Thursday, August 2, 2018

The last battle of the activist nun: "I'm going back to the cloister"

by Paolo Rodari (English translation by Rebel Girl)
La Repubblica (in Italiano)
July 16, 2018

"The constituent process in Catalonia will end on the first of September. On that day I'll return to the normal life of the monastery, ever more convinced that the Catalan movement for independence from Spain is an opportunity to deepen democracy and tackle some fundamental issues of exclusion and social abuse. This has opened the eyes of many people to the insufficient nature of our democracy and to the fact that in the globalized twenty-first century, political power is subject to economic power."

A feminist theologian and Benedictine nun, Teresa Forcades left her cloister two years ago to engage in politics, fighting for the independence of Catalonia. In a month, she will return to the monastery where she will continue her battles, but in another way. Among the most read writers in Spain, engaged against the pharmaceutical industry lobby, for gender rights and for the LGBT world, she tells La Repubblica about these two years "outside the walls" and the challenges of the future, all with a look beyond the Spanish borders.

On Italy, for example, Forcades has precise ideas: "Lega ["The League"] is a far-right movement. All extreme right-wing movements are dangerous for democracy because they are by definition authoritarian, enemies of pluralism and suspicious of critical thinking. I believe that the widespread success of current right-wing authoritarianism in Europe is a reaction to the frustration created by capitalist democracy -- it is impossible to have political democracy without economic democracy. One can't be expected to act as a responsible democratic citizen after spending ten hours a day working in degrading conditions for a poor salary. The book Hired by James Bloodworth opens one's eyes in that sense and so does Il mondo deve sapere ["The world must know"] by Michela Murgia."

For Forcades the political ideal is the United Nations, "but not the one we have today, with the right of veto, nor the European Union we have today, designed to favor economic powers." "The economic powers," she says, "have more power than politicians, more power than voters. I see this as the main problem."

In the Church, Forcades is always an active nudge. In fact, there are many subjects on which the Church is struggling to have a new view. Among these, homosexuality. The catechism preaches acceptance, but at the same time asks that homosexual persons live in chastity. Says Forcades: "I think it's deeply inhuman. I believe that homosexual marriage should be recognized as a sacrament because what constitutes the sacrament of marriage is what this particular human bond has in common with the life of the Trinity and the life of the Trinity has nothing to do with gender or sexual complementarity and nothing to do with having children. Homosexuality is not a problem, homophobia is." And again: "On some issues, such as social justice, the Church's doctrine and some of its practices are prophetic and ahead of our times. On other matters, the Church is really behind. It is particularly behind on sexual morality (such as prohibiting contraception) and on the role of women and I think this is most likely a consequence of having only celibate males who govern the Church."

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