Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Teresa Forcades denounces the Church's "connivance with power, structural misogyny, and clericalism"

by C. Doody/Agencias (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Religión Digital
April 18, 2017

"The connivance with power, structural misogyny, and clericalism." These are the three evils that afflict the Church today, according to theologian, Benedictine nun, and medical doctor Teresa Forcades in a new book. The three are contrary to the Gospel and she is demanding that the hierarchy acknowledge and confront them now, "with the due diligence and consistency" that the people of God are demanding.

Forcades, who requested exclaustration until August 2018 to devote herself to Catalan politics, has just published the book Els reptes del Papa Francesc ("The challenges of Pope Francis",Viena Ed., 2017 -- in Catalan), in which she describes and comments on the challenges the pontiff will have to face to achieve the renewal and modernization of the Church.

"The challenges that the Church is facing at the present moment include, among others, the manipulation of the human factor in democratic societies and religious persecution in the non-democratic ones," the nun, a supporter of fundamental reform of Church doctrine on matters such as women's participation, abortion, and church hierarchy, states in her book.

"This book deals with the necessary church renewal," states Forcades, who denounces what she deems to be "serious inconsistencies," "internal and unjust inconsistencies."

According to the author, the book is a "tribute" to those who are struggling within the Church for its reform.

"Internal criticism, in and out of the Church, has never been an easy task," the nun, who isn't wearing a habit now, acknowledges.

For Forcades, "after the openness and accelerated aggiornamento ('updating') that the 2nd Vatican Council (1962-1965) represented for a Church that had practically rejected modernity and turned its back on it, we've experienced almost half a century of resistance to the Council, of reinterpretation of its basic insights, conservatism, increasing centralism and institutional control, and putting on the brakes."

"The Latin American liberation theologians, men and women, are the ones who have suffered most from the consequences of this involution and are those who have contributed most to overcoming the connivance with power and who've stood up for a true 'Church of the poor'," Forcades argues.

"We women, and women religious in particular, are the ones who have suffered most directly from misogyny and we are fighting against it. And all of us faithful are suffering directly from the clericalism and there are also organized groups of laypeople and priests working to overcome it," she asserts.

The book is structured in three parts and a conclusion. The first part offers a brief panorama of the current situation in the Roman Catholic Church and the expectations opened by Pope Francis. The second exposes Forcades' theoretical assumptions when addressing Church renewal. And the third analyzes the most active renewal movements within the Church today.

Among the groups the nun analyzes are the movement of Catholic women ordained as priests, the married priests' one, the group of divorced people within the Church, the Christian LGBTQ movements, and those that oppose the Vatican II reforms.

According to the Benedictine nun, the election of Pope Francis in 2013 opened a period of great expectations in which many Christian trusted that there would be a change of focus within the Catholic Church and that he would address the "conflict between doctrine and life experience that many Christians are suffering in the flesh."

"But it doesn't seem like this process is going to be as quick as many hoped it would be," she points out.

Forcades warns, however, that "the renewal of the Church, like that of society, has always been initiated from below, and in that sense there are many movements today that are seeking an answer in the Catholic Church to issues that challenge them very directly, because they put their spiritual experience and their personal lives in conflict."

Priestly celibacy, contraception and abortion, women's ordination, the Church's attitude towards divorced Catholics, its stance with respect to homosexual Catholics and the institution's attitude towards victims in pedophilia cases that have taken place in religious schools, are some of the challenges Forcades mentions.

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