Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Teresa Forcades warns that the identity debate could make Rajoy win

EFE/La Vanguardia (English translation by Rebel Girl)
September 9, 2015

Benedictine nun, medical doctor, theologian and promoter of Procés Constituent, Teresa Forcades today warned that making the campaign just about the Catalan identity debate favors the interests of the PP [People's Party] "and could make (Mariano) Rajoy win in the general election."

Forcades requested from the Vatican temporary exclaustration from the monastery where she was living to stand for the Sept. 27 election, but could not do so in the end because Procés Constituent was divided between those who supported the candidacy of Catalunya Sí que es Po and the CUP [Popular Unity Candidacy] ones.

In an interview with EFE one day before the start of the election campaign in which she hasn't been able to participate, Forcades revealed that she will wait to see the political map that remains after the regional elections to decide about her future, "whether or not I return to the monastery," and her participation in politics, although she is still doing the same intellectual work as when she was living in community.

The nun has opined that "you can't substitute elections for a referendum" as Catalan President Artur Mas has done, and she thinks it's "bad news" that the Junts pel Sí candidacy has been formed, because "segregated slates would have allowed us not to forget what kind of country we want; that is a matter that can not be put off until later."

"Moreover, as happened during the Transition, the one who leads a process marks off the field where the game is played," said the nun, who has stated, "I don't trust the separatism of the CDC [Democratic Convergence of Catalonia]."

To Forcades, the ideal scenario in this election would have been to be able to choose between three models for the new country, "the CDC liberal one, ERC's [Republican Left of Catalonia] social democratic one and CUP's anti-capitalist one" and she has acknowledged that her intention when requesting exclaustration was to collaborate on a candidacy that "would unite the national and the social core concepts."

In this regard, she warned that she views the campaign as "poorly focused" because if it focuses on "the identity debate, it helps Rajoy win the general election" and she has announced that Procés Constituent would organize during the campaign debates to encourage talking about social issues.

Forcades, who on the 20th will give a lecture in Philadelphia (USA) on women's ordination and another on the 21st at Princeton University (USA) on the political situation in Spain and Catalonia, has opined that the Podemos circles in Catalonia, "that are neither anti-Catalan nor anti-separatist, have been able to mobilize many citizens."

The nun is also preparing, at the request of a foreign publisher, her first book in English, which has the working title "Freedom and love: A radical manifesto."

Among her tasks is also giving theology classes that she used to give at the monastery and now at the Centro Cultural Bonnemaisson in Barcelona.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Message of the 35th Congreso de Teología

Redes Cristianas (English translation by Rebel Girl)
September 13, 2015

From September 10 to 13, 2015, we held the 35th Theology Congress which brought together people from different countries, continents, cultures and religions to reflect on "religions, violence and paths to peace" and contribute to the building of a more just, peaceful, and solidary world.

There are 42 armed conflicts in the world today, to which must be added the violence of governments and terrorist organizations against the civilian populations. These conflicts are causing the destruction of human lives, damage to nature, elimination of ancient cultural expressions, exoduses, massive displacements and migrations, as well as persecution of religious and cultural minorities. In 2015, there have been about 3,000 deaths in the Mediterranean because of the inhuman conditions in which hundreds of thousands of people fleeing hunger are making the crossing, while capital has no borders, circulating freely and safely under the government protection.

In such conflicts, economic and political factors are involved and religions play an important, sometimes decisive, role, becoming a source of violence or, at least, a justification and vehicle of social mobilization for it. A not inconsiderable part of the responsibility lies with neoliberal globalization, which behaves aggressively and even violently towards the subordinate cultural and religious identities, whose lands the multinationals exploit to their own advantage with severe damage to the environment and the life of the indigenous communities.

Violence is closely linked to corruption, the exploitation of human beings, loss of values, structural injustice, and increased inequality. In Europe, 123 million people live in poverty, while there are 342,000 millionaires. The richest one percent has a third of the wealth of the continent. Thirty percent of European girls and boys live below the poverty line. Spain is the fourth most unequal country in the European Union. The situations of poverty and inequality are still more pronounced in the African and Latin American continents.

Violence has many faces and countless manifestations. The most extreme is gender violence, a permanent instrument of power and domination of patriarchy against women in society and religions, leading to mass femicide. In Spain, in the last thirteen years, there have been 790 murders of women. Patriarchal violence is widespread among adolescents and young people, in the workplace and in childhood, where it occurs persistently and in a hidden way. We paid special attention to girls and boys stolen with the direct complicity of Catholic institutions.

Feminism responds to gender violence with a discourse critical of discrimination against women and practices based on the equal dignity of human beings. The Catholic hierarchy, however, far from condemning patriarchal violence, keeps silent and what it condemns is gender theory. It exerts violence against women by denying them access to the ordained ministry, excluding them from the spheres of responsibility, denying them sexual and reproductive rights, and imposing a repressive morality on them.

As a response to the various forms of violence, we think that a paradigm shift of religions with these characteristics is necessary: an option for impoverished individuals, peoples, and continents, working for justice and the defense of human rights, especially for people who are denied such rights, equality between men and women in all areas of religious life, acknowledgement of the different sexual identities, recognition of diversity, respect for others, ethnic, cultural and religious differences, intra- and inter-religious dialogue, solidarity, sustainability, care for our common home and protection of biodiversity, building a culture of peace through collaboration in peace agreements and negotiated response to conflict, and hospitality. Only then will they cease to be sources of violence and become ways of peace.

We ask the nations for military disarmament and moral rearmament, replacing the arms race and the arms trade with policies of cooperation with the countries in the southern hemisphere, overcoming ethnocentrism and developing policies of solidarity and welcome, the opening of borders to all immigrants, refugees and persons displaced by hunger, religious intolerance, and political persecution. Asylum is a human right which cannot be denied to anyone.

We call upon the religions and their leaders to eliminate religious boundaries that separate and sometimes lead to religious wars, to develop the language and practice of solidarity, to overcome inbreeding and develop a macro-ecumenism of active nonviolence, hospitality and the struggle for The justice.

We welcome Pope Francis' sensitivity to immigration, his denunciations against the lack of solidarity in Europe in the face of this tragedy and his calls for hospitality. Consistent with such an attitude, we ask him to open wide the doors of the Vatican State to people who come to our countries in search of better living conditions and fleeing violence. Thus his denunciations will be credible.

We commit ourselves to fighting against the unfair neoliberal economic model at its root, to collaborating in welcoming immigrants and refugees with organizations working in that direction, to opening the doors of our homes and our communities and to allocating a part of the collection to this end.

We have as examples in the work for peace today, among others, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Monsignor Romero, martyr of justice, the Jesuit martyrs and their two colleagues Elba and Celina, the innocent people killed in El Mozote and Sumpul, the Maryknoll sister martyrs, Pedro Casaldàliga, and Amina Wadud, who in a climate of colonial, political, religious, racial, sexist, structural and ecological violence, worked for reconciliation, justice, fraternity-sorority and care of the earth, always siding with the "crucified" and the wretched of the earth. Madrid, September 13, 2015