Friday, May 13, 2011

Sr. Teresa Forcades at presentation of "Queremos el pan y las rosas". Emancipación de las mujeres y cristianismo

Trying to keep our collection of Sr. Teresa Forcades appearances complete, here the Benedictine nun and theologian joins colleagues at the March 17, 2011 introduction of Lucía Ramón's new book "Queremos el pan y las rosas". Emancipación de las mujeres y cristianismo ["We want bread and roses": Women's liberation and Christianity]. Other videos available of Ms. Ramón of Cristianisme i Justícia, Victoria Camps, moral and political philosophy professor at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, and Rafael Díaz-Salazar, sociology professor at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Sr. Teresa is speaking in Catalan (below); the others in Spanish.

Justice has not been done, only revenge

Leonardo Boff's weekly columns are available in Spanish from Servicios Koinonia and in Portuguese on his blog. Some of his older columns are available in English at

by Leonardo Boff (English translation by Rebel Girl)

One would need to be one's own enemy and against basic humanitarian values to approve Al Qaeda's nefarious crime of terrorism on September 11, 2001 in New York. But it is wholly unacceptable that a state -- the world's most powerful one in the military arena-- has transformed itself into a terrorist state to respond to terrorism. Bush did that, limiting democracy and suspending the unconditional validity of certain rights, which were the pride of the country. He did more: he led two wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, which devastated one of the oldest cultures of humanity, and in which more than hundred thousand people have been killed and more than a million displaced.

The question bears repeating that almost no one is interested in asking: why did such terrorist acts happen? Bishop Robert Bowman of Melbourne Beach, Florida, who was formerly a military fighter pilot during the Vietnam War, answered clearly in the National Catholic Reporter, in an open letter to the President: "We are the target of terrorists because, in much of the world, our
government stands for dictatorship, bondage and human exploitation. We are the target of terrorists because we are hated. And we are hated because our government has done hateful things."

Richard Clarke, the person at the White House responsible for counter-terrorism, said the same thing in an interview with Jorge Pontual aired on Globonews on 2/28/2010 and repeated on 5/3/2011. He had warned the CIA and President Bush that an attack by Al Qaeda in New York was imminent. They didn't listen to him. Then it happened, which filled him with rage. That anger against the government grew when he saw Bush, with lies and falsehoods, and out of sheer will to maintain imperial world hegemony, declare a war against Iraq that had no connection with September 11. The anger reached a point where, for health and decency, he resigned.

More blunt was Chalmers Johnson, one of the leading analysts of the CIA, also in an interview with the same journalist, on May 2 this year. He had inside knowledge of the evil that the more than 800 U.S. military bases, distributed throughout the world, produce because they raise anger and revolt among the people, a breeding ground for terrorism. He quoted Eduardo Galeano's book Open Veins of Latin America to illustrate the brutality that American intelligence agencies committed here. He denounced the imperial character of governments, based on the use of intelligence that recommend coups, organize the assassination of leaders and teach how to torture. In protest, he resigned and became a professor of history at the University of California. He wrote the three volume series, Blowback, in which he foresaw, a few months in advance, acts of revenge against U.S. arrogance in the world. He has been regarded as the prophet of September 11.

This is the backdrop against which to understand the current situation which led to the criminal execution of Osama bin Laden.

The U.S. intelligence agencies are failures. For ten consecutive years, they have swept the world to hunt down bin Laden. They accomplished nothing. Only by using an immoral method, the torture of Bin Laden's messenger, did they manage to reach his hideout. Therefore, they have no merit of their own.

In this hunt, everything is under the sign of immorality, shame and crime. First, President Barack Obama, as if he were a "god", determined the execution/killing of bin Laden. That goes against the universal ethical principle of "no killing" and international agreements that prescribe imprisonment, trial and punishment of the accused. This was done with Iraq's Hussein, the Nazi criminals at Nuremberg, with Eichmann in Israel and other accused persons. With bin Laden, they preferred deliberate execution, a crime for which Barack Obama will have to answer someday. On the other hand, the territory of Pakistan was invaded without any notice of the operation. Then the body was held hostage and tossed into the sea, a crime against family piety, a right that every family has to bury their dead, criminals or not, because however evil they were, they never stopped being human.

Justice has not been done. Revenge has been taken, which is always condemnable. "Vengeance is mine" says the God of the Scriptures of the three Abrahamic religions. Now we are under the power of an Emperor on whom the accusation of murder rests. And the necrophilia of the crowds diminishes and shames us all.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The duel between life and death

Leonardo Boff's weekly columns are available in Spanish from Servicios Koinonia and in Portuguese on his blog. Some of his older columns are available in English at

by Leonardo Boff (English translation by Rebel Girl)

In one of the most beautiful hymns of the Christian liturgy of Easter, which comes from the 13th century, one sings that "life and death were locked in a duel; the Lord of life died, but now reigns alive." This is the Christian meaning of Easter: the reversal of the terms of combat. What seemed like defeat was really a strategy to beat the winner, that is, death. That's why grass didn't grow on Jesus' grave. Risen, He guarantees the supremacy of life.

The message comes from the religious field which falls within what is deepest in the human being, but its meaning is not restricted to it. It acquires a universal significance, especially nowadays, when life and death are truly and physically locked in a duel. This duel takes place on all fronts and its battlefield is the entire planet, involving the whole community of life and all humanity.

This is happening because, belatedly, we are realizing that the lifestyle we have chosen in recent centuries implies a real war against the Earth. In the desire to seek wealth and increase indiscriminate consumption (63% of U.S. GDP consists of consumption, which has become a real consumer culture), all available services and resources of Mother Earth are being looted.

In recent times, there has been growing collective awareness that a real duel has been entered into between the natural mechanisms of life and the artificial mechanisms of death triggered by our system of living, producing, consuming and treating waste. The first victims of this total war are us human beings ourselves. Most live with inadequate means, dwelling in favelas and super exploited in the workforce. The suffering, frustration and humiliation that hide here are unspeakable. These are times of new barbarism, denounced by many global thinkers, such as Tzvetan Todorov recently in his book The Fear of Barbarians (2010). These realities that really count because they make us human or cruel, are not included in the profit calculations of any company and are not considered in the GDP of countries except Bhutan, which established the Gross National Happiness index of its people. The other victims are all the ecosystems, biodiversity and the Earth as a whole.

Recently, the Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugmann revealed that 400 North American families alone hold an income higher than 46% of American working people. This wealth doesn't fall from heaven. It's made through accumulation strategies that include traps, financial overspeculation and pure and simple theft of the fruits of labor of millions of people.

For the current system -- and we must spell it out -- the unlimited accumulation of profit is considered intelligence, the plundering of public and natural resources artfulness, fraud ability, corruption cunning, and unbridled exploitation management wisdom. It is the triumph of death. Is it possible that in this duel it will have the upper hand?

What we can say with complete confidence is that in this war, we have no chance of winning over the Earth. She existed without us and can continue without us. We do need her. The system within which we live is terrifyingly irrational, as befits really demented beings.

Analysts of the global ecological footprint on the Earth tell us that, due to a combination of the many existing crises, we may experience eco-humanitarian tragedies of extreme gravity in the not too distant future.

In this context, it is fitting to update and listen to the message of Easter. It's possible that we will not escape a painful Good Friday, but then comes the Resurrection. Earth and Humanity will still live.