Monday, October 22, 2012

Juan José Tamayo: "The marginalization of women is the greatest blasphemy of Christianity"

by R. Pérez Barredo (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Diario de Burgos
October 18, 2012

If, as León Felipe would write, words are a brick, with Tamayo's (Amusco, Palencia, 1946) the highest tower could rise. A tower of headlines, words like punches. A free soul, proscribed by the hierarchy of the Church, this lucid and courageous man spoke yesterday in Burgos, invited by Iglesia Viva ("Church Alive"), on the utopia of a lay church.

They just vetoed you in Barcelona for a talk like this. Is the hierarchy so afraid of those who depart from the official script?

That word "fear" is apt. At this time, the hierarchy is afraid of what's new, what's creative, what involves bringing new answers to new problems. The hierarchy is always more comfortable in general -- most of it -- looking backward than being in the present, looking longingly at what happened in the past, at tradition, rather than responding to the challenges of society. That's why when certain theologians or Christian religious personalities propose alternatives, they get scared and turn to their crosiers not to herd the sheep, but to beat them.

That obstinacy, being anchored in the past, that one track mindedness, doesn't it hurt Church?

Of course. If anything has characterized the Church over these 2,000 years of history, it's been diversity -- organizational, theological, litugical, in answers to moral problems...A plurality of models at all levels. This is why the uniformity and single-mindedness that they want to impose today is so surprising.

Do we need a new Vatican II now more than ever?

No. It would be a look backwards. Vatican II was an excellent initiative by John XXIII, who realized that the Church was anchored in the past and, from the cultural point of view, living in the paradigm of the Middle Ages. He realized that it was necessary to adapt the Church to the new society, the new historical era, the cultural changes. The Second Vatican Council responded very accurately to the problems the world had raised then. And today we have to respond in a different, more creative way. We don't have to look back at Vatican II except to recover the best of that heritage, a heritage we must activate and improve.

What could be considered?

Maybe a Council, but not in the classical style, and henceforth not at the Vatican. I think that everything that has to do with the Vatican reflects centralism, authoritarianism, verticality, lack of respect for pluralism...Today one would need a Council, but not the classical kind that's aristocratic, where only the mitred -- the hierarchs -- would participate. Right now, I think we need a universal assembly of the whole People of God, the whole Christian community. And it shouldn't take place at the Vatican which doesn't reflect the universality of the Church. If there has to be a new Council, it would have to take place in the Third World, where Christianity is showing more vitality and commitment to the poor.

How is it possible that we have experienced an involution, that, far from moving forward with the times, the Church has regressed and become more conservative? Or would we have to say neoconservative?

I think that expression "neo" reflects the current situation of the Church very well. All trends prefaced by the term "new" are often worse than the original brand. It's correct to say "neoconservatism" because the Church is currently doing a restoration of the past, the development of traditional thinking that doesn't belong to this historical moment. As such, it's an element that's even more negative than conservatism was, to which it has added some fundamentalist approaches with a certain fanatical inclination.

There are some who don't understand how the hierarchy has gone so far astray from Jesus' words, from being on the side of the disenfranchised of the earth. That's liberation theology and, nonetheless, it's been persecuted inquisitorially.

Let's come back again to the word you used at the beginning, and that's "fear". When liberation theology is condemned, you're not condemning a doctrinal deviation or a heresy. What's behind these condemnations?

Fear of the poor, of the remoteness of the poor. Those who condemn, the inquisitors (who still exist) are seated in positions of power, in environments of privilege, in a powerful social place. When they see that a part of the Church has changed its social place, they are denouncing where most of the hierarchy are installed in the established order. That's the great betrayal of Jesus' Gospel.

You've denounced the humiliating role of women within the Church. How could this situation be reversed?

It's the greatest scandal that the Catholic Church is giving to the world. Twenty centuries after the birth of Christianity, two and a half centuries after feminism as a theory of equality and the social movement to fight for women's emancipation, I think it's scandalous that the Church not only hasn't moved towards equality, but is taking quicker and quicker steps towards inequality. Women are the majority in the Church and, oddly, a silent and silenced majority. They're the ones bearing the brunt of it. They aren't considered moral, religious, visible, sacramental, ecclesial or theological subjects. They are marginalized in every sense. The marginalization of women is the great blasphemy of Christianity. But, curiously, a very peculiar phenomenon is happening. Despite all this, women are the most faithful followers of hierarchical guidelines. Feminist theology is one of the great hopes for the future of the Church. However, the hierarchy reacts and ends up chasing women away, just as they did with the young people and the intellectuals. If it goes on like this, Catholicism will become a deserted area.

Does the future of Christianity happen by stemming this exodus and bringing people back, through a lay Church, which is the utopia you're advocating?

Of course. Without lay people, there is no Church. The clerical Church is one of the great betrayals of the Gospel of Jesus. The beginning wasn't the Church but Jesus' egalitarian movement, a movement of men and women. The regeneration of the Church should happen through this utopia of a lay Church, because its base is the people.

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