellem Missbrauch an Kindern und Jugendlichen durch Priester und Ordensleute öffentlich gemacht wurden. Es folgte ein Jahr, das die katholische Kirche in Deutschland in eine beispiellose Krise gestürzt hat. Das Bild, das sich heute zeigt, ist zwiespältig: Vieles ist begonnen worden, um den Opfern gerecht zu werden, Unrecht aufzuarbeiten und den Ursachen von Missbrauch, Verschweigen und Doppelmoral in den eigenen Reihen auf die Spur zu kommen. Bei vielen verantwortlichen Christinnen und Christen mit und ohne Amt ist nach anfänglichem Entsetzen die Einsicht gewachsen, dass tief greifende Reformen notwendig sind. Der Aufruf zu einem offenen Dialog über Macht- und Kommunikationsstrukturen, über die Gestalt des kirchlichen Amtes und die Beteiligung der Gläubigen an der Verantwortung, über Moral und Sexualität hat Erwartungen, aber auch Befürchtungen geweckt: Wird die vielleicht letzte Chance zu einem Aufbruch aus Lähmung und Resignation durch Aussitzen oder Kleinreden der Krise verspielt? Die Unruhe eines offenen Dialogs ohne Tabus ist nicht allen geheuer, schon gar nicht wenn ein Papstbesuch bevorsteht. Aber die Alternative: Grabesruhe, weil die letzten Hoffnungen zunichte gemacht wurden, kann es erst recht nicht sein.

Die tiefe Krise unserer Kirche fordert, auch jene Probleme anzusprechen, die auf den ersten Blick nicht unmittelbar etwas mit dem Missbrauchsskandal und seiner jahrzehntelangen Vertuschung zu tun haben. Als Theologieprofessorinnen und -professoren dürfen wir nicht länger schweigen. Wir sehen uns in der Verantwortung, zu einem echten Neuanfang beizutragen: 2011 muss ein Jahr des Aufbruchs für die Kirche werden. Im vergangenen Jahr sind so viele Christen wie nie zuvor aus der katholischen Kirche ausgezogen; sie haben der Kirchenleitung ihre Gefolgschaft gekündigt oder haben ihr Glaubensleben privatisiert, um es vor der Institution zu schützen. Die Kirche muss diese Zeichen verstehen und selbst aus verknöcherten Strukturen ausziehen, um neue Lebenskraft und Glaubwürdigkeit zurück zu gewinnen.

Die Erneuerung kirchlicher Strukturen wird nicht in ängstlicher Abschottung von der Gesellschaft gelingen, sondern nur mit dem Mut zur Selbstkritik und zur Annahme kritischer Impulse - auch von außen. Das gehört zu den Lektionen des letzten Jahres: Die Missbrauchskrise wäre nicht so entschieden bearbeitet worden ohne die kritische Begleitung durch die Öffentlichkeit. Nur durch offene Kommunikation kann die Kirche Vertrauen zurückgewinnen. Nur wenn Selbst- und Fremdbild der Kirche nicht auseinanderklaffen, wird sie glaubwürdig sein. Wir wenden uns an alle, die es noch nicht aufgegeben haben, auf einen Neuanfang in der Kirche zu hoffen und sich dafür einzusetzen. Signale zu Aufbruch und Dialog, die einige Bischöfe während der letzten Monate in Reden, Predigten und Interviews gesetzt haben, greifen wir auf.

Die Kirche ist kein Selbstzweck. Sie hat den Auftrag, den befreienden und liebenden Gott Jesu Christi allen Menschen zu verkünden. Das kann sie nur, wenn sie selbst ein Ort und eine glaubwürdige Zeugin der Freiheitsbotschaft des Evangeliums ist. Ihr Reden und Handeln, ihre Regeln und Strukturen - ihr ganzer Umgang mit den Menschen innerhalb und außerhalb der Kirche - stehen unter dem Anspruch, die Freiheit der Menschen als Geschöpfe Gottes anzuerkennen und zu fördern. Unbedingter Respekt vor jeder menschlichen Person, Achtung vor der Freiheit des Gewissens, Einsatz für Recht und Gerechtigkeit, Solidarität mit den Armen und Bedrängten: Das sind theologisch grundlegende Maßstäbe, die sich aus der Verpflichtung der Kirche auf das Evangelium ergeben. Darin wird die Liebe zu Gott und zum Nächsten konkret.

Die Orientierung an der biblischen Freiheitsbotschaft schließt ein differenziertes Verhältnis zur modernen Gesellschaft ein: In mancher Hinsicht ist sie der Kirche voraus, wenn es um die Anerkennung von Freiheit, Mündigkeit und Verantwortung der Einzelnen geht; davon kann die Kirche lernen, wie schon das Zweite Vatikanische Konzil betont hat. In anderer Hinsicht ist Kritik aus dem Geist des Evangeliums an dieser Gesellschaft unabdingbar, etwa wo Menschen nur nach ihrer Leistung beurteilt werden, wo wechselseitige Solidarität unter die Räder kommt oder die Würde des Menschen missachtet wird.

In jedem Fall aber gilt: Die Freiheitsbotschaft des Evangeliums bildet den Maßstab für eine glaubwürdige Kirche, für ihr Handeln und ihre Sozialgestalt. Die konkreten Herausforderungen, denen sich die Kirche stellen muss, sind keineswegs neu. Zukunftsweisende Reformen lassen sich trotzdem kaum erkennen. Der offene Dialog darüber muss in folgenden Handlungsfeldern geführt werden.

1. Strukturen der Beteiligung: In allen Feldern des kirchlichen Lebens ist die Beteiligung der Gläubigen ein Prüfstein für die Glaubwürdigkeit der Freiheitsbotschaft des Evangeliums. Gemäß dem alten Rechtsprinzip "Was alle angeht, soll von allen entschieden werden" braucht es mehr synodale Strukturen auf allen Ebenen der Kirche. Die Gläubigen sind an der Bestellung wichtiger Amtsträger (Bischof, Pfarrer) zu beteiligen. Was vor Ort entschieden werden kann, soll dort entschieden werden. Entscheidungen müssen transparent sein.

2. Gemeinde: Christliche Gemeinden sollen Orte sein, an denen Menschen geistliche und materielle Güter miteinander teilen. Aber gegenwärtig erodiert das gemeindliche Leben. Unter dem Druck des Priestermangels werden immer größere Verwaltungseinheiten - "XXL-Pfarren" - konstruiert, in denen Nähe und Zugehörigkeit kaum mehr erfahren werden können. Historische Identitäten und gewachsene soziale Netze werden aufgegeben. Priester werden "verheizt" und brennen aus. Gläubige bleiben fern, wenn ihnen nicht zugetraut wird, Mitverantwortung zu übernehmen und sich in demokratischeren Strukturen an der Leitung ihrer Gemeinde zu beteiligen. Das kirchliche Amt muss dem Leben der Gemeinden dienen - nicht umgekehrt. Die Kirche braucht auch verheiratete Priester und Frauen im kirchlichen Amt.

3. Rechtskultur: Die Anerkennung von Würde und Freiheit jedes Menschen zeigt sich gerade dann, wenn Konflikte fair und mit gegenseitigem Respekt ausgetragen werden. Kirchliches Recht verdient diesen Namen nur, wenn die Gläubigen ihre Rechte tatsächlich geltend machen können. Rechtsschutz und Rechtskultur in der Kirche müssen dringend verbessert werden; ein erster Schritt dazu ist der Aufbau einer kirchlichen Verwaltungsgerichtsbarkeit.

4. Gewissensfreiheit: Der Respekt vor dem individuellen Gewissen bedeutet, Vertrauen in die Entscheidungs- und Verantwortungsfähigkeit der Menschen zu setzen. Diese Fähigkeit zu unterstützen, ist auch Aufgabe der Kirche; sie darf aber nicht in Bevormundung umschlagen. Damit ernst zu machen, betrifft besonders den Bereich persönlicher Lebensentscheidungen und individueller Lebensformen. Die kirchliche Hochschätzung der Ehe und der ehelosen Lebensform steht außer Frage. Aber sie gebietet nicht, Menschen auszuschließen, die Liebe, Treue und gegenseitige Sorge in einer gleichgeschlechtlichen Partnerschaft oder als wiederverheiratete Geschiedene verantwortlich leben.

5. Versöhnung: Solidarität mit den "Sündern" setzt voraus, die Sünde in den eigenen Reihen ernst zu nehmen. Selbstgerechter moralischer Rigorismus steht der Kirche nicht gut an. Die Kirche kann nicht Versöhnung mit Gott predigen, ohne selbst in ihrem eigenen Handeln die Voraussetzung zur Versöhnung mit denen zu schaffen, an denen sie schuldig geworden ist: durch Gewalt, durch die Vorenthaltung von Recht, durch die Verkehrung der biblischen Freiheitsbotschaft in eine rigorose Moral ohne Barmherzigkeit.

6. Gottesdienst: Die Liturgie lebt von der aktiven Teilnahme aller Gläubigen. Erfahrungen und Ausdrucksformen der Gegenwart müssen in ihr einen Platz haben. Der Gottesdienst darf nicht in Traditionalismus erstarren. Kulturelle Vielfalt bereichert das gottesdienstliche Leben und verträgt sich nicht mit Tendenzen zur zentralistischen Vereinheitlichung. Nur wenn die Feier des Glaubens konkrete Lebenssituationen aufnimmt, wird die kirchliche Botschaft die Menschen erreichen.

Der begonnene kirchliche Dialogprozess kann zu Befreiung und Aufbruch führen, wenn alle Beteiligten bereit sind, die drängenden Fragen anzugehen. Es gilt, im freien und fairen Austausch von Argumenten nach Lösungen zu suchen, die die Kirche aus ihrer lähmenden Selbstbeschäftigung herausführen. Dem Sturm des letzten Jahres darf keine Ruhe folgen! In der gegenwärtigen Lage könnte das nur Grabesruhe sein. Angst war noch nie ein guter Ratgeber in Zeiten der Krise. Christinnen und Christen sind vom Evangelium dazu aufgefordert, mit Mut in die Zukunft zu blicken und - auf Jesu Wort hin - wie Petrus übers Wasser zu gehen: "Warum habt ihr solche Angst? Ist euer Glaube so klein?"

Die Unterzeichner
Albus, Michael, Universität Freiburg Anzenbacher, Arno, Universität Mainz Arens, Edmund, Universität Luzern Autiero, Antonio; Universität Münster Bäumer, Franz Josef, Universität Gießen Baumgartner, Isidor, Universität Passau Bechmann, Ulrike, Universität Graz Belok, Manfred, Theologische Hochschule Chur Benk, Andreas, Pädagogische Hochschule Schwäbisch-Gmünd Bieberstein, Klaus, Universität Bamberg, Bieberstein, Sabine, Katholische Universität Eichstätt Biesinger, Albert, Universität Tübingen Bischof, Franz Xaver, LMU München Blasberg-Kuhnke, Martina, Universität Osnabrück Böhnke, Michael, Universität Wuppertal Bopp, Karl SDB, Phil.-Theol. Hochschule Benediktbeuern Bremer, Thomas, Universität Münster Brosseder, Johannes, Universität zu Köln Broer, Ingo, Universität Siegen Bucher, Anton A., Universität Salzburg Collet, Giancarlo, Universität Münster Dautzenberg, Gerhard, Universität Gießen Demel, Sabine, Universität Regensburg Droesser, Gerhard, Universität Würzburg Eckholt, Margit, Universität Osnabrück Emunds, Bernhard, Phil.-Theol. Hochschule St. Georgen Ernst, Stephan, Universität Würzburg Feiter, Reinhard, Universität Münster Franz, Albert, Universität Dresden Frevel, Christian, Universität Bochum Fröhling, Edward SAC, Phil.-Theol. Hochschule Vallendar Fuchs, Ottmar, Universität Tübingen Fürst, Alfons, Universität Münster Gabriel, Karl, Universität Münster Garhammer, Erich, Universität Würzburg Göllner, Reinhard, Universität Bochum Görtz, Heinz-Jürgen, Universität Hannover Goertz, Stephan, Universität Mainz Grümme, Bernhard, Pädagogische Hochschule Ludwigsburg Häfner, Gerd, LMU München Haker, Hille, Universität Frankfurt am Main, Chicago Hartmann, Richard, Theologische Fakultät Fulda Heimbach-Steins, Marianne, Universität Münster Heinz, Hanspeter, Universität Augsburg Hemel, Ulrich, Universität Regensburg Hengsbach, Friedhelm SJ, Phil.-Theol. Hochschule St. Georgen Hilberath, Bernd-Jochen, Universität Tübingen Hilpert, Konrad, LMU München Höfer, Rudolf, Universität Graz Höhn, Hans-Joachim, Universität zu Köln Hoffmann, Johannes, Universität Frankfurt am Main Hoffmann, Paul, Universität Bamberg Holderegger, Adrian, Universität Freiburg(Schweiz) Holzem, Andreas, Universität Tübingen Hünermann, Peter, Universität Tübingen Jäggle, Martin, Universität Wien Jorissen, Hans, Universität Bonn Kampling, Rainer, Universität Berlin Karrer, Leo, Universität Freiburg/Schweiz Kern, Walter, Pädagogische Hochschule Ludwigsburg Kessler, Hans, Universität Frankfurt am Main Kienzler, Klaus, Universität Augsburg Kirchschläger, Walter, Universität Luzern Knobloch, Stefan, OFMCap, Universität Mainz Könemann, Judith, Universität Münster Kohler-Spiegel, Helga, Pädagogische Hochschule Feldkirch/Vorarlberg Kos, Elmar, Universität Vechta Kraus, Georg, Universität Bamberg Kruip, Gerhard, Universität Mainz Kügler, Joachim, Universität Bamberg Kuhnke, Ulrich, Hochschule Osnabrück Kuld, Lothar, Pädagogische Hochschule Weingarten Ladenhauf, Karl-Heinz, Universität Graz Lang, Bernhard, Universität Paderborn Langer, Wolfgang, Perchtolsdorf Lesch, Karl Josef, Universität Vechta Loretan, Adrian, Universität Luzern Lüdicke, Klaus, Universität Münster Ludwig, Heiner, TU Darmstadt Lutterbach, Hubertus, Universität Duisburg-Essen Maier, Joachim, Schriesheim Meier, Johannes, Universität Mainz Mennekes, Friedhelm SJ, Köln Merks, Karl-Wilhelm, Bonn Mette, Norbert, Technische Universität Dortmund Michel, Andreas, Universität zu Köln Mieth, Dietmar, Universitäten Erfurt und Tübingen Missala, Heinrich, Universität Duisburg-Essen Möhring-Hesse, Matthias, Universität Vechta Mooney, Hilary, Pädagogische Hochschule Weingarten Müller, Klaus, Universität Münster Müllner, Ilse, Universität Kassel Nauer, Doris, Phil.-Theol. Hochschule Vallendar Neuner, Peter, LMU München Niederschlag, Heribert SAC, Phil.-Theol. Hochschule Vallendar Odenthal, Andreas, Universität Tübingen Ollig, Hans-Ludwig SJ, Phil.-Theol. Hochschule St. Georgen Pellegrini, Silvia, Universität Vechta Pemsel-Maier, Sabine, Pädagogische Hochschule Karlsruhe Pesch, Otto Hermann, Universität Hamburg Pock, Johann, Universität Wien Poplutz, Uta, Universität Wuppertal Porzelt, Burkard, Universität Regensburg Raske, Michael, Universität Frankfurt am Main Richter, Klemens, Universität Münster Roebben, Bert, Universität Dortmund Rotter, Hans, Universität Innsbruck Sauer, Ralph, Universität Vechta Schäper, Sabine, Katholische Fachhochschule Münster Schmälzle, Udo, Universität Münster Schmidt, Thomas M., Universität Frankfurt am Main Schmiedl, Joachim, Phil.-Theol. Hochschule Vallendar Schockenhoff, Eberhard, Universität Freiburg Scholl, Norbert, Pädagogische Hochschule Heidelberg Schulz, Ehrenfried, LMU München Schreiber, Stefan, Universität Augsburg Schreijaeck, Thomas, Universität Frankfurt am Main Schüller, Thomas, Universität Münster Schüngel-Straumann, Helen, Universität Kassel / Basel Seeliger, Hans-Reinhard, Universität Tübingen Siller, Hermann Pius, Universität Frankfurt am Main Simon, Werner, Universität Mainz Spiegel, Egon, Universität Vechta Steinkamp, Hermann, Universität Münster Steins, Georg, Universität Osnabrück Stosch, Klaus von, Universität Paderborn Striet, Magnus, Universität Freiburg Strotmann, Angelika, Universität Paderborn Theobald, Michael, Universität Tübingen Trautmann, Franz, Pädagogische Hochschule Schwäbisch-Gmünd Trautmann, Maria, Katholische Universität Eichstätt Trocholepczy, Bernd, Universität Frankfurt am Main Vogt, Markus, LMU München Wacker, Marie-Theres, Universität Münster Wahl, Heribert, Universität Trier Walter, Peter, Universität Freiburg Weirer, Wolfgang, Universität Graz Wendel, Saskia, Universität zu Köln Wenzel, Knut, Universität Frankfurt am Main Werbick, Jürgen, Universität Münster Willers, Ulrich, Katholische Universität Eichstätt Ziebertz, Hans-Georg, Universität Würzburg Zwick, Reinhold, Universität Münster

Friday, February 4, 2011

In giving, do we receive?

Leonardo Boff's weekly columns are available in Spanish from Servicios Koinonia. Some of his older columns are available in English at LeonardoBoff.com.

by Leonardo Boff (English translation by Rebel Girl)
2/4/2011

We are in the government's staging period. There are disputes over offices and duties on the part of parties and politicians. Negotiations are taking place, laden with interests and a lot of vanity. In this context, we hear mentioned this topic of the inspiring prayer of St. Francis for peace, "it is in giving that we receive", to justify the exchange of favors and support where there's also a lot of money. It's a clumsy manipulation of the generous and selfless spirit of St. Francis. But let's put aside these deviations and look at its true meaning.

There are two economies: the one of material goods and the one of spiritual goods. They each follow different logics. In the economy of material goods, the more you give goods, clothes, houses, land and money, the less you have. If someone gives without prudence and spends without control, he ends up in poverty. In the economy of the spiritual, on the contrary, the more you give, the more you get; the more you give up, the more you have. That is, the more you give love, devotion and acceptance (spiritual things), the more you gain as a person and the more you rise in the esteem of others. Spiritual goods are like love: they multiply when divided. Or, like fire, they increase as they spread.

We understand this paradox, considering the basic structure of the human being. He is a being of unlimited relationships. The more he relates to others, or rather, reaches out of himself towards the other, the one who is different, nature and God, that is, the more he gives acceptance and love, the richer he is, the more he is decorated with values, the more he grows and radiates as a person.

Therefore, it is in giving that one receives. Many times you get so much more than what you give. Isn't this the experience witnessed by so many who give time, dedication and goods to help victims of the social and environmental catastrophe that occurred in the hilltop cities of Rio de Janeiro, during this sad month of January, when hundreds were killed and thousands left homeless? This selfless "giving" produces a tremendous spiritual effect that is feeling more human and enriched. They become good people, so needed today.

When someone who has, gives their property within the economic logic of spiritual goods to support those who lost everything and help them rebuild their lives and homes, they experience the inner satisfaction of being with someone in need and can testify to what St. Paul said: "It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35). Someone who isn't poor feels spiritually rich.

There is therefore a circular relationship between giving and receiving, a true reciprocity. This represents, in a larger sense, the logic of the universe, as biologists and astrophysicists never tire of emphasizing. Everything -- galaxies, stars, planets, inorganic and organic beings, even the elementary particles -- everything is structured in an extremely intricate network of inter-retro-relationships of all with all. All things co-exist, inter-exist, they help each other, give and receive reciprocally what they need to co-exist and evolve within a subtle dynamic balance.

Our tragedy is that we learn nothing from nature. We take everything from the Earth and don't give anything back, not even time to rest and regenerate. We only receive and we give nothing. This lack of reciprocity has brought the Earth to the current imbalance.

Therefore it's urgent to vigorously incorporate the economy of the spiritual into the economy of material goods. Only then will we restore the reciprocity of giving and receiving. There would be less wealth in the hands of the few and the many poor would stop being in need and could sit at the table, eating and drinking the fruit of their labor. It makes more sense to share than accumulate, to enhance the well-being of all rather than greedily seek the private good. What do we take from the Earth? Only the spiritual capital goods. The material capital stays.

The important thing is to give, give ... and give again. Only then do you receive. And the Franciscan truth is proven -- that "it is in giving that we receive" uninterrupted love, appreciation and forgiveness. Beyond that, everything is commerce and a vanity fair.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

2011 Congress on Urban Ministry

If you are interested in effective urban ministry, or even just in progressive Christology, this biennial inter-denominational Congress on Urban Ministry is for you. It will take place March 1-4, 2011 at the Hyatt McCormick Place in Chicago and you can still get the special early registration rate ($260) if you register before February 18th. Continuing education credit is also available from SCUPE.

The theme of this year's congress is "Peacemaking in a Culture of Violence" and the schedule provides a perfect balance of worship/reflection, study, and action. There will be great speakers and opportunities to explore some of the most effective examples of urban ministry in Chicago. To whet your appetites:

Tuesday March 1 – Peacemaking in a Culture of Violence
2:00pm Registration Begins
3:00pm 'L' Ministry Tour
7:00–8:30pm Worship–James Forbes & Michael Pfleger

Wednesday March 2 – Reclaiming the Radical Christ
7:30am Morning Prayer
8:00–9:00am Bible Study–TBA
9:00–10:00am Plenary–Obery Hendricks
10:00–10:30am Break
10:30–12:00am Workshops I
12:00–1:30pm Lunch
1:30–3:00pm Plenary–Walter Brueggemann
3:00–4:30pm Workshops II / Site Visits
4:30–7:00pm Dinner
7:00–8:30pm Eve Worship–Renita Weems
8:30–10:00pm Evening of Poetry

Thursday March 3 – Empowering Church & Community
7:30am Morning Prayer
8:00-9:00am Bible Study–Otis Moss III
9:00-10:00am AM Plenary–Mindy Fullilove
10:00-10:30am Break / Public Action
10:30-12:00pm Workshops III / Public Action
12:00-1:30pm Lunch / Public Action
1:30-3:00pm PM Plenary–Mary Gonzales
3:00-4:30pm Workshops IV / Site Visits
4:30-7:00pm Dinner
7:00-8:30pm Eve Worship–Shane Claiborne
8:30-10:00pm Concert–Bill Mallonee

Friday March 4 – A Plan for Action & Transformation
7:30am Morning Prayer
8:00-9:00am Bible Study–Yvonne Delk
9:00-10:30am Interfaith Roundtable
10:30-11:00am Break
11:00-12:30pm Closing Worship–James Forbes & Michael Pfleger

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Teresa Forcades at the Unió de Religiosos de Catalunya

Sr. Teresa Forcades participated in a panel on January 22, 2011 at a symposium organized in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Unió de Religiosos de Catalunya, an organization of men and women religious. The panel was on the prophetic nature of religious life in the Christianity of the diaspora. Sr. Teresa shared the stage with a Jesuit, Fr. Jesús Renau, and Sister of the Sacred Heart Margarida Bofarull. For those who want to practice their Catalan, here is a video of a portion of Sr. Teresa's remarks:



A video of all participants in this session can be found here.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Immigration news round-up 1/31/2011

We haven't done one of these since last year, before the Senate killed the DREAM Act right before the Christmas recess, and before the dreams of two friends, Marco and Neptali, and their families, were killed by deportation.

1. President Obama's 2011 aspirations for immigration reform:

While it was not a major part of his State of the Union address, President Obama did remember our nation's immigrants and the need to give them a chance. Let's hope this translates into action this time. Here's what the president said:

...Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens. Some are the children of undocumented workers, who had nothing to do with the actions of their parents. They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet they live every day with the threat of deportation. Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us. It makes no sense.

Now, I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration. And I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows. I know that debate will be difficult. I know it will take time. But tonight, let’s agree to make that effort. And let’s stop expelling talented, responsible young people who could be staffing our research labs or starting a new business, who could be further enriching this nation...


2. Report finds immigration law not enforced consistently:

Some local law enforcement agencies, particularly in the Southeast, are turning over illegal immigrants who commit even minor offenses to federal authorities for deportation, while others are focused on deporting more violent criminals, according to a report released this week by the Migration Policy Institute. The study focused on the 287(g) program issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The report said ICE needs to do more to ensure consistency in the program, which critics have said has given rise to racial profiling and civil rights violations.

3. Arizona proposal would alter birthright citizenship:

Legislation to end citizenship for U.S.-born kids of undocumented immigrants was introduced last week in the Arizona Legislature and is part of an effort planned in about a dozen states to end automatic citizenship for children born in the United States to undocumented immigrants, said Arizona state Rep. John Kavanagh, a Republican who is one of primary sponsors of the bill in the House (HB 2561/SB 1309).

A similar study on this subject by the Migration Policy Institute last year found that: "Repeal of birthright citizenship for the US-born children of unauthorized immigrants would expand the unauthorized population by at least 5 million over the next four decades. This analysis suggests that there would be 4.7 million unauthorized immigrants as of 2050 who had been born in the United States — 1 million of them with US-born mother and father — if birthright citizenship were denied to children born to parents who are both unauthorized."

4. Keeping "them" out of Virginia:

Virginia is giving Arizona a run for its money with a flurry anti-immigrant legislation this year. Among the proposals being floated in Richmond:

  • a bill (HB 1775) at the state level that would require students enrolling in public schools to indicate their citizenship or immigration status. The bill provides that the child must still be admitted into public school, but the immigration status information must be reported to the secretary of education annually.
  • another bill (HB 1465) would amend state law to explicitly prohibit people who are in the United States illegally from being admitted to Virginia's public two-year or four-year institutions. Federal law prohibits such people from paying in-state tuition at colleges and universities, but they can still pursue a public college education. Virginia's public universities currently have the discretion to decide whether to admit illegal aliens as long as they charge out-of-state tuition.
  • Other bills would require departments of social services to verify someone's legal status (HB 1468) before supplying them with public benefits, and require sheriffs to question the status of anyone arrested (HB 1430), a move to supplement existing state law that requires them to do so when a person is “taken into custody” at a jail. A companion bill (HB 1421) would prevent Virginia localities from restricting “the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.” Any locality that does not comply with the order would risk losing state funding. A complete list of 2011 anti-immigrant legislative initiatives may be found here.

"In a perfect world, I would like to be able to kick out every single person who’s an illegal alien in Virginia.” -- VA Delegate Dave Albo (R - Fairfax)

5. Unconstitutional and Costly: The High Price of Local Immigration Enforcement

A new report by the Center for American Progress's Gebe Martinez studies the economic and other costs of piecemeal immigration enforcement efforts in five communities: Hazleton, PA, Riverside, NJ, Farmers Branch, TX, Prince William County, VA and Fremont, NE. Martinez's conclusion? "Local action against undocumented immigrants is a losing proposition. [We] have to tell Congress that national immigration reform simply cannot be put off any longer."

6. Unauthorized Immigrant Population: National and State Trends, 2010

As of March 2010, 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants were living in the United States, virtually unchanged from a year earlier, according to new estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center. This stability in 2010 follows a two-year decline from the peak of 12 million in 2007 to 11.1 million in 2009 that was the first significant reversal in a two-decade pattern of growth. Unauthorized immigrants were 3.7% of the nation's population in 2010.

This latest Pew study also found that the number of children born to at least one unauthorized-immigrant parent in 2009 was 350,000 and they made up 8% of all U.S. births, essentially the same as a year earlier. An analysis of the year of entry of unauthorized immigrants who became parents in 2009 indicates that 61% arrived in the U.S. before 2004, 30% arrived from 2004 to 2007, and 9% arrived from 2008 to 2010. These statistics would tend to contradict the "anchor baby" theorists, since the babies are being born to individuals who have clearly been in the United States for a while and are more indicative of the natural process of settling down in a given location.

7. The Church and Immigration Reform

a) The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops produced some particularly lovely and powerful resources for this year's National Migration Week, including a poster, rosary reflections, a prayer for migrant and refugee families and a bulletin insert. The resources are available in English and Spanish and can be downloaded as PDFs or ordered in bulk. Highly recommended.

b) "Immigration and The Church: Social and Policy Perspectives" -- This conference sponsored by the USCCB will take place on March 21, 2011 from 10 AM - 4 PM in Caldwell Auditorium, Catholic University of America, Washington, DC. Click here for more information and a list of speakers.

c) The current chairman of the bishops' Committee on Migration, Coadjutor Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, testified last week before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement. He emphasized that Congress should:

1. Prioritize and pursue comprehensive immigration reform in lieu of enforcement-only measures to address the issues of unauthorized immigration in the United States; and

2. De-emphasize the use of workplace raids – in which immigrants are detained and families are separated – as a measure to enforce immigration laws in the U.S. workplace.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Teresa Forcades at Lleida

by Mireia González (English translation by Rebel Girl)
La Mañana
January 29, 2011

Doctor, theologian and Benedictine nun Teresa Forcades said yesterday in Lleida that what in 2009 was called the "influenza A pandemic" was, in reality, "a case of corruption."

Forcades, who is known for her criticism of the actions of the multinational pharmaceutical companies in general, and in particular of how the so-called Influenza A pandemic of 2009 was handled, was reflecting yesterday at the Lleida Museum about the concept of co-redemption in a lecture titled "Giving Birth to the Light."

The conference room at the Lleida Museum was small for all the people who came to hear Teresa Forcades yesterday. In fact, there were even people who came an hour early to secure a good seat. Giving birth to the Light is, for Forcades, the very core of Christian theology and spirituality, since "God can only be experienced if He is somehow born in us. This is what the Virgin Mary experienced in a very specific way, but what's interesting is applying it to every person."

But beyond vindicating the role of women, giving birth to the Light means that "males are also called to give birth to the divine Light. It's one of those things that interests me most about Christianity, that there are not separate gender roles in the area of spirituality, but instead it tells us that each person is unique and each person is called to give birth to the Light. And now, yes, in this giving birth to the Light all of us, men and women, take as role models this woman, Mary, and all those who, throughout history, have let themselves be made fertile by God and have tried in their historical context to give birth to this light of Jesus."

During the flu campaign, Forcades thinks it was quite clear, especially in the Council of Europe's study, The False Pandemic, that what has been called the Influenza A pandemic, wasn't. "Instead of addressing the interests of the general population, what they did was address some very special interests, so it's a case of corruption."

"What we have to do is make preparatory plans for a pandemic so that nobody can trade on it, that is, that detecting a health scare can't be a business deal for anyone. Because if someone has an interest in its existence, it will exist," Forcades stated.

The doctor and theologian avoided talking about the art litigation*, saying that the only thing she would wish "as a member of the Church would be that this be resolved in an exemplary manner, in the sense that there would be a cordial agreement."

* Translator's note: This last question appears to refer to an ongoing dispute over some items of religious art that is currently under litigation between the dioceses of Lleida and Barbastro-Monzón.