Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Liberation theologian Ivone Gebara to receive honorary doctorate

Adital (English translation by Rebel Girl)

Because of her work and contribution for over 30 years to the Brazilian and Latin American theological scene, theologian and philosopher Ivone Gebara will be honored with the title of Doctor Honoris Causa. The initiative comes from the Núcleo de Pesquisa de Gênero das Faculdades EST – Escola Superior de Teologia de São Leopoldo (NPG-EST). The award will be given during the 2nd International Congress on Religion, Media and Culture, to be held September 8-12 in São Leopoldo, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Besides reaffirming the commitment of Faculdades EST to feminist and gender theological work, the bestowal of the title is, above all, a recognition of the personal and intellectual trajectory of the theologian, who, about to turn 70, still devotes her time and effort to liberation theology and feminist theology.

Ivone Gebara is Brazilian, born in São Paulo but of Syrian-Lebanese descent. She is a nun, a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady  (Canoneses of St. Augustine), and has been dedicated to feminist theology for many years. She has a PhD in philosophy from the Catholic University of São Paulo and in religious studies from the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium).

At Dom Helder Camara's side, she taught at the Theological Institute of Recife (ITER) in Pernambuco for 17 years until its closure in 1989 by order of the Vatican, then under the command of John Paul II, considered a critic of liberation theology.

A few months after the compulsory closing of ITER in 1990, Gebara was tried and condemned by the Vatican for expressing criticism of Catholic Church doctrine. Her ecclesiastical penalty was "obsequious silence" for two years. During this period, she remained outside of Brazil and produced a book that addresses the question of evil, Rompendo o silêncio: uma fenomenologia feminista do mal ["Breaking the silence: a feminist phenomenology of evil"].

Her troubles with the Vatican were accentuated when, in October 1993, during an interview with a widely circulated magazine in Brazil [Veja, October 6, 1993], she gave statements on abortion, saying that, for poor women, the practice was not necessarily a sin since more births meant many difficulties for the mothers and children. The theologian was speaking from her experiences with women from poor communities in Recife.

Teologia Ecofeminista ["Ecofeminist Theology"], Rompendo o silêncio: uma fenomenologia feminista do mal ["Breaking the silence: a feminist phenomenology of evil"], Teologia Ecofeminista: ensaio para repensar o conhecimento e a religião ["Ecofeminist Theology: An essay for rethinking knowledge and religion"], As águas do meu poço ["The waters of my well"], O que é Teologia Feminista ["What feminist theology is"], O que é Teologia ["What theology is"], O que é cristianismo [What Christianity is], and A Mobilidade da senzala feminina. Mulheres Nordestinas, Vida Melhor e Feminismo ["The mobility of female slaves: Northeastern women, a better life, and feminism"] are a few of her more than 30 published titles.

Today, Ivone Gebara devotes her time to pastoral work, gives lectures, participates in events in various countries and offers courses, helping to form new activists, theologians, philosophers, and thinkers.

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