Saturday, April 11, 2015

Pontius Pilate in the Creed

by Victor Codina, SJ (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Cristianisme i Justícia Blog
April 3, 2015

It is somewhat surprising that both in the short creed (the so-called Apostles' Creed) and the long creed (the Nicene-Constantinopolitan one) that we profess in the Sunday Eucharist, refderence is made to Pontius Pilate, under whose power Jesus suffered, was crucified, died and was buried. It is strange and even shocking that along with the Father, His Son Jesus Christ incarnate of the Virgin Mary and with the Holy Spirit, Pontius Pilate is mentioned.

Pilate, governor of Judea (26-36) was a man both weak in the face of popular pressure and arrogant, cruel, arbitrary and ruthless, "the imperial, bloody and ruthless Roman" [“el romano imperialista, puñetero y desalmado”] as is sung in the Nicaraguan Mass ... While recognizing the innocence of Jesus, accused because of the envy of the priests, he did not free him so as not to fall into disfavor of Tiberius Caesar -- "if you release him, you are not a friend of Caesar" (Jn 19,12). He wanted to act speedily in the face of Rome, so he washed his hands in a cowardly way (Mt 27, 24) and ordered Jesus to be crucified. Years later, Pilate was removed from office for his brutal actions and banished to Gaul. How, then, to explain this strange intrusion of Pilate in the Creed?

When the early Church introduced Pilate into the Creed, it was not acting irresponsibly but with great wisdom. The reference to Pilate places Jesus in human history, in time -- under the Roman Empire and in Judea, where Pontius Pilate was governor. Jesus, and therefore the Christian faith centered on Jesus, the Son of the Father incarnate in Mary, is not an invention, a dream, an ideology or a beautiful myth to comfort our angst. Jesus is certainly an extraordinary, novel and mysterious event, but a historical one that is part of the history of salvation, part of our human history.

And it is great news that he suffered, was crucified and buried under the power of Pontius Pilate, has risen and is sitting with the Father. He who rose was the same Jesus of Nazareth who went about doing good and freeing victims of oppression (Acts 10:38).

This is the historical dimension of faith underlying the Creed when citing Pontius Pilate, the foundation upon which we Christians follow Jesus in today's world and our time, discerning the signs of the times and proclaiming the joy of the gospel to today's world. And it is a call to not wash our hands before the real problems of our time, not put our selfish interests ahead of the defense of truth and justice, not be content with asking skeptically, like Pilate, "What is the truth?"(Jn 18,38). Because the truth is siding with those who suffer, with the poor and oppressed, as Jesus did -- He is the truth (Jn 14:14). Washing one's hands like Pilate did ends up producing victims ...

Pilate's presence in the Creed not only roots Jesus in history but becomes a negative warning of how we are not to act in life -- we can't act like Pilate. All this we can keep in mind when, while reciting the creed -- both the short and the long one, we say that Jesus "suffered under Pontius Pilate" ...

Third Theology Congress: The Legacy of the Martyrs For the Future

Blessings on the Theology Department of the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in San Salvador for posting a web site with videos of the presentations and other documentaries relating to their March 18-23,2015 conference on the theme "El Legado de los mártires de cara al futuro" ("The Legacy of the Martyrs For the Future"). For your convenience, we have made a list of all the available videos here as well. The videos themselves are in Spanish so we will not translate the titles. The conference site also contains biographies of all the speakers.


Friday, April 10, 2015

The initiation of Dom Helder Camara's path to sainthood now has a date

By Luis Miguel Modino (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Religión Digital
April 9, 2015

The Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife announced at a press conference on April 8 and informed through its web page that on May 3rd at 9 a.m. the people of God of the capital of the state of Pernambuco will meet at the Cathedral of the Holy Savior of the World in Olinda to celebrate the opening of the beatification and canonization process of Dom Helder Camara who was archbishop of this Brazilian archdiocese for over 20 years.

In this celebration, Monseñor Fernando Saburido, the current archbishop of Olinda and Recife, will introduce the members of the legal commission that will be responsible for recognizing the heroic virtues of one of the most important Brazilian figures of the past century and whose international recognition goes beyond the boundaries of the Catholic Church. The prayer to ask for the intercession of Monseñor Helder Camara will also be presented.

At the press conference, the head of the Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife signed the document publicizing the authorization of the Holy See, recorded in a letter sent by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and signed by Cardinal Angelo Amato, dated February 25th of this year in response to a letter sent on May 27th, 2014 in which Monseñor Saburido asked if there was any impediment to opening the beatification process of Dom Helder. The archbishop himself expressed his surprise at the rapid response of the Vatican Congregation.

Monseñor Fernando Saburido has always shown clear appreciation for his predecessor. And he stated it once again in the press conference when he said, "I have enormous affection for Dom Helder and since I came to the archdiocese, this wish of the people of God has existed." That attitude contrasts with Monseñor José Cardoso Sobrinho, successor to Dom Helder and predecessor of Monseñor Saburido, who took it upon himself to squander the memory of the one who is now being considered by the Church as a possible saint.

The process that will soon be initiated, and whose postulator is Frey Jociel Gomes, is made up of different parts that once completed will raise Dom Helder to be considered venerable, blessed, and a saint. It starts with drafting various documents and will move forward as miracles through the intercession of the Servant of God are recognized, as canon law calls for.

The importance of this news for Brazilian society is marked by the prominence it has had in the news headlines of "Rede Globo", the main Brazilian television network, which has highlighted the figure of Dom Helder and his contribution to the social development of the South American giant.

We can say of Monseñor Helder Cámara, born in Fortaleza on February 7, 1909, that he was one of the most outstanding people not just in the Catholic Church but in Brazilian society in the 20th century.

He was always one of the great defenders of the cause of the poor, especially during the era of the dictatorship that ravaged the country during the same period he was Archbishop of Olinda and Recife. The military regime accused him of being a Communist and a demagogue, being known as the "red bishop" as a result of his constant denunciations of the situation of persecution, exploitation and destitution in which a large part of the Brazilian population was living.

The result of this was the constant reprisals to which he was subjected, causing his house to be machine-gunned, his name not to be able to appear in the national press, an international campaign promoted against his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, and his most immediate collaborators to be imprisoned or even killed, as happened with priest Antonio Henrique Pereira Neto in 1970.

Dom Helder died on August 27, 1999, and his reputation for holiness has been growing with the passing of years, especially among the poorest people. He was buried in the Cathedral of the Holy Savior of the World in Olinda, where the initial celebration of this process will take place which many hope will lead him to the honor of sainthood.

Living in his presence

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
April 12, 2015

John 20:19-31

John's account could not be more suggestive or challenging. Only when they see the risen Jesus among them is the group of disciples transformed. They regain peace, their fears disappear, they are filled with an unknown joy, they notice Jesus' spirit upon them and they open the doors because they feel sent to live out the same mission which he had received from the Father.

The current crisis in the Church, its fears and its lack of spiritual strength originate at a deep level. Often the idea of the resurrection of Jesus and his presence among us is more of a conceived and preached doctrine than a living experience.

The Risen Christ is at the center of the Church but his living presence is not rooted in us. It's not incorporated into the substance of our communitiesand doesn't usually nourish our projects. After twenty centuries of Christianity, Jesus isn't known or understood in his originality. He isn't loved or followed as he was by his disciples.

You can tell right away when a a Christian group or community feels as if it's inhabited by that invisible but real and active presence of the risen Christ. They aren't content to routinely follow the guidelines governing ecclesial life. They have a special sensitivity to listening to, seeking, remembering and applying the Gospel of Jesus. They are the healthiest and most alive spaces of the Church.

Nothing and nobody today can bring us the strength, joy and creativity we need to face an unprecedented crisis, as can the living presence of the risen Christ. Deprived of his spiritual force, we won't get out of our almost innate passivity, we'll continue with doors closed to the modern world, we'll go on doing "what's instructed" without joy or conviction. Where will we find the strength we need to recreate and reform the Church?

We have to react. We need Jesus more than ever. We need to experience his living presence, remember at all times his criteria and his Spirit, think about his life again and again, let him be the inspiration for our actions. He can spread more light and strength to us than anyone. He is in the midst of us, communicating his peace, his joy, and his Spirit.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Colombian woman priest denounces sexism in the Catholic Church

Caracol Radio (English translation by Rebel Girl)
April 3, 2015

Olga Lucía Álvarez from Antioquia, the first ordained woman priest in Latin America and one of fourwomen priests in Colombia, laments the sin of sexism that still exists in Catholicism, that applies canon 1024, according to which only baptized men can be ordained.

"Is the water with which they baptized men different or is it that we don't need baptism," Álvarez wonders in a conversation with 6 AM Hoy por hoy.

She said that although the Catholic hierarchy says they are excommunicated, "we don't accept it, because they can't take away our baptism nor can they throw us out of the Church."

Olga Lucía Álvarez belongs to the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests -- ARCWP, whose bishop Bridget Mary Meehan ordained her in December 2010 in Sarasota, USA.

In Colombia they have 4 headquarters, two of them in Medellin and Soacha. However, she clarifies that they don't have churches or buildings. They tend to the people in their homes or in some church that their Protestant brethren lend them.

She notes that unlike in the Catholic Church, authority is circular, not vertical and not of power but of service.

"Jesus never built a church. He commanded his disciples to serve and that mandate was underscored by Mary," said Alvarez the priest, who asserts that they have the support of some priests.

Olga Lucía Álvarez pointed out that she began serving the needy hand in hand with Monseñor Gerardo Valencia Cano, bishop of Buenaventura, whose secretary she was.

The hierarch was known as the "red bishop" for his work with the poorest communities.

She asserted that in her opinion celibacy should be optional because it goes against divine law. She said that the association she belongs to has women who have celebrated the marriages of their children and baptized their grandchildren.

On the issue of abortion, she stated that it's a matter of personal conscience. "One would have to look at each individual case. Have mercy and listen to each woman who has a different case. They aren't all the same," she said.

(end of Caracol Radio article)

* Translator's note: A fifth woman living in Colombia was ordained a "Catacomb" priest in March 2015  in Sarasota, Florida, by Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan under the assumed name "Luz Galilea." "Catacomb" priests do not publicize their real names because doing so might negatively impact themselves or their loved ones.

Colombian women priests in the press

The Colombian women priests have been getting a lot of media coverage this month thanks to Agence France Presse. Aida Soto, Olga Lucia Alvarez, and finally Judith Bautista are shown in the following video produced by the news agency.

The news agency also produced a print article about the women, Latin America's first women priests challenge Church. Judith Bautista neatly sums up ARCWP's stand at the end of this article. "I believe the spirit is called to a renewal, not only on women in the priesthood, but on inclusiveness in the Church," the priest told AFP.