Friday, June 27, 2014

Pope Francis sends proof of the denunciation that might have cost Bishop Angelelli's life

By Religión Digital (English translation by Rebel Girl)
June 27, 2014

Pope Francis handed over a letter and evidence that had been sent to the Vatican by Monseñor Enrique Angelelli that show the human rights violations committed by Argentina during the military dictatorship. On Friday, July 4th, the sentence against the soldiers accused of being the intellectual authors [of Angelelli's murder] will be pronounced.

The letter was submitted as evidence in the trial for the alleged murder of Angelelli in La Rioja. The written testimony of military persecution is a blow to members of the Vatican who for years denied that the letter and the evidence has come to the Holy See.

"We are constantly hampered in fulfilling the mission of the Church. We priests and religious have been personally humiliated, seized, and raided by the police on orders of the army," Angelelli wrote in his letter. Days later, he would be killed on Route 38 in the vicinity of Punta de los Llanos.

The letter and evidence were sent in July 1976 to the Vatican nuncio who in those days was Pio Laghi. That cardinal, who died in 2009 and was investigated for complicity with the Argentinian dictatorship, always denied having received them.

Francis, fulfilling his promise that he would open the Vatican archives, sent two documents to Monseñor Marcelo Colombo, Bishop of La Rioja: a letter from Angelelli and a report titled "A chronicle of the facts related to the assassination of Fathers Longueville Gabriel and Murias Carlos", the priests in the Riojan city of Chamical who were assassinated on July 18, 1976. The account of the assassinations had been presented the same month they were committed, and Angelelli took the trouble to send multiple copies to the Holy See as he didn't trust the nuncio.

The federal criminal court in La Rioja will resume hearings today on the pleadings of the parties in the trial for the murder of Monseñor Enrique Angelelli, perpetrated during the military dictatorship.

Today the tribunal, composed of Judges José Camilo Nicolás Quiroga Uriburu, Carlos Julio Lascano and Juan Carlos Reynaga, intends to hear the defense arguments of former general Luciano Benjamín Menéndez and former commodore Luis Fernando Estrella.

On June 13th, in their pleadings, the four complaints requested life imprisonment without parole for those accused as authors of Monseñor Angelelli's assassination. Meanwhile, it is expected that on July 4th, the sentence in Angelelli's murder, which was committed on August 4, 1976 in what the dictatorship wanted to pass off as a car accident, will be pronounced.

Only Jesus builds the Church

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
June 29, 2014

Matthew 16:13-19

The episode takes place in the pagan region of Caesarea Philippi. Jesus is interested in knowing what is being said among the people about him. After hearing the various opinions that exist among the people, he addresses his disciples directly: "But who do you say that I am?".

Jesus doesn't ask them what they think about the Sermon on the Mount or about his healing activities in the villages of Galilee. To follow Jesus, what's important is commitment to him. So he wants to know what they see in him.

Simon speaks up in the name of all and answers solemnly, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Jesus is not just another prophet. He is the last Messenger of God to His chosen people. Moreover, he is the Son of the living God. So Jesus, after congratulating him because that confession could only have come from the Father, says, "And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church."

The words are very precise. The Church is not Peter's but Jesus'. The one who builds the Church isn't Peter but Jesus. Peter is simply "the rock" on which "the house" that Jesus is building sits. The image suggests that Peter's job is to give stability and consistency to the Church -- to make sure that Jesus can build it without his followers introducing deviations and reductionism.

Pope Francis knows that his task is not to "take the place of Christ," but to make sure that today's Christians meet Christ. This is his biggest concern. Since the beginning of his service as successor of Peter, he has said, "The Church must lead to Jesus. He is the center of the Church. If the Church ever didn't lead to Jesus, it would be a dead Church."

So, in making public his program for a new evangelization phase, Francis proposes two major objectives. First, meeting Jesus, since "with his newness, he is always able to renew our lives and our communities... Jesus Christ can also break through the dull categories with which we would enclose him."

Second, he thinks it's critical to "go back to the source and recover the original freshness of the Gospel" since whenever we try to do this, "new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world." It would be unfortunate if the Pope's invitation to promote the renewal of the Church were not to reach Christians in our communities.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fr. Felipe Berríos: Back in Chile

Reflexión y Liberación (English translation by Rebel Girl)
June 25, 2014

The return to Chile of Fr. Felipe Berríos, who belongs to the Society of Jesus, didn't go unnoticed since last night in his participation in the TVN program "El Informante" ("The Informer"), he openly and freely addressed delicate issues  for the Catholic Church and the community such as the "option for the poor", educational reform, the marked "classism" that characterizes Chilean society, homosexual unions, the Mapuche conflict, and the possible legalization of abortion...

The well-known Jesuit priest Felipe Berríos, who returned a few days ago to the country after spending several years working with refugees in Burundi and the Congo (Africa), was interviewed by reporter Juan Manuel Astorga on the program "El Informante", unleashing a wave of comments because of his answers to possible issues that have been little addressed by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. The priest was open to discussing various subjects while "respecting others' opinions", as he explained in the interview. We will offer a selection of the most applauded and commented phrases after his appearance on the TVN program:

The Catholic Church:

"Most people say they believe in Jesus Christ but, deep down, they believe in the God of consumerism, but it creates a huge void."

"We have shown the young people a God who's so cold, so insipid, that it's made the kids dispense with God, that it's not an issue for them, but when a kid is seeking equality for all, that's seeking God."

"The Church has profited from believing itself the owner of salvation and profiting from that."

Marriage Equality:

"What's the problem with homosexual marriage? Homosexuals are children of God. He created them homosexuals and lesbians, and God is proud of what they are."

"Why can't they get married? Enough already. The problem is in us, that we don't understand. Not in them."

"I want to say it clearly: Homosexuals and lesbians are children of God and they are called to holiness as we all are. They aren't second class citizens, nor are they in sin. It's a different nature and they help us change our concept of sexuality."

Educational reform:

"What draws my attention about educational reform is that an issue that to me is central isn't addressed: classism. As long as there's classism in Chile, anything else that's done will come out badly."

"I'm asking the Catholic Church, which has 7% of the elite schools, to make an effort. To the teachers and students of those schools. Demand it. Let's make an effort. Because if this reform doesn't take off in these schools, it will fail. If these schools don't open their doors to mix with the rest of society, this is going to fail."

"What has to change is that these paid private schools stop discriminating against students. How is it possible that in this country there are some Catholic and private schools that charge the parents tuition? What for? To discriminate economically."

The "Cota mil":

"It's legal for the University of the Andes to build a hospital in the 'cota mil' [an exclusive area of Santiago]. It's legal for Catholic University to build a hospital in San Carlos de Apoquindo. But it's immoral. How can it be moral that two hospitals are being built while there are other clinics in the upper class area of the capital and fewer hospitals on the periphery?"

"Building a hospital where there are already first class clinics, as Catholic University and University of the Andes did, kills just like abortion, because there are people on the periphery of the city, not to speak of the outlying areas, who don't have access to hospitals."

Legalization of abortion:

"The bottom line is that we realize that what's at stake here is defining when a human being is considered a person. If the majority in Parliament debates and agrees on an abortion law in the future, I'm going to accept it, but for me it would be immoral, as I see it. But I can't impose that way of thinking."

"The President said something very interesting -- that Chilean society is sufficiently mature to talk about these issues and not have someone decide for it. That seems viable to me."

The Mapuche conflict:

"Thank God you have a mayor like Huenchumilla."

"Chile stole the land from the Mapuche people..."

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Fraternal and subversive Eucharist

At 86, Dom Pedro Casaldaliga goes on facing threats, the political system, agribusiness, and empires. In the name of hope, he is a soldier for an invincible cause.

By Sônia Oddi and Celso Maldos (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Revista do Brasil (em português; also available in Spanish on Adital)
No. 96, June 2014

São Félix do Araguaia, Northeast Mato Grosso, May 10, 2014. In a small chapel in the back yard, a prayer opens the day at the house of the bishop emeritus of San Félix, Pedro Casaldáliga. The simplicity of the architecture gains strength through the significance of objects arranged there.

On the altar, a towel with indigenous artwork. On the wall, a relief map of Crucified Africa, a rustic Christ on the crucifix, a ceramic of a mother protecting her son with one arm and carrying a pot in the other. On the cement floor, benches made of logs, which resemble the buriti ones used by the Xavante in a traditional competition where two teams face off in a relay race, carrying logs on their shoulders, a demonstration of endurance and strength, the qualities of a people known for their warrior skills. Surrounded by plants, light enters from all sides of the timid and incomplete walls. In this organic environment, as in Pedro's life, friends nestle to take part in prayer.

José Maria Concepción, a long-time companion of Pedro who has recently come from Spain, begins the reading:

"1795: José Leonardo Chirino, mestizo, led the insurrection in Coro, Venezuela, with native and black people fighting for the freedom of the slaves and the elimination of taxes. 1985: Irne García and Gustavo Chamorro, martyrs for justice. Guanabanal, Colombia.

1986: Josimo Morais Tavares, priest, killed by the latifundistas. Imperatriz, Maranhão, Brasil"

The martyrs being remembered are those of the day, May 10th. Countless others -- hundreds of them -- exist and will be remembered throughout the year, according to the Latin American Agenda. He continues: "2013: Ríos Montt, Guatemala's former dictator, sentenced to 80 years in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity. The Truth Commission estimates that he committed 800 murders a month in the 17 months he ruled, after a coup d'etat."

The young priest, Felipe Cruz, an Augustinian and native of Pernambuco, leads a song, the Lord's Prayer, and the reading of a passage from the pastoral edition of the Bible. They close with the Oração da Irmandade dos Mártires da Caminhada Latino-Americana ["Prayer of the Brotherhood of the Martyrs of the Latin American Journey"]  written by Pedro, whose last line reads "Amém, Axé, Awere, Aleluia!", out of respect for the diversity of beliefs of the Brazilian people.

Because of this respect, Dom Pedro has never celebrated Mass in Marãiwatsede, the indigenous land of the Xavante, a community that has always counted on his support in their fight to take back the land from which they had been deported in 1968 and to which they began to return in 2004. "If the bishop is here celebrating Mass, it means that we have full rights here. And, under the guidance of CIMI (the Indigenous Missionary Council) and the church of the Prelature, he has personally never celebrated on the reservation," Jose Maria testified.

For supporting the almost fifty year struggle of indigenous peoples of that region of Mato Grosso, Pedro has been threatened with death sometimes. Most recently in late 2012, when the invasion process (a legal measure to achieve possession) by the ranchers and squatters of the Marãiwatsede native lands progressed and went into effect, a result of the ruling of the courts and the federal government, he had to absent himself from São Félix.

Persecution, death threats and deportation procedures have marked the career of Pedro, who came to the distant region of Araguaia as a Claretian missionary in 1968 at age 40. Of Catalonian origin, he was born in 1928 -- and at 8, he had his first experience with martyrdom when his mother's brother, a priest, was killed when Spain was plunged in a bloody civil war.

The São Félix Prelature, a geographical division of the Catholic Church, was created in 1969 and includes 15 municipalities: Santa Cruz do Xingu, São José do Xingu, Vila Rica, Santa Terezinha, Luciara, Novo Santo Antônio, Bom Jesus do Araguaia, Confresa, Porto Alegre do Norte, Canabrava do Norte, Serra Nova Dourada, Alto Boa Vista, Ribeirão Cascalheira, Querência and São Félix do Araguaia. It currently has an estimated population of 135,000 inhabitants, an area of approximately 102,000 square kilometers, and 22 parishes.

Pedro, in that distant area, found a needy people who were suffering and neglected, at the mercy of the threats of the large landowners and cattlemen. The poor of the Gospel, to whom he had chosen to devote his life, were there.

In 1971, at the hands of Dom Tomás Balduíno (who died in May at 91) he was consecrated bishop of the prelature. After 2005, when he resigned, he received the title Bishop Emeritus.

A founder of liberation theology, his involvement in the struggles of the river dwellers, the indigenous and the peasants bothered the latifundistas and the dictatorship. Even today, he bothers the rich and powerful men of Central-Western Brazil.

The policy of tax incentives, carried out by the military, through the Superintendency for Development of Amazonia (Sudam), was the birthplace of agribusiness. And the conflicts arising from the expropriation of land from native populations, from the exploitation of labor, from slave labor and all sorts of violence also made the missionary Pedro angry and made him choose whose side he would be on.

"The rights of indigenous peoples are interests that challenge official policy," says Pedro. "They are cultures contrary to neoliberal capitalism and the requirements of the mining companies, the loggers. The indigenous peoples are demanding respectful ecological activity."

During the dictatorship in the 1970s, he founded, along with Dom Tomás Balduíno, CIMI and the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), in response to the plight of rural workers, indigenous peoples, settlers and peons, especially in the Amazon. Also during this period, in 1976, he witnessed the murder of Father João Bosco Burnier, shot in the neck when both were defending two women who were tortured in a police station in Ribeirão Cascalheira (MT).

Pedro does physical therapy sessions several times a week. At 86, and diagnosed with Parkinson's about 30 years ago, this care is needed to minimize the progression of the illness that causes tremors and muscle atrophy. He follows a disciplined diet that has somewhat slowed but not stopped the disease's progression, according to his doctor.

The discipline is repeated in his daily reading of e-mails, news, articles, accompanied most often by Frei Paulo, an Augustinian, who like Dom Pedro always keeps the door open for inhabitants of the community and travelers. During the visit of Revista do Brasil, for example, there's a pause to welcome Raimundo, a tall, brown, thin man who, afflicted and overwhelmed, knelt and asked for his blessing.

The house is simple, exposed brick, unfinished walls. However, like the chapel in the back yard, it is full of signs and icons that show the commitment to humanitarian causes of those who live under that roof.

Che, Jesus, Milton

In the bedroom, in the lounge, the kitchen, on the back porch, in the office, a daydream for eyes and heart. Images of varied significance: Che Guevara, Jesus Christ, Milton Nascimento, Father João Bosco Burnier, Dom Helder Camara, Archbishop Romero, Pablo Neruda. Texts from Martín Fierro, St. Francis of Assisi, Joan Maragall, Exodus. Posters of the Missa dos Quilombos, the Romaria dos Mártires da Caminhada, the Semana da Terra Padre Josimo. Calendars of the War of Canudos, of workers on May Day. And also photos, small souvenirs and folk art, amid figurines of awards received.

His commitment to populist causes goes beyond the country's borders. In 1994, Dom Pedro supported the revolt in Chiapas, Mexico, stating that when the people take up arms, it must be respected and understood. In 1999, he published the Declaração de Amor à Revolução Total de Cuba ["Declaration of Love for Total Revolution in Cuba"]. He speaks with conviction of the importance of Latin American unity, conceived by Simon Bolivar (1783-1830) and advocated by former President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez (1954-2013).

"I used to say that Brazil wasn't very Latin American. The common language of the Spanish-speaking people makes Brazil feel like a bit separate," says Dom Pedro. "On the other hand, Brazil has had some hegemony conditions which have caused mistrust among other peoples. Hugo Chavez made an optimistic and militant proposition, appealing to the spirit of Bolivar. With that, interesting victories were achieved such as blocking the success of FTAA."

He recalls a meeting with the former Brazilian president. "When Lula was at the CNBB [Brazilian Bishops' Conference] meeting, we were saying goodbye and he approached me and gave me a hug. And I said to him, I want to ask three things of you. First, that you don't let us fall into the FTAA, second, that you don't let us fall into the FTAA, third, that you don't let us fall into the FTAA. That's all I'm asking of you," he said, referring to the Free Trade Area of the Americas, an icon of neoliberalism.

"And we really didn't get into the FTAA. Because Latin America has to save itself as a continent. We have common histories, the same people, the same struggles, the same tormenters. The same empires dominating us, a tradition of oligarchies that have sold out. That's how it's always been. They began with the empire, which submitted to the local oligarchies. Armies and security forces guaranteed a mercenary security. It has improved. Even the United States doesn't have the power today that it had with respect to the control of Latin America. We are less American, becoming more Americans."

Hope and Dialogue

It's necessary to save hope by any means, Dom Pedro argues. "Emphasize the local struggles against globalization. Join in the demands, see them as your own, like the struggles that are happening in various countries in Latin America. El Salvador, Uruguay, Bolivia, Ecuador...Clearly, they are countries that are very close in the social struggles."

There are times Pedro Casaldáliga doesn't grant interviews because he has found it difficult to reconcile the agility of his mind with the time it takes to express words. The help of José Maria, his friend and countryman, was essential to understanding his halting and forced speech, as he conversed on subjects chosen by him.

Optimistic about Pope Francis' performance, he points out that "he has made very significant symbolic gestures." "Liberation theology has felt supported by him. He values the basic ecclesial communities, as well as the goal of a poor Church for the poor. He has encouraged dialogue with other faiths ... His dialogue with the Muslim world and the Jewish world, and now this visit to Israel draw attention... Very significant. He dismantled the whole ecclesiastical bureaucracy; its employees had to adapt."

He recognizes the limitations the political system imposes on the government's activities which, according to Dom Pedro, have "an original sin": alliances. "When there are alliances, there are concessions and failings. To the extent that these governments all submit to neoliberal capitalism, we will have these serious flaws. The policy will always be a conditional policy. Both Lula and Dilma would like to govern at the service of the people, but the alliances made those populist governments always constrained." For him, there should be a "firm, almost revolutionary stance" in regard to issues such as health, education and communications.

Deceased in March last year, the former president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez is remembered resolutely by the priest. "He tried to break, he broke the scheme. So the Right wishes to scorch, even burn, Venezuela. In the newspapers and on the news programs, every day something negative about Venezuela has to appear."

Indigenous vs. ruralists' rights

He points out that the indigenous cause is a current issue, and that the threats haven't stopped. "Never before have they been attacked so much. There have been several proposals to change the policy that's official through the 1988 Constitution, which recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples very explicitly. Proposals are beginning to emerge that it be Congress that sets the demarcation of indigenous lands, so we already know how it will be defined. The ruralist caucus is very big...," Pedro observes.

On the other hand, he continues, the indigenous people have never been as organized as now. And the country has created a "kind of consciousness" in regard to this cause. "If they want to prevent the existence of an official structure with respect to indigenous policies, they try to suppress bodies that are at the service of those causes. This affects indigenous peoples and the rural world. All of this is affected by agribusiness. Agribusiness is king. And it rules globally. It's not only a problem in Mato Grosso, it's a problem of the country and around the world. Multinationals place constraints and impose themselves.

"The retaking of the Marãiwatsédé indigenous land is pretty emblematic. The Xavante constantly defended their rights. When they were driven out, deported -- that's the word, they were deported -- they were still tied to this land. They came every year to gather pati, a palm tree to make ornaments. And they always claimed the land where our elders are buried. And they were always present," he says. "Here, we always remember that this land belongs to the Xavante, that this is the Xavante's land. The young residents, the children were saying the other day, 'our grandparents say this land belongs to the native people; our parents say this is the indigenous people's land.'"

At this point, Don Pedro remembers "tough times" when CIMI was forced to challenge certain government actions. "When they say there's no political will for indigenous causes, I say that there is will against the rights of the indigenous people -- it's systemic. Dilma, I don't know if she felt a little freer, if she would back indigenous causes. Some think that she doesn't personally agree with the indigenous cause. She has been criticized because she has never received indigenous people. The first meeting with a group was a little while ago. All these Belo Monte projects, the hydroelectric dams. If she has a developmentalist policy, it must disregard what the indigenous cause requires -- first would be land, territory, demarcation, removing the invaders. It would also be encouraging indigenous and quilombola culture," he says uncompromisingly. "If you're in favor of the indigenous, you're against the system. No use playing it down there."

Dom Pedro supports the presence of labor unions but criticizes the movement. "They're the voice of all the demands of the indigenous peoples, of the working world. In Latin America, labor unions have been very good, but they've been failing quite a lot lately. They've been coopted. When you see a labor leader become a deputy, a senator, he's gone," he says, seeing Via Campesina as an alternative amid the coalitions of populist groups in various countries.

"Then we go back to the memory of Hugo Chavez, who encouraged such participation," he notes. "Ordinarily, it used to happen that the only voices workers had were the union and the party. In recent years, both the party and the union have lost representation. They've been partially replaced by associations, some movements. But they're still valid. Labor unions and parties are natural instruments for the causes of working people and peasants."

To campaign electorally, all labor candidates for deputy or senator must be somewhat "constrained", Dom Pedro believes. "So it is best that they not run. On the other hand, one can't completely deny the role of parties and unions. It's not realistic. There are still spaces that have to be filled."

Lucidly, Pedro ends the conversation recalling the phrase of a soldier who fought against the Franco dictatorship in the Spanish Civil War: "We are defeated soldiers for an invincible cause."

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Rose Marie Muraro: The Saga of an Impossible Woman

Leonardo Boff pays tribute here to Rose Marie Muraro, his late long-time colleague at the Brazilian Catholic publishing house Editora Vozes before both were fired in 1986 -- Boff for his embrace of liberation theology, and Muraro allegedly for publishing Sexualidade, libertação e fé: por uma erótica cristã. Muraro went on thinking and writing about gender issues (among other things), becoming one of Brazil's foremost feminist intellectuals. Her intellectual partnership with Boff continued, their last book together being Feminino & Masculino: uma nova consciência para o encontro das diferenças which was published in 2010.

By Leonardo Boff (English translation by Rebel Girl) (em português)
June 22, 2014

On June 21st in Rio de Janeiro, one of the most significant Brazilian women in the 20th century, Rose Marie Muraro (1930-2014) ended her earthly pilgrimage. She had the sense early on that only the impossible makes way for the new, so she did the impossible. That's what she says in her book Memórias de uma mulher impossível ("Memoirs of an impossible woman" -- 1999, 35). With a very frugal vision, she trained in physics and economics. But then she discovered her intellectual vocation -- to be a thinker about the human condition, particularly the condition of women. She was the one who in the late '60s raised the controversial issue of gender. She didn't limit herself to the issue of unequal power relationships between men and women, but denounced oppressive relationships in culture, science, philosophical movements, institutions, government and the economic system. She finally realized that the main root of this system that dehumanizes both women and men dwells in centuries-old patriarchy.

She went through an impressive process of liberation within herself, narrated in the book Os seis meses em que fui homem ("The six months I was a man" -- 1990, 6th edition). But perhaps the most important work by Rose Marie Muraro is Sexualidade da Mulher Brasileira: corpo e classe social no Brasil ("Sexuality of Brazilian Women: Body and Social Class in Brazil" -- 1996). It's a field study in various states in the country analyzing how sexuality is experienced, taking into account the class situation of the women, something that had been neglected by the fathers of psychoanalysis. In this field, Rose was an innovator, creating a theoretical framework that makes us understand the experience of sexuality and the body according to social class. What kind of individualization process can a famished woman achieve who, so as not to let her little son die, gives blood from her own bosom?

Rose and I worked together for 17 years as editors at Editora Vozes. She was responsible for the scientific part and I for the religious part. Even under strict control of the organs of military repression, Rose had the courage to publish then condemned authors like Darcy Ribeiro, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Paulo Freire, the CEBRAP books, and others. After long years of discussion and study, we gathered together our points of convergence in a book I consider seminal, Feminino & Masculino: uma nova consciência para o encontro das diferenças ("Female & Male: a new awareness for finding the differences" -- Record, 2010). I just want to highlight one phrase from it: "Educating a man is educating one individual, but educating a woman is educating a society."

Never leaving aside the question of the feminine (in men and in women), she soon turned to the challenges of modern science and technology. In 1969, she published Autonomação e o futuro do homem ("Automation and the future of man") and predicted the precariousness of the world of work.

The economic and financial crisis of 2008 led her to question capital/money with the book Reinventando o capital/dinheiro ("Reinventing capital/money" -- Idéias e Letras, 2012), where she emphasizes the relevance of complementary social currencies and solidarity exchange networks that allow the poorest to ensure their livelihood in absence of the dominant capitalist economy.

Another important work, really rich in cultural knowledge, facts and reflections is titled Os avanços tecnológicos e o futuro da humanidade: querendo ser Deus? ("Technological advances and the future of humanity: wanting to be God?" -- Vozes, 2009). In this text she addresses cutting-edge science such as nanotechnology, robotics, genetic engineering, and synthetic biology. She saw advantages on these fronts since she wasn't an obscurantist. But because we live in a society that makes everything into a commodity, even life, she perceived the serious risk of scientists assuming divine powers and using knowledge to redesign the human species. Hence the subtitle: "Wanting to be God?" This is a naive illusion of scientists. What will save us is not that new technological revolution but, as Rose says, the "Sustainability Revolution, the only thing that can save humankind from destruction ... because if we continue as is, we will not be in a win-lose game but in a terrible lose-lose game that will mean the destruction of our species, in which we will all lose." (Reinventando o Capital/dinheiro, 238)

Rose had very strong feelings for the world -- she suffered from global tragedies and celebrated the few advances. Recently, Rose had seen dark clouds over the planet, endangering our future. She died concerned with the search for life-saving alternatives. A woman of deep faith and spirituality, she dreamed of the human capacity to transform the predicted tragedy into a cleansing crisis towards a society that is reconciled with nature and Mother Earth. She concludes her book Os avanços tecnológicos with this wise saying: "When we give up being gods, we can be fully human. We still don't know what that is but we have sensed it forever." (p. 354).

Officially proclaimed Patron of Brazilian Feminism by the president on December 30, 2005, and with the creation of the Fundação Cultural Rose Marie Muraro ("Rose Marie Muraro Cultural Foundation") in 2009, she will leave a legacy of fruitful humanism for future generations. Rose Marie Muraro showed in her personal saga that the impossible is not a limit but a challenge. She is inscribed in the lineage of great archetypal women who have helped humanity keep alive the sacred lamp of caring for all that lives and breathes. Through this effort, she has become immortal.

SAVE THE DATE: Women's Ordination Worldwide Third International Conference

Women's Ordination Worldwide will be holding its Third International Conference September 18-20, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The theme will be "Gender, Gospel, and Global Justice." You can sign up on the website for e-mail updates as conference details become available.

WOW held its first conference in Dublin, Ireland in 2001 and its second in Ottawa, Canada in 2005.

Some of you might remember what happened around the Dublin conference but -- because some who are now in power in the Vatican (Pope Francis and Cardinal Gerhard Müller) seem to have forgotten the lesson in their dealings with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious -- let me also use this opportunity to refresh memories.

Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB, was invited to give an address at the Dublin conference. However, the Vatican objected and put pressure on her religious superior to prevent Sr. Joan from attending the conference. Sr. Joan herself was admonished not to participate. Her sisters rallied around her and 135 of them signed letters of support for the monastic practice of personal responsibility and Sr. Joan's decision to attend.

Sr. Christine Vladimiroff, OSB, then Prioress of the Erie Benedictines, issued a courageous statement in which she affirmed a fundamental principle of religious communities:

...I spent many hours discussing the issue with Sister Joan and traveled to Rome to dialogue about it with Vatican officials . I sought the advice of bishops, religious leaders, canonists, other prioresses, and most importantly with my religious community, the Benedictine Sisters of Erie. I spent many hours in communal and personal prayer on this matter.

After much deliberation and prayer, I concluded that I would decline the request of the Vatican. It is out of the Benedictine , or monastic, tradition of obedience that I formed my decision. There is a fundamental difference in the understanding of obedience in the monastic tradition and that which is being used by the Vatican to exert power and control and prompt a false sense of unity inspired by fear. Benedictine authority and obedience are achieved through dialogue between a community member and her prioress in a spirit of co-responsibility. The role of the prioress in a Benedictine community is to be a guide in the seeking of God. While lived in community, it is the individual member who does the seeking.

Sister Joan Chittister, who has lived the monastic life with faith and fidelity for fifty years, must make her own decision based on her sense of Church, her monastic profession and her own personal integrity. I cannot be used by the Vatican to deliver an order of silencing...

Sr. Christine went on to say that, contrary to the Vatican, she did not view Sr. Joan's participation in the Dublin conference as a "source of scandal to the faithful." In the end, Sr. Joan went to Dublin and gave her talk, "Discipleship for a Priestly People in a Priestless Period." While Sr. Joan avoided issuing an outright call for women's ordination in her keynote speech, she did raise some critical questions for the Church -- questions that continue not to be answered satisfactorily to this day:

...The major question facing Christians today, perhaps, is what does discipleship mean in a church that doesn't want women anywhere except in the pews. If discipleship is reduced to maleness, what does that do to the rest of the Christian dispensation? If only men can really live discipleship to the fullest, what is the use of a woman aspiring to the discipleship baptism implies, demands, demonstrates in the life of Jesus at all? What does it mean for the women themselves who are faced with rejection, devaluation, and a debatable theology based on the remnants of a bad biology theologized? What do we do when a church proclaims the equality of women but builds itself on structures that assure their inequality? What as well does the rejection of women at the highest levels of the church mean for men who claim to be enlightened but continue to support the very system that mocks half the human race?...

Perhaps in revisiting and meditating on this incident, those in power in Rome will understand why the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and its many supporters are so strenuously objecting to the doctrinal assessment and attempts of the male hierarchy to regulate nuns' speech and activities.

SAVE THE DATE: Call To Action 2014 National Conference

This year's Call To Action Conference will take place November 7-9, 2014 at the Cook Convention Center and Sheraton Downtown Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. The theme is "The Well of Many Rivers: Creating Currents of Change." Basic conference registration, excluding pre-conference workshops and dinners, ranges from $65 (students) to $259 (non-members registering after October 15).

The keynote speakers this year will be Kerry Kennedy, Rev. James Lawson, and Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ. There will be workshops on a variety of topics, including one by Fr. Tony Flannery who is making CTA one of the stops on his Fall speaking tour.

For more details:

Monday, June 23, 2014

Arturo Lona Reyes, Bishop of the Poor

By Roberto López Rosado (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Diario Oaxaca
June 23, 2014

A few weeks ago during the tours I commonly make particularly on weekends, especially in the Oaxacan Isthmus, I had the pleasure and especially the honor to interview the Bishop Emeritus of Tehuantepec, Arturo Lona Reyes.

In 1952, at 27, he was ordained a priest and in August 1971 he was consecrated Bishop of Tehuantepec by Paul VI. He resigned from that position in 2001. He has devoted his life to the disadvantaged, which earned him the "Don Sergio Méndez Arceo" National Human Rights Award in recognition of a whole life committed to the defense and promotion of human rights of the poor and the indigenous.

Bishop Lona and other later prelates -- Don Sergio Méndez Arceo, Samuel Ruiz and Raúl Vera -- are, as any Mexican would say, "a blessing from God" because all of them raised, as did Hidalgo with the banner of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the banner of liberation theology, a movement born of the reform that Vatican II represented. That theology presumed a significant change in how priests in Latin America saw their pastoral work.

For championing this school of thought within the Mexican Catholic Church, as well as the proposals that emerged from the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM) first in Medellin, Colombia and then Puebla, Mexico, Arturo Lona has been the victim of several attacks against him and defamation for making the powers-that-be uncomfortable. There were pressures of various kinds for him to sign his resignation from the leadership of the Diocese of Tehuantepec. Fortunately however, he didn't allow himself to be beaten, even by powerful groups within the church in Mexico itself.

There are those who say he is "to the left of the Father" as if he were responding to the commands of a political party. No, they are wrong. Bishop Lona is not a militant in any party. Yes, he is a distinguished activist of that movement that was called the "Church of the Poor". He is answerable to the poor, he works with them, is on the lookout for them, for the indigenous whom a political system here in Oaxaca has kept living in eternal poverty. And indeed he has been a serious critic of that political system because he has not only been a censor of PRI governments, but of others when he has noticed that they are acting the same way against the poor, when they are acting unjustly.

In 2006, he strongly criticized the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) for the way it addressed a conflict then. He criticized burning buses, blocking streets and roads. In 2006, he participated in a mediation table for teachers with whom he was not allied. He called on them to work with a sense of vocation and "not for a paycheck every fifteen days."

As well as being a spiritual guide in the faith, Arturo Lona Reyes has been a guiding light for the people who have been manipulated and lied to by those in power. Exactly three years ago, he warned the Oaxacan people, stating that "the defeated party isn't just sitting around; it's under the surface. The sea is seemingly peaceful, with small waves, but the surf, the internal waves are those that cause disasters. There is surf in politics."

Still, he managed to summon Governor Gabino Cuéa who he asked to pay special attention to the state's economy and "not to neglect real education" and to really look out for the poorest to lift them from the ancestral backwardness at the same time -- a smart observer of national and local politics. When the coalition government had barely taken off, he noted that the losing politicians were jumping on Cuéa, and properly stated that "sometimes the criticism of this governor who has only been in six months and is already producing results, is unfair. He and his colleagues are lifting a backlog of more than 70 years." "Let's have patience," he begged.

This man who has walked our lands is still a humble man who continues to celebrate Mass for the poor, as when I saw him in Jaltepec de Candayoc, in the Mixe area. He goes on offering comfort and caring to the poor, to the indigenous, he goes on working because of them and for them, but at the same time in his homily, he asks his flock to reject lies and pretense. At that open air Mass, in which I was able to participate, I also saw the affection and love that the people of the isthmus have for their bishop, for their tata.

Arturo Lona Reyes is a native of Aguascalientes but we could say he was born here among the poor because he has always been here in Oaxaca, in the neighboring communities of Chiapas, where there is also poverty, hunger, and disease.

The bishop, who was president of the Comisión Episcopal de Indígenas ["Bishops' Commission on the Indigenous"] in 1972 and founder of the Centro de Derechos Humanos Tepeyac de Tehuantepec, is and has been a "blessing" because as Agustín Basave wrote in an article titled “Sicilia y los católicos de izquierda”, "there is courage, never capitulation, but the guiding principle is not hate but generosity. The best representatives of this school are sorts of missionaries of hope. They have the spiritual strength that allows them to resist all temptations, as well as those of surrender and revenge. So they are not co-opted by power or anger." Henceforth that includes Lona, this father, this priest to whom I heard an istmeña plead to Heaven at the end of that Mass, "May the Lord in His majesty bless, keep, and protect you."

SAVE THE DATE: Catholic Tipping Point Tour with Fr. Tony Flannery

A coalition of many of the same groups that sponsored Austrian priest-reformer Fr. Helmut Schuller's successful speaking tour of the United States last year are coming together to bring one of the founders of Ireland's Association of Catholic Priests, Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery here for a series of engagements this fall. The tour will occur from October 22nd to November 18th and is projected to include Washington, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, Providence, Syracuse, Cleveland, Detroit, Minneapolis, Memphis, Sarasota, San Antonio, St. Louis, Phoenix, Sacramento, Portland, OR and Seattle. Specific dates and venues are not yet available but once they are, they will be published on the Catholic Tipping Point website.

Fr. Flannery is the author of numerous books including A Question of Conscience, a detailed account of his dealings with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which tried to silence the priest after they found his views on such matters as women's ordination and contraception unacceptable.

Sponsors of Fr. Flannery's 2014 speaking tour include Call To Action, Catholics For Choice, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, CORPUS, DignityUSA, FutureChurch, National Coalition of American Nuns, New Ways Ministry, Quixote Center, and Women’s Ordination Conference.