Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Boston Declaration

Below is the English version of the final message issued by the First Ibero-American Theology Meeting which took place at Boston College, February 6-10, 2017. The message was issued in four languages -- Spanish, Portuguese, English and French -- and you can find them all on ReligiĆ³n Digital.


For several days, Catholic theologians from Ibero-America met in the city of Boston, United States, guided by a spirit of interculturality, ecumenism, and solidarity. Our ecclesial vocation inspired us to examine, learn, teach, and communicate the richness of the Christian faith in the church and society. We shared our experiences, reflections, prayers, and the Eucharist to commonly discern the signs of the times in this new global era. In this declaration, we share some of the fruits of our work with both the church community and the public in general.

We recognize, with happiness and joy, that we live at an auspicious time for the development of theology and in the life of the church. We live in an ecclesial kairos moment, evident in the new processes initiated by Francis, the bishop of Rome and the first Latin-American pope. His efforts towards evangelical renewal, expressed in the need for a reform of both our limited ways of thinking and our ecclesial structures, encourage us to consider the presence of God in history and to examine the realities that reject God therein. Our deliberations uncovered shared features and signs of a common history, and it is from them that we want to examine the present and future challenges of this global era. Hence, we stress the importance of examining, from the perspective of the Word of God proclaimed in the church, the socio-political and economic situation of our nations, which is an essential locus theologicus for the church. It is in this situation, in this place, that the church is called to incarnate itself in order to accompany, as the people of God, the peoples of this world.

We want to discern our experience as believers from the perspective of the key social questions of this time. Socioeconomically, this experience is characterized by the presence of social systems and relationships of exclusion and inequality. The socio-cultural sphere points to the need to move from the pluri-cultural to the intercultural. The socio-political calls for the urgent need to consolidate representative democratic systems and foster those expressions of civil society that propose a more humane vision of the world. In this context, we confirm our preferential option for those who are poor and excluded.

Latin America and the Caribbean is not the poorest region in economic terms, but continue to be the most unequal. The cause for this is not a question of inheritances or the rent of land, as it is in Europe or the United States of America, but in the unequal distribution of income and opportunities, including the unequal distribution of concentrated private land, which generates wealth for a few and poverty for the many. We urgently need a prophetic theology able to desacralize false gods. We cannot stop denouncing the economic and cultural causes for poverty, and must be attentive to the different sociopolitical mediations that seek to overcome it. An inculturated prophetic theology presumes the whence of our theology and the social place where we choose to stand to understand reality. Thus, it is necessary a critical discernment of the new styles of "neo-populist type" (Document of Aparecida 74), which have begun to emerge through Democratic ways in various Countries of the Americas.

In the context of all the Ibero-American languages that mediate the Gospel, we have reflected upon the service that a theology articulated in Spanish or Castilian offers to the church community, and especially to the universal magisterium. We are mindful of the widespread and the socio-cultural importance of the Spanish language in the Catholic world. Our work has confirmed the need to increase the personal and institutional relationship between Spanish and Portuguese speaking LatinAmerican theologians, Spanish theologians, and U.S. Latino/a theologians. We propose a historical and theologal theology ready to engage those issues that affect the Ibero-Latin-American cultural and ecclesial context.

Encouraged by the Spirit who moves from the margins of the church and the underside of history, we believe that the peripheries are theological places that force theology to ask: When is a people authentically Christian? When it has many churches, or when it rejects poverty? Thus, we ratify our inescapable commitment to our brothers and sisters from the peripheries of society, scourged by poverty and so many forms of social, economic, political, and ecclesial exclusion that call for our urgent struggle on behalf of greater integration and inclusion. It also demands a greater fidelity from our ecclesial institutions to Jesus of Nazareth, the liberating Messiah, Lord of history and Son of God. We recognize that unjust poverty kills because it generates forms of premature death that we must reject. We are believers who wager on the praxis of mercy with justice. Our option for the poor is rooted in the memory of our martyrs' blood, in celebrating their lives, and in remembering their self-offering for the people of God, which is the light that illuminates our theological task.

In light of the gravity of this historical moment, which calls for the deeper commitment of our communities, we insist on the urgent need to collaborate with the theology and pastoral plan of Pope Francis. We support a theology that attends to the reality of social conflicts and makes its way through the peripheries. Just like the shepherds who live with the smell of sheep, theologians must smell like their people and their streets; thus, the need to pay back the pastoral debt that professional theology still has with our poor people. Within this context, theology must be saturated by an evangelical mercy that promotes a church of the poor and for the poor—a church where the poor become the subjects of their own history and not the object of ideological manipulations. The poor, many times victims of violence, are privileged theological places, our commitment is not only to walk with them, but also to let ourselves be evangelized and transformed by them in an ongoing process of pastoral and missionary conversion.

We recognize that current globalization processes have allowed a greater interdependence and exchange between distant people. Nonetheless, we also endure its sociocultural outcomes. Thus, we note, with some perplexity, the globalization of indifference, of indolence. We pay special attention to the complex phenomenon of migration, the precarious nature of employment, and the lack of opportunities generated by systems that do not assume the cause of the poor or consider them authentic subjects of their own processes. We have entered a new world stage that some call "de-globalization," and that seems to be characterized by our inability to relate as mutual subjects engaged in reciprocal humanizing relationships.

We believe that migrants are a great sign of our times. In them, Christians are called to recognize the face and the voice of Jesus (Mt. 25:35) and respond to the following insights: the affirmation of the dignity of every human being, the promotion of a "culture of encounter," and the praxis of fraternity, hospitality, and compassion. The reality of migration invites us to build processes of interculturality as a key element in our theological reflection. The presence of multiple cultures in our countries calls for a deepening of our recognition of alterity, a welcoming embrace to the richness given to us by our differences, and the permanent expansion of the horizon of our theological reflections. All of this assumes the reciprocal learning from our daily experiences, and demands the constant openness to changing our thinking based on our encounter with the life of the poor.

Our practices cannot continue producing forms of domination, like those marked by the clericalism that disrespects lay people. Institutional rigidities fail to mediate the merciful images of the God of Jesus and hinder the much-needed process of pastoral conversion in the church. In this regard, it is important to emphasize the value of the new contextual theologies, like those practiced by indigenous and AfroAmerican women, which highlight the experiences of subjects who have been marginalized in their social and ecclesial life. Their commitment to the liberation of victims of exclusion has emphasized their struggles and the difficulties they have endured. In a similar manner, we note the work produced by women theologians who invite us to make a greater commitment toward nature and against the causes of women's oppression. They articulate a more adequate conception of the type of transformation that our societies must follow for a fuller and more authentically Christian development.

We also highlight the contributions of U.S. Latino/a theology as an effective way to reflect upon the preferential option for the poor, and the defense of the cultural and religious identity of Latino/a communities that are all too often discriminated against in society and within the church. This theology has focused its attention on key themes of the Latino/a experience in the United States like mestizaje and popular religion with its particular Marian expressions and lo cotidiano. We believe that only through the recognition of the socio-cultural and religious roots of the Latino/a population will the churches of the United States and Canada be able to offer an effective pastoral response to the increased transformation of these churches. In this sense, a better preparation and sensitivity of the ministers and all the pastoral agents is urged.

These considerations point out that the synodical reform of the whole Church, in the complexity of its various instances and in creative fidelity to the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, constitutes an inescapable presupposition for the conception of life, mission, and theology of the ecclesial communities. As Ibero-Latin-American theologians, we support with great hope the process of reform that the current Bishop of Rome has called for in the mentalities and structures of the church.

The people of God is a community of missionary disciples called, in a dynamic of departure and donation, to witness the Gospel under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Only an institution that is spiritually more evangelical, theologically more consistent, and pastorally more open to sociocultural and religious diversity will be able to respond to the challenges of working for justice, peace, and the care of our common home, from a stance of genuine attention to the most poor and the excluded of our age.

Mary, especially in the image and the name of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Patroness of America, accompanies our walk.

Photo: Some of the participants at the First Ibero-American Theology Meeting.

Rosary of the Migrant

I found this Rosary in Spanish online here but chose to substitute in the Mysteries from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Migration and Refugee Services' "Scriptural Rosary." It strikes me as something we could commit to praying in the face of the Trump administration's recent actions against our immigrant brothers and sisters. I have translated some of the prayers from the Spanish version of the Rosary which is more elaborate than the usual English one. This text is available in Spanish here.-- Rebel Girl

The Church has always contemplated in migrants and refugees the image of Christ who said, "I was a stranger and you welcomed me." (Gospel of Matthew, 25:35). For her, their tribulations are a challenge to the faith and love of believers who thus are called to heal the injuries that arise from migration. Therefore, throughout the centuries, she has given great importance to the spiritual care of migrants...

By the sign of the cross deliver us from our enemies, you who are our God. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

APOSTLES' CREED
I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

ACT OF CONTRITION
My God, I heartily repent for having offended You because You are infinitely good. You suffered and died on the cross for me. I love you with all my heart and resolve never to offend You again. Amen.

OUR FATHER
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen

HAIL MARY
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

GLORY BE
Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

FIRST MYSTERY: Lord Jesus, help us to trust in you as Mary did, to be the dwelling in which you live and to carry you with us wherever we go. Read the first mystery. Pray one "Our Father", ten "Hail Mary"s and a "Glory Be."

SECOND MYSTERY: Lord Jesus, help us to find worthy work so we might serve others, according to Mary's example. Read the second  mystery. Pray one "Our Father", ten "Hail Mary"s and a "Glory Be."

THIRD MYSTERY: Lord Jesus, help us find a place to stay and give us generous hearts to receive our fellow migrants with love. Read the third mystery. Pray one "Our Father", ten "Hail Mary"s and a "Glory Be."

FOURTH MYSTERY: Lord Jesus, give us the necessary strength and courage that, wherever we are, we might defend the sacred values of our family. Read the fourth mystery. Pray one "Our Father", ten "Hail Mary"s and a "Glory Be."

FIFTH MYSTERY: Lord Jesus, give us the strength to go on walking, loving, and serving in this life, like Mary, that we might, like her, merit arriving at the final homeland that you have promised us.Read the fifth mystery. Pray one "Our Father", ten "Hail Mary"s and a "Glory Be."

FINAL PRAYERS

O sovereign Sanctuary, Tabernacle of the Eternal Word.
Free from Hell, Most Holy Virgin, those of us who pray your Rosary.

Powerful Empress, consolation of mortals,
Free us, Virgin of Heaven, with a blessed death.

And give us purity of heart.
Since you are so powerful.

Hail Most Holy Mary, Daughter of God the Father, Virgin Most Pure before the birth, into your hands we commend our faith that you might enlighten it, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Hail Most Holy Mary, Mother of God the Son, Virgin Most Pure during the birth, into your hands we commend our hope that you might lift it, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Hail Most Holy Mary, Wife of God the Holy Spirit, Virgin Most Pure after the birth, into your hands we commend our charity that you might kindle it, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Hail Most Holy Mary, temple and sanctuary of the Holy Trinity, Virgin conceived without original sin.

SALVE REGINA

Hail, holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To you we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to you we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy toward us; and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.


LITANY

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Our Lady who welcomed the Holy Spirit, pray for us.
Our Lady of every path, pray for us.
Our Lady of every race, pray for us.
Our Lady of every language, pray for us.
Consolation of every family, pray for us.
Hope of every nation, pray for us.
Queen of all continents, pray for us.
Faithful Servant Virgin, pray for us.
Virgin humble and poor like us, pray for us.
Sanctuary of the One who is Life, pray for us.
Refuge in our leaving and returning, pray for us.
Our Lady of migrants, pray for us.
Mother of wanderers and pilgrims, pray for us.
Mother of the discriminated against, pray for us.
Mother of the persecuted, pray for us.
Mother of refugees and deportees, pray for us.
Mother of strangers, pray for us.
Mother of native peoples, pray for us.
Mother of the undocumented, pray for us.
Mother of abandoned children, pray for us.
Mother of the enslaved, pray for us.
Mother of those chained by vices, pray for us.
Mother of the homeless, pray for us.
Mother of the sick and suffering, pray for us.
Mother of the lonely, pray for us.
Mother of the hopeless, pray for us.
Mother of the disabled, pray for us.
Queen of those who work for peace, pray for us.
Queen of those who fight for justice, pray for us.
Queen of those who help their neighbor, pray for us.
Queen of the merciful, pray for us.
Queen of those who defend life, pray for us.
Queen of those who help migrants, pray for us.
Queen of those who are faithful in marriage, pray for us.
Queen of all the saints, pray for us.
Queen of heaven and earth, pray for us.
Star of the New Evangelization, pray for us.
Dawn of a New World, pray for us.
Mother of unity of the Church, pray for us.
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, forgive us, O Lord.
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, hear us, O Lord
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Under your protection we take refuge, Holy Mother of God. Do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us from all dangers, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.

Sweet Mother, do not depart from me, do not turn your eyes from me. Come with me everywhere and never leave me alone. Since you protect me like a true Mother, make the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit bless me. AMEN.

THE JOYFUL MYSTERIES (Monday and Saturday)

The Annunciation--Luke 1:29-32
"Do not be afraid," the Angel Gabriel told Mary. When we are confronted with change in our lives, it is hard not to be afraid. For the immigrant and refugee, change may require leaving behind family, friends, and home. When we make room in our lives to welcome newcomers, we change as well. We pray for the grace of love, which casts out all fear.

The Visitation--Luke 1:39-45
During her pregnancy, Mary was a woman on the move, going to visit her cousin Elizabeth in the hill country. Today, millions of women—often pregnant or with young children—are forced to flee their homelands. We pray for the grace of hospitality, to welcome them into our country and our homes as Elizabeth welcomed Mary.

The Nativity--Luke 2:1-7; Matthew 2:13-15
Jesus was born a migrant. Bethlehem had no room, no welcome for the outsiders, so Jesus was born in a stable. The wrath of King Herod turned Jesus and his family into refugees. Today, migrants and refugees are still forced from their homes by poverty, war, disaster, or oppression. We pray for the grace of charity, to offer them comfort and consolation.

The Presentation--Luke 2:22-38
Simeon and Anna created a welcoming community when the Holy Family came to the temple. They were rewarded with the recognition that they had seen God's Holy One. We are challenged to create welcoming communities in our own churches. We pray for the grace to recognize Jesus present in each immigrant and refugee.

The Finding in the Temple--Luke 2:41-50
How frantic Mary and Joseph must have been to discover that the child Jesus was missing, and how relieved they were to recover him. Many thousands of refugees today are "unaccompanied minors"—lost children with no parents to seek and reclaim them. We pray for the grace to find loving homes and families for them, as we would for Jesus himself.

THE LUMINOUS MYSTERIES (Thursday)

The Baptism in the Jordan--Mark 1:9-11
When John baptized Jesus, the heavens opened, the Spirit descended, and a heavenly voice proclaimed: "You are my beloved Son." Yet many still refused to recognize Jesus as the anointed one of God. Today, many still fail to recognize the signs of our Christ's presence in our immigrant sisters and brothers. We pray for the grace to open ourselves to welcome Christ.

The Wedding at Cana--John 2:1-12
Jesus initially resisted beginning his public ministry at Cana, saying, "My hour has not yet come." Yet in the face of need, he could not fail to respond. We too have many reasons why we do not have time to get involved in public issues such as immigration. In the face of our sister's and brother's need, however, how can we refuse? We ask for the grace to act on behalf of others when God calls us.

The Proclamation of the Kingdom--Matthew 5–7
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaimed a Kingdom that turns the world's traditional wisdom on end. In the Kingdom of God, it is the poor, the meek, the peacemakers, and the oppressed who are blessed, while the rich and powerful turn away sad. We pray for the grace to create this Peaceable Kingdom in our age, by welcoming the poor, oppressed migrants who turn to us seeking a home.

The Transfiguration--Luke 9:29-36
When the dazzling brilliance of the transfigured Jesus was revealed to the disciples, they saw not only a prefiguring of the Resurrection, but also the change they themselves would undergo when the received the fullness of the Spirit at Pentecost. We pray for the grace of transformation—of ourselves and of our nation—into the welcoming Body of Christ.

The Institution of the Eucharist--Luke 24:19-27
Even as Jesus gave his own body and blood to the Apostles, they persisted in quarreling over who was the greatest. Christ's last instruction to them was that the greatest is the one who serves the lowliest. We ask for the grace to serve those who come among us as "aliens," unwelcome and spurned.

THE SORROWFUL MYSTERIES (Tuesday and Friday)

The Agony in the Garden--Mark 14:34-42
Part of Christ's suffering was that he endured it alone. The Apostles slumbered while his persecutors approached. Are we asleep as well? Do we recognize the injustice of current immigration policy? Do we speak on behalf of asylum seekers? We pray for the grace of solidarity with those who are denied welcome in our country.

The Scourging at the Pillar--John 19:1
Pilate used torture to try to force a confession from Jesus. Today, asylum seekers and torture victims who flee to the United States are often deported or imprisoned for failing to possess proper documents. We pray for forgiveness for our silence and the courage to speak out on their behalf.

The Crowning with Thorns--Matthew 27:27-30
Jesus' captors were not content with torture; they humiliated him, crowned him with thorns, and mocked him. Racism, prejudice, cruel stereotypes, and verbal abuse are the thorns that pierce many new migrants as they seek work, housing, and education for their children. We pray for compassion and for the grace to heal the wounds that divide us.

The Carrying of the Cross--Luke 23:26
The burden of the Cross was so great that without the help of Simon of Cyrene, Jesus would have been crushed by its weight. Often, refugees bear crushing guilt from having survived when their children, parents, and spouses died horribly. Who can endure this alone? We pray for the grace to be present to their suffering and help them carry their burden.

The Crucifixion--Mark 15:37
And with a loud cry, he breathed his last and died. Do the "illegal aliens" cry when they die of dehydration in the western desert, or drown in the Florida Straits, or suffocate in a cargo container? We pray for the grace to understand that no human is illegal, and that every life is sacred.

THE GLORIOUS MYSTERIES (Wednesday and Sunday)

The Resurrection--John 20:18
"I have seen the Lord!" With these words, Mary Magdalene answered the call to evangelize, to share the Gospel of new life with others. We are also called to share the Good News that Jesus is alive and among us today. Like Mary, however, at first we may not recognize him. We pray for the grace to recognize and proclaim the Body of Christ, alive in each person we meet.

The Ascension--Acts 1:11
"Why are you standing there looking at the sky?" the angels asked after Jesus was taken up. Why indeed do we stand waiting for Jesus to miraculously create a welcoming Kingdom? We are the ones who must seek the grace to change our hearts and our society. We are the ones who must create the welcoming community here on earth. We pray for the grace of conversion.

The Coming of the Holy Spirit--Acts 2:5-11
At Pentecost, people of every nation were in Jerusalem, yet each heard the Apostles' proclamation of the Spirit in their native tongues. Today we experience the same diversity of language and culture in our land. We pray for the grace of true communion: the appreciation of the richness and beauty that each tradition brings to God's table.

The Assumption--Luke 1:46-55
Mary glorified the Lord, and her spirit rejoiced in God her savior, and God raised her up and exalted her. In her Assumption, the lowly are raised up, the hungry are fed, and mercy is bestowed on God's children. We pray for the grace to follow Mary's example by our tender care for the stranger in our midst.

The Coronation of Mary--Revelations 12:1-6
It is a radiant Mary, clothed in the sun and crowned with stars, who reigns as Queen of Heaven and battles the dragon who would destroy her child. As her children, we are called to battle the dragons of fear, prejudice, intolerance, and exclusion that separate us from our sisters and brothers. We pray for the grace of courageous, loving hearts.