Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Message of the 33rd Congreso de Teologia

Below is an English translation of the final message of the 33rd Theology Congress of the Asociación de Teólogos y Teólogas Juan XXIII.

From September 5 to 8, we celebrated in Madrid the 33rd Theology Congress on "Liberation Theology, TODAY", which brought together a thousand people coming from different countries and continents in a climate of reflection, brotherly and sisterly co-existence, and interfaith, intercultural, and inter-ethnic dialogue.

We live in a gravely ill, unjust and cruel world, in which wealth is more and more concentrated in fewer hands and inequality and poverty are growing. Forty to fifty thousand people die each day from hunger and wars, when enough resources exist to feed twice the world's population.The problem is not, therefore, scarcity, but the competitiveness, excessive accumulation, and unjust distribution generated by the neoliberal model. The rulers allow the financial powers to rule and democracy hasn't reached the economy. The current European crisis has the effect of dismantling democracy.

The economic crisis has become a human rights crisis. The euphemistically named "cutbacks" in education and health care are, in fact, systematic violations of the individual, social and political rights for which we had worked so hard over the preceding centuries.

But this situation is not fatal or natural, nor does it respond to divine will. The inertia can be broken by changing our way of living, producing, consuming, governing, legislating and doing justice, seeking alternative models of development along the lines proposed and practiced by quite a few organizations in the world today.

Over these days, we have heard the diverse testimonies and voices of the various theologies of liberation that are being cultivated on every continent and trying to work together in responding to the most serious problems of humanity described above: in Latin America, in tune with the new political and religious scene, and with the experiences of 21st century socialism; in Asia, in dialogue with eastern worldviews, finding the liberating dimension in them; in Africa, in communication with the native religions and cultures, in search of sources of life in nature; in Europe, in dialogue and collaboration with the social movements.

We have found that liberation theology is alive and active in the face of attempts by conservative thought and traditional theology to condemn it and give it up for dead. LT [Liberation theology] is historical, contextual and reformulated in the new liberation processes through emerging subjects of transformation: women who have been discriminated against who are becoming aware of their revolutionary potential, once destroyed cultures that are reclaiming their identities, peasant communities that are mobilizing against Free Trade Agreements, angry young men who have been denied the present and to whom the doors of the future have been closed, ravaged nature which is crying out, suffering, rebelling and demanding respect, abused migrants fighting for better living conditions, indigenous religions and those of African descent which are being reborn after centuries of silencing.

LT is a theology of life, which particularly intensely defends the most threatened life -- that of the poor, who die prematurely. It makes the words of Jesus of Nazareth a reality: "I came that you might have life and have it abundantly." It calls us to discover God in the excluded and crucified of the earth: that is the fundamental mission of the Christian churches, from which they have been very distant.

Religious reformers have opened and continue to open paths of compassion and integral liberation, that should be translated politically, socially and economically in each historical period, in particular Siddhartha Gautama the Buddha and Jesus of Nazareth the Christ (theme of the last address of the congress).

We denounce the lack of ethics in government policies that present cutbacks as reforms necessary for economic recovery. Our denunciation is extended to banks, multinationals and financial powers as the ones truly responsible for the current crisis in collusion with governments that allow it.

We opt for another economic model whose criteria are the principle of the common good, the defense of the land, social justice and community sharing.

We denounce the use of violence, militarism, the arms race and war as irrational and destructive forms of resolution for local and international conflicts that are sometimes justified religiously. We opt for a world in peace, without arms, where conflicts are resolved by means of dialogue and political negotiation. We support all peaceful initiatives that go in that direction, such as the day of fasting and prayer proposed by Pope Francis. We reject the just war theology and pledge to develop a theology of peace.

We denounce racism and xenophobia, which manifests itself especially in discriminatory laws, in the denial of the rights of immigrants, in the humiliating treatment to which they are subjected by the authorities and lack of respect for their lifestyle , culture, language and customs. We opt for a borderless world guided by solidarity, hospitality, recognition of human rights without discrimination, and world citizenship as opposed to restrictive citizenship linked to membership of a nation.

We denounce the denial of sexual and reproductive rights and the systematic violence against women -- physical, symbolic, religious, workforce -- exerted by the alliance of the various powers -- labor laws, advertising, media, governments, businesses, etc.. The alliance promotes and reinforces patriarchy as a system of gender oppression. Religious institutions have quite a lot of responsibility for the discrimination and mistreatment of women. Feminist liberation theology seeks to respond to this situation by recognizing women as political, moral, religious and theological actors.

We ask for the immediate suspension of sanctions and rehabilitation of all theologians who have been victims of reprisals (of those who have seen their works prohibited, condemned or subjected to censorship, of those who have been expelled from their professorships, of those from whom recognition as "Catholic theologians" has been withdrawn, those who have been suspended a divinis, etc..), especially during the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who were especially repressive on issues of dogmatic and moral theology, in most cases because of their links with liberation theology and even for following the guidelines of Vatican II. Such rehabilitation is a requirement of justice, a necessary condition of the much hoped for reform of the Church and proof of the authenticity of the same.

We demand, in turn, within the churches, the exercise of the right and freedom of thought, assembly, expression, professorship and publication, frequently not respected, and the recognition of the option for the poor as a fundamental theological criterion.

With Pedro Casaldáliga we affirm that everything is relative, including theology, and that only God, hunger, and liberation are absolute.

Madrid, September 8, 2013

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