Sunday, September 25, 2016

Teresa Forcades, the revolutionary Catalan feminist theologian, says: "We are all different!"

by Sabina Caligiani (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Female WOR{l}D (in Italiano)
September 23, 2016

That women of all times have left an unmistakable and indelible mark on history beyond recognition in their returns, is beyond any doubt, and today, increasingly, the feminine is emerging in the international cultural scene. It's the case for Teresa Forcades, a feminist theologian among the most original and trendy of the Catholic world in talking about burning issues such as the role of women, divorce, abortion, and homosexuality which she addresses from a theological point of view.

A Benedictine nun from Catalonia, she has been out of the cloister for a year, with Vatican dispensation, to also deal with politics, to support the independence of Catalonia with the movement she founded, "Proc├ęs Constituent." Actually, she feels she is a revolutionary against violence, in sustaining the concept that society should be changed radically and recognizing the work of feminist pioneers, strenuous fighters for their rights in society and in the Church.

Teresa Forcades talks about this in her interview-book, "SIAMO TUTTI DIVERSI! Per una teologia queer" ["WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT!: For a queer theology"], by Cristina Guarnieri and Roberta Trucco (Castelvecchi, 2016), which will be launched on October 3rd at Casa Internazionale delle Donne in Rome at 7:30 p.m. Present at the event will be theologian Marinella Perroni, former president of the Coordinamento delle Teologhe italiane [Association of Italian Women Theologians], whom I have asked for a personal reflection about this publication.

Photo: Theologians Teresa Forcades (L) and Marinella Perroni (R)

Can you explain the origin and meaning of "for a queer theology"?

In reality it's not easy, because it's a term that, wishing to embrace the maximum of diversity, has in itself the impossibility to be confined in one definition. I would say that the application of queer theory, that is, an anthropological and social perspective able to explain sexuality and gender differences critically, to theology leads to deepening and at the same time making more specific the human reality with ever greater respect for all differences. This implies attention to the human subject, a partner in the revelation of God and in the relationship with God, considered from their real sexual diversity, no longer forced, that is, into stereotypical male-female duality, but open to a diversity of inclinations (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender). It is, basically, an application of the criteria of liberation theology, a liberation understood as a promise from God and as a practice of freedom before God, for all individual human subjects understood and respected based on their most profound particular traits, those related to sexual development.

How and when did you meet Teresa Forcades? Can you briefly outline the spiritual and human profile of this singular Benedictine nun?

I don't really remember exactly. I got to visit her monastery of San Benet in Montserrat, near Barcelona, several times. But, above all, I've shared with her the engagement in ESWTR (European Society of Women in Theological Research), the association of European women involved in various capacities in theological research.

In her book "La teologia femminista nella storia" ["Feminist theology in history"], Teresa Forcades speaks of women's right to self-determination in general, the role of women in the Catholic world, and her thoughts on gender are expressed...

Teresa is capable of neat and clear judgments, but she can accompany them with careful nuancing. It would do injustice to her thought, which ranges competently in two major areas of knowledge -- medicine and theology -- and which always moves in a politically inflected horizon, if it were reduced to a few lines. With her, you have to engage and debate. You may not agree, but from the encounter with her, one always comes out with an increased desire to move forward in reflection. Even with respect to the feminism-(Catholic) Church relationship, Teresa has always tried to open roads, never close them. The fact that sometimes she has found herself a bit farther ahead a bit earlier than others, is only because she intuits the roads along which our future will pass.

In your opinion, how fair is Teresa Forcades' analysis of feminist theology in relation to still unresolved matters, whether within the Church or in the contemporary political debate?

What could be fairer today than openly confronting -- within the Church and theology too -- the problems that are crucial for a truly human quality of our lives? There's no need to lock Teresa Forcades in her answers, as debatable as those of any woman (or any man) who today tries to remain faithful to the gospel in a Church that is so hard to open up to the complexity of the human being. Rather, there is a need to be challenged by her questions and share with her the desire to always seek new answers.

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