Friday, November 16, 2012

Note on the Participants in the Celebration of the Pact of the Catacombs, Catacomb of Saint Domitilla, Rome, November 16, 1965

This document by Fr. José Oscar Beozzo is available in its original Portuguese on the website of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. It is part of a collection of documents celebrating the 2009 centennial of Dom Helder Camara. English translation by Rebel Girl

Actually, I've had access to two attendance lists, at different points in the Council (1962 and 1964), of the bishops who participated in the "Church of the Poor" Group. Those lists were among the papers of Cardinal Lercaro, deposited at the Istituto per le Scienze Religose in Bologna.

However, I don't have the list of those 39 bishops who were in the celebration of Mass at the Catacomb of Saint Domitilla on November 16, 1965, when they signed the Pact of the Catacombs. They wanted to have a discreet celebration away from the press, with few bishops (originally it was supposed to be only 20), to prevent their gesture of simplicity and commitment from being interpreted as a "lesson" to the other bishops. So much so that the first news of the celebration only appeared in a note by Henri Fesquet in the newspaper Le Monde, more than three weeks later, at the close of the Council on December 8, 1965, under the title "Un groupe d'évêquês anonymes s'engage à donner le témoignage extérieur d'une vie de stricte pauvreté” ("A group og anonymous bishops commit themselves to giving external witness to a life of strict poverty" -- Henri Fesquet, in Journal du Concile. Forcalquier: Robert Morel Editeur, 1966, pp. 1110-1113). The news item didn't name names.

A list exists of those who participated in that celebration. It can be found among the papers of Msgr. Charles Marie Himmer, bishop of Tournai in Belgium, who presided at the concelebration that morning and gave the homily. It's document 80 of the "Papiers Himmer" deposited in the Vatican II Archives at the University of Louvain. I didn't have access to this document but it's possible to request it from the university, if Jon Sobrino or PUC-Rio is interested. M. Lamberigts, professor of History at Louvain and Claude Soetens, also a historian at Louvain-la-Neuve could eventually locate the document.

I can say that from Brazil, [the following bishops] participated in the celebration: Dom Antônio Fragoso (Crateús-CE), Dom Francisco Austregésilo Mesquita Filho (Afogados da Ingazeira - PE), Dom João Batista da Mota e Albuquerque, archbishop of Vitória, ES, Fr. Luiz Gonzaga Fernandes who was to be consecrated auxilliary bishop of Vitória a few days later right there in Rome, Dom Jorge Marcos de Oliveira (Santo André-SP), Dom Helder Camara, Dom Henrique Golland Trindade, OFM, archbishop of Botucatu, SP, Dom José Maria Pires, archbishop of Paraíba, PB.

From other countries: Mgr. Georges Mercier, bishop of Laghouat in the Sahara, Mgr. Hakim, Melchite bishop of Nazareth, Mgr. Haddad, Melchite bishop, auxilliary bishop of Beirut, Mgr. Gérard Marie Coderre, bishop of Saint Jean de Quebec in Canada, Mons. Rafael Gonzalez Moralejo, auxilliary bishop of Valencia in Spain, Mons. Julius Angerhausen, auxilliary bishop of Essen in Germany; from France, Mgr. Guy Marie Riobé, bishop of Orleans, Mgr. Gérard Huyghe de Arras, Mgr. Adrien Gand, auxilliary bishop to Cardinal Liénart in Lille; from Italy, Mons. Luigi Betazzi, auxilliary bishop to Cardinal Lercaro in Bologna in those days; from Africa, Dom Bernard Yago, archbishop of Abidjan in Ivory Coast, Joseph Blomjous, bishop of Mwanza, in Tanzania; from Asia, Mons. Charles Joseph de Melckebeke, a Belgian but bishop of Ningxia in China, expelled and dying in Singapore.

There were also bishops from Vietnam and Indonesia. From other countries in Latin America, those who participated in the Church of the Poor group: Mons. Manuel Larrain from Talca in Chile, Mons. Marco Gregorio McGrath from Panama (Diocese of Santiago de Veraguas), Mons. Leonidas Proaño from Riobamba, Ecuador; from Argentina, Mons. Alberto Devoto from the Diocese of Goya, Mons. Vicente Faustino Zazpe from the Diocese of Rafaela, Mons. Juan José Iriarte from Reconquista; from Uruguay, Mons. Alfredo Viola, bishop of Salto and his auxilliary, Mons. Marcelo Mendiharat; from Colombia, Mons. Tulio Botero Salazar, archbishop of Medellín and his auxilliary, Medina; Muñoz Duque from Pamplona, Raúl Zambrano from Facatativá and Mons. Angelo Cuniberti, apostolic vicar of Florencia.

These were the most faithful of the group, but to know if they were there at the Mass, you have to check the list from that day.

I also know that Paul Gauthier and Marie Thérèse Lescaze, both French but living in Palestine and leaders of the Fraternity of Jesus the Carpenter in Nazareth and of the Church of the Poor Group at the Council, attended the celebration.

A more public moment of the "Church of the Poor" group occured in the third session, when two documents prepared there, in November 1964, received the support of more than 500 conciliar fathers: Simplicitas et paupertas evangélica (Simplicity and evangelical poverty) and Ut in nostro ministério primus locus pauperum evangelizationi tribuatur (So that in our [episcopal] ministry, first place is given to the evangelization of the poor).

José Oscar Beozzo
São Paulo, 6/26/2009

The reception of Vatican II in Brazil and Latin America

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)

We are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Vatican II (1962-1965). It marked a break from the direction that the Catholic Church had been following for centuries. It was a church that had come to be a fortress under siege, defensive against everything that came from the modern world, from science, technology and civilizational achievements such as democracy, human rights and the separation of church and state.

But there came a breath of fresh air from the hand of an old pope from whom nothing was expected -- John XXIII (d. 1963). He opened the doors and windows. He said that the church can't be a respectable museum; it has to be a home for everyone, airy and pleasant to live in.

First, the Council represented, in a phrase coined by John XXIII himself, an aggionamento, i.e. an updating and a reconstruction of how it saw itself and how it presented itself in the world.

Rather than list the main elements introduced by the Council, we are interested to see how that aggiornamento was picked up and translated by the Latin American Church and Brazil. This process is called reception and it is a rereading and application of the conciliar insights in the Latin American context, which is very different from the European one in which all the documents were produced. We will point out only some essential points.

The first was definitely the big change in the ecclesial atmosphere -- before the Council, "great discipline", Roman standardization, and the gloomy and outdated air of church life were predominant. The Churches of Latin America, Africa and Asia were mirror Churches of the Roman one. And suddenly they began to see themselves as source Churches. They could become inculturated and create new languages. Enthusiasm and courage to create radiated.

Second, in Latin America there was a redefinition of the Church's social place. Vatican II was a universal Council, but from the perspective of the rich center countries. That was how the Church defined itself in the modern world. But there was a sub-world of poverty and oppression that was captured by the Latin American Church. The latter had to move from the human center to the sub-human periphery. If there is oppression there, its mission should be liberation. The inspiration came from the words of Pope John XXIII: "The Church is of all but it wishes especially to be the Church of the poor."

In the various Latin American bishops' conferences from Medellin (1968) to Aparecida (2007), this change translated into solidarity and the preferential option for the poor, against poverty. An option that became the trademark of the Latin American Church and liberation theology.

Third is the concretization of the Church as the People of God. Vatican II put this class ahead of the Hierarchy. For the Latin American Church, "People of God" is not a metaphor. The vast majority of the people are Christian and Catholic, so they are the People of God, groaning under oppression as in ancient Egypt. Thus was born the liberation dimension that the Church officially assumed in all documents from Medellin (1968) to Aparecida (2007). This vision of the Church as the People of God made possible the emergence of the Christian base communities and the social ministries.

Fourth, the Council understood the Word of God contained in the Bible as the soul of the Church's life. This resulted in the popular reading of the Bible and thousands and thousands of Bible circles. In them, Christians compare the page of life with the page of the Bible and draw practical conclusions about communion, participation and liberation.

Fifth, the Council was open to human rights. In Latin America, these were translated into rights from the perspective of the poor and therefore, first, the right to life, work, health and education. From there, other rights are considered -- that of mobility, among others.

Sixth, the Council welcomed ecumenism among the Christian denominations. In Latin America ecumenism doesn't focus so much on the convergence of doctrines as on the convergence in practice -- all the denominations together work on the liberation of the oppressed. It's mission ecumenism.

Last, it established dialogue with other religions seeing in them the presence of the Spirit that comes before the missionary, therefore having to be respected with their values.

Finally, we must recognize that Latin America was the continent where Vatican II was taken most seriously and where the greatest transformations took place, projecting the Church of the poor as a challenge to the universal church and to all humanitarian minds.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

No one knows the day

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
November 12, 2012

Mark 13: 24-32

Better knowledge of apocalyptic language, which is constructed of symbolic images and resources to speak about the end of the world, allows us today to hear the hopeful message of Jesus, without falling into the temptation to sow anguish and terror in minds.

Someday the fascinating story of human beings on earth will come to an end. This was Jesus' firm belief. This is also the forecast of current science. The world isn't eternal. This life will end. What will become of our struggles and work, our efforts and aspirations?

Jesus speaks soberly. He doesn't want to feed any morbid curiosity. He nips in the bud any attempt to speculate about calculations, dates, or deadlines. "No one knows the day or the hour..., only the Father." Nothing of psychosis in face of the end. The world is in good hands. We are not journeying towards chaos. We can trust in God, our Creator and Father.

From this total trust, Jesus explains his hope: the current creation will end, but it will be to make way for a new creation which will have the risen Christ as its center. Is it possible to believe something so grand? Can we talk like this before anything has happened?

Jesus uses images that everyone can understand. One day, the sun and moon that light up the earth today and make life possible, will die out. The world will be dark. Will the history of mankind also die out? Will our hopes end thus?

According to Mark's version, in the middle of that night one will be able to see the "Son of Man", that is, the risen Christ who will come "with great power and glory." His saving light will illuminate everything. He will be the center of a new world, the beginning of a humanity renewed forever.

Jesus knows it isn't easy to believe his words. How can he prove that things will happen that way? With surprising simplicity, he invites us to live this life like springtime. Everyone knows that experience: life that seemed dead during the winter begins to stir; on the branches of the fig tree small leaves sprout again. Everyone knows that summer is near.

This life we now know is like the spring. It's not yet possible to reap. We can't get final achievements. But there are small signs that life is gestating. Our efforts for a better world will not be lost. No one knows the day, but Jesus will come. With his coming, the ultimate mystery of reality that believers call God will be revealed.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Call To Action 2012: "Justice Rising"

Last weekend, November 9-11, Call To Action held its annual gathering in Louisville, KY around the theme "Justice Rising." Over 400 participants converged on the Galt House Hotel to hear speakers from a variety of backgrounds.

The conference opened with an address from veteran civil rights activist Diane Nash, a Catholic, who spoke about what she called "agapic energy", her talk amply illustrated with specific examples from her experience with the lunch counter sit-ins to desegregate restaurants in Nashville, Tennessee. She laid out the principles of active nonviolence such as "people are never your enemy" and "oppression always requires the cooperation of the oppressed." Then she offered the 6 steps in an agapic energy campaign: 1) Investigation and goal-setting; 2) Education; 3) Negotiation; 4) Demonstrations; 5) Resistance, that is, the withdrawal of cooperation through such measures as economic boycotts and the creation of parallel structures; and 6) Taking measures to ensure that the problem doesn't reoccur. Finally, Nash reminded us that "freedom is not something you get and then you've got it. It's an unending struggle."

Another keynote speaker was Matthew Fox, the founder of creation spirituality, who is presently working on a book about the spirituality of the Occupy Movement. Fox's address ranged from cultural analysis (the "vampire archetype", according to Fox, is very popular among young people right now because they feel especially vulnerable in the current situation) to the Citizens United decision (a "scandal" and supported by Catholic justices so the Catholic community "has a special responsibility" to deal with this) to homosexuality ("the Galileo issue of our time") to the state of the Church. Citing Schillebeeckx, he said that the current papacy is "in schism" because "a Council trumps a Pope" and the current hierarchy has moved away from Vatican II while the people of God have not. "We are being invited to push the 'Restart' button on Christianity," said Fox, by which he meant moving away from pomp and triumphalism. "We don't have to travel with basilicas on our backs." Fox's word to the Church's leaders? "The hierarchy of the Church are only servants and if they aren't serving, they should get out of the way because the Holy Spirit has work to do."

Conference participants also heard from Imam Mohamed Abdul-Azeez who spoke about the impact of Arab Spring. He viewed it as positive in that it "humanized Muslims" in American eyes and that it "carries the potential to eradicate terrorism once and for all." Another benefit would be that increased stability and democracy in the Middle East would lead to reduced migration from those countries. He urged participants to study the life of the Prophet Mohamed and look more critically at their own country. "America needs an American Spring," Abdul-Azeez opined.

Smaller workshops were offered on a wide variety of subjects ranging from the work of Border Angels which saves the lives of border crossers, Homeboy Industries which helps young people get out of gangs and into gainful employment, and Mary's Pence which provides grants for women's economic development, to issues of gender justice and feminist theology.

Roman Catholic Women Priests and other groups that support women's ordination such as the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests and Women's Ordination Conference had a strong presence at the conference. On Saturday morning they led a vibrant liturgy and also hosted a caucus reflecting on the tenth anniversary of the Danube Seven. Three of the Danube Seven, Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger, Ida Raming, and Dagmar Celeste (who was ordained under the pseudonym "Angela White"), were present at the CTA meeting.

The final keynote speaker also came from this movement -- Roman Catholic woman bishop Patricia Fresen, a theologian and former Dominican nun from South Africa, who was ordained a priest in 2003 and a bishop in 2005 and now lives in Germany. Echoing the words of fellow theologian Hans Küng, Fresen gave a resounding call for a Church where there would be "Less Pope, More Jesus". She referred amusingly to her official excommunication and being called a "heretic" according to Canon 1024. She now uses the epithet and the canon law reference number as part of her e-mail address.

Fresen offered a stirring recollection of the role of women in Vatican II, holding them responsible for some of the strong language on discrimination that emerged in Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes. Like Fox, she emphasized the need for the Church to return to the Gospel. And she offered a virtual verbal slide show of all the recent forms of resistance within the ranks of the consecrated, ranging from the "Call To Disobedience" of the Austrian priests and the subsequent formation -- or reactivation -- of priests' associations in other countries, including the United States, to the solidarity shown to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious after their "doctrinal assessment" by the Vatican, to Fr. Roy Bourgeois' courageous defense of women's ordination, to the Nuns on the Bus. "It's OUR Church!", Fresen thundered.

She also led participants through ways in which the Church has changed since Vatican II: 1) We have a broader understanding of the Church as the "People of God" and, as a result, we are claiming the end of a male patriarchal and hierarchical model of Church; 2) We are realizing that we are not the only people of God. We do not accept Pope Benedict XVI's notion that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true church; 3) We have a new understanding of priesthood and priestly ministry and are exploring different models, including the idea of ordaining a community's natural leaders who would keep their regular jobs after ordination and having a variety of priests  both full time and part time with different levels of theological formation; 4) Our understanding of women's place in the Church has changed. We want inclusivity in language and we see women ordained in other denominations and faiths and women in leadership positions in secular society; 5) Environmental and economic justice issues are much more prominent concerns of the Church today. In response to the question of whether we need a Vatican III, Fresen opined that the next Vatican Council would have to be a council of democratically chosen representatives from "all the baptized", not dominated by the ordained, much less by  the hierarchs. She also said that it should not be held at the Vatican but in another location, maybe even in Latin America or Africa.

Fresen also spoke about the Pact of the Catacombs, a little known agreement signed during Vatican II by 43 bishops, most of them from Latin America, who promised to shun the trappings of their positions and live simply, committing their funds to helping the poor. "I think Jesus would have signed the Catacomb Pact", she said.

Women religious were celebrated in various ways throughout the CTA conference, beginning with a candlelight procession and blessing of the sisters who were present. Sr. Pat Farrell, OSF, who was president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious at the time it received the visitation and subsequent criticism from the Vatican, was the recipient of this year's Call To Action Leadership Award, and Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS, the executive director of NETWORK and mastermind of the "Nuns on the Bus" campaign against failed Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan's budget proposal that would have made significant cuts to the safety net for the poor, was the homilist at the closing liturgy. Sr. Simone urged participants to fight for what her group is calling a Faithful Budget, one that truly reflects our values as Christians and Catholics.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Nuns with media pull

by María Paz López (English translation by Rebel Girl)
La Vanguardia

With or without habit, but full of arguments, in recent times women religious have made their way into the media, which solicits them for interviews and debates. They are also increasingly present at conferences and symposia, in the civil sphere too. They are nuns with names and with their own discourse, who project a new image of the Catholic Church that the media, which is ultimately a reflection of society, deems interesting to its audience.

Women religious like Teresa Forcades, the Benedictine nun from Montserrat, the Dominican Lucia Caram and the Teresian Viqui Molins have garnered notoriety for different reasons, as have the blogger Gemma Morató (Dominican of the Presentation) and Twitterer Xiskya Valladares (a Pureza de María sister), among others.

Several elements come together in the interest of the media about these women of the Church, according to the Claretian Màxim Muñoz, president of the Unió de Religiosos de Catalunya (Union of Religious of Catalonia - URC). "They are religious women who break the mold of women who are submissive and apart from the world," he argues. They appear as very free and committed women, especially to the most disadvantaged sectors of society, with a critical edge of both social and ecclesial denunciation." Another glaring example: the Carmelite missionary Brígida Moreta, who has promoted online the acclaimed initiative #apartheidsanitariono, against the People's Party government's plan to leave undocumented immigrants without health cards.

There are several women religious in the limelight in Spain, but the one who could be considered the initiator of the phenomenon, Teresa Forcades, has become -- perhaps reluctantly -- the mediagenic nun par excellence. "Forcades' value has been to break clichés," points out Eulàlia Tort, journalist and author of the book-interview Converses amb Teresa Forcades ("Conversations with Teresa Forcades" -- Dau, 2012). "For many people, the "little nuns" (monjitas), as they're often called, are people with a big heart but little formal education, set apart from the world and with no interest whatsoever in participating in the public debate. This concept of the monjita conceals a certain paternalism."

Forcades explodes that stereotype not only because of her academic credentials, but also because "her commitment to service leads her to actively participate in social debate," Tort states, "and her faith allows her to speak freely, since she has no servility, either to political parties or economic groups." Among other things, Forcades has attacked the avian flu vaccine, proclaimed her sympathy for Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez, and supported the independence movement in Catalonia.

Juan Jose Tamayo, director of the department of Theology and Religious Science at the University Carlos III of Madrid, attributes the interest aroused by these women religious to the fact that they "publicly express their views on issues that transcend the field of religion -- political, social, economic, medical ones -- knowledgeably because of their training and life experiences." Tamayo, who is also general secretary of the Asociación de Teólogos y Teólogas Juan XXIII, sees added value in the fact that "such public positions taken are not exactly accommodating to the authorities, but on the contrary, are characterized by a critical sense and tone of denunciation, and that is rare in the life of women religious." A common feature is that they all have the support of their superiors general and, naturally, of their congregations too.

The nuns who pass through the media show themselves to be good communicators, well versed in language and technology. "The religious figure in television and radio works, in information and in fiction," adds theologian and journalist Miriam Díez Bosch, director of the Observatorio Blanquerna de Comunicación, Religión y Cultura. They are figures who are warm and very distant at the same time; they live radically, dress differently, are in a predominantly male structure and are noted for their freshness and freedom of thought. They let us glimpse a different time, a rhythm that is very much their own." For Eulàlia Tort, they are "authentic women, since their lives and their work are driven by a radical fidelity to the Gospel, and that authenticity is baffling in a time of crisis." Hence perhaps their discreet charm.

Teresa Forcades: "They say you're not faithful to your vocation"

Benedictine nun Teresa Forcades i Vila (Barcelona, 1966), theologian and doctor of medicine, burst into the media universe three years ago when she criticized the pharmaceutical industry. Since then, her views are reflected by the media. Forcades believes that there, with respect to priests and men religious, "being a nun is an advantage. The current hierarchical Church doesn't feel represented by a nun as it does by a priest or a male religious." According to the Benedictine nun, that means that if there is controversy over the words of a nun, "it's not given as much importance in the governing bodies of the ecclesiastical institution and there is less censorship." Being in the media has its costs: "They might tell you you're not faithful to your vocation, as if your vocation couldn't include public demonstrations or participation in public debates. The private/public dividing line that traditional societies have considered parallel to the feminine/masculine dividing line still prevails in the Church."

About the public sphere, Forcades warns of exclusive secularism that denies public space to religion. "That's impossible for Christianity because according to Christianity, God identifies with those who suffer social injustice," she argues. "A Christian should always be engaged in social and public life, and that can lead to appearing in the media." And, according to her, inclusive secularism requires people of faith to participate in the debates, while respecting the beliefs of others and not seeking to impose themselves." Forcades recalls that "the ideal of monastic life is to perform all activities without breaking the rhythm of the liturgy of the hours, to keep the balance of ora et labora of Benedictine monasteries." In her case, and with her agenda, it's hard. As has been done throughout history, they use community discernment. "Whether I have to do them or not, according to whatever activities, we decide in community," she concludes.

Viqui Molins: "The society values social action"

A Teresian at heart, Viqui Molins Gomila (Barcelona, 1936) became famous when the movie director Javier Fesser, who was freely inspired by a book by Molins for his film Camino, mentioned her during the Goya Awards Gala in 2009. Her work in the prisons and with disadvantaged people in the Raval had made her known on television. She was recently a host on El convidat on TV3. Without wanting to generalize, she says that "secularized society values social action wherever it comes from, but if you give a compelling reason for the faith that moves you to do what you do, it not only respect it, but understands and even admires it, so long as there's no great animosity towards faith." When that happens, Molins attributes it to "people who have had a negative formative experience about God, that isn't the one Jesus showed us, full of understanding, love and mercy." For the Teresian nun, who studied philosophy at the University of Barcelona, "love is the most understandable language. No wonder we can say that God is love, and where there is love there is no God."

On the possibility that nuns at street level and in the media might give an idea of a parallel Catholic Church, she said she wouldn't want to encourage that. "I love the Church of Jesus a lot, and by that, I mean the community of believers in his Good News, that he sent us to preach throughout the world as disciples, from our poverty and weakness," she argues. If at times the Church is shown to be otherwise, regrettably, there will be many people who speak of two Churches, contrasting them. Let's hope that the Church is increasingly a community of believers rather than a dominating structure, if that is what it is or seems to be." Viqui's examples: "Cardinal Martini, Casaldàliga, and Monseñor Romero..."

Xiskya Valladares: "Twittering is a great opportunity"

Blogger, journalist, photographer and Twitterer Xiskya Valladares, a sister in the Pureza de María, believes that "the Catholic Church needs feminine sensibility, and for it to be seen in the media that women have a place in the Church, which they have always had but it was less public." She says that "we nuns ourselves haven't taken advantage of opportunities, out of fear, submission or lack of habit," and that is now changing. "Of course, there must be some who are the first to break out, like racing cyclists," she jokes. Born in Leon (Nicaragua) 43 years ago, Lucia Xiskya Paguaga Valladares has lived more than 20 years in Spain and now resides in Palma de Mallorca, where she teaches at the Centre d’Ensenyament Superior Alberta Giménez (Cesag), which bears the name of the Mallorcan founder of the Pureza de María order. Valladares, who has a degree in Spanish Philology and a masters in Management of Education Centers from the University of Barcelona, and an MA in Journalism from the San Pablo-CEU University in Madrid, with studies in theology in Rome and Granada, became known in the journalism world through her chronicles of the 2011 World Youth Day in Madrid.

Since then, she has been very present in the social networks. They call her the Twittering nun. Each night, she signs off with the hashtag #arezaryadormir and observes that "for some twitterers it's like a return; they tell me that seeing a face in a habit reminds them of something positive." The sisters of her congregation wear habits, but can take them off for pastoral or family reasons. "If I go to a press conference on a subject that's not Catholic, I take it off so I don't clash," she says. She has felt like leaving Twitter "because of the trolls who insult you, but all the others are very worth it." On the presence of women religious in the media, Valladares says that "priests are more singled out and marked by the pedophilia issue, and nuns now have more credibility." However, she also has been touched. "I've been called a robabebés ("cradle robber")," she says,"so current information has a lot of influence."

Lucia Caram: "It's essential to be in social networks"

Lucia Caram, an Argentinian contemplative Dominican and theologian, who has been based in Catalonia for 18 years, performs social work in Manresa through her convent and the Rosa Oriol Foundation. She has just published a book, Mi claustro es el mundo ("My cloister is the world" -- Plataforma, 2012), is present on radio and television, and is very active in social networks, especially Twitter. "I'm of the Order of Preachers -- the Dominicans; today, we would say 'the Communicators'," argues Sister Lucia. I have a life to share and communicate, and I like to be in tune with people, meet them where they are, so it's essential now to be in social networks and listening to the heartbeat of the people to share the exciting adventure of life." How is this activity viewed by secularized society? "I don't know if that's more appealing to society or not. I do know that it's a way to speak the language of the people and be closer to their hopes, their anxieties, to what's in their hearts ... I could not be here today otherwise."

Lucía Caram Padilla (Tucumán, 1966), who studied theology in her native Argentina and completed her training in Torrent (Valencia), supports the independence movement in Catalonia. Sister Lucia elaborates on how some men in the Church react to the new media visibility of the women religious. "There's a right wing and a den here that's a minority but it's very well organized, and because of their morbid radicalism, they're listened to less and less. They get very nervous and are intolerant," Caram says. "Among the more official ranks there are also those who are fighting to reach the spheres of power, and they are sexist and misogynistic, but the truth is that I care less and less about them. They will remain alone, because their discourse is so irrelevant and absurd that it falls on its own inconsistency."