Friday, January 13, 2017

Primer Encuentro Iberoamericano de Teologia -- February 6-10, 2017

Boston College will host what is being billed as the First Ibero-American Theology Encounter on the theme "Present and Future of an Inculturated Ibero-American Theology in Times of Globalization, Interculturality and Exclusion." The meeting, which is mostly closed to the general public, will be held February 6-10, 2017, and participants include:

  • Omar César Albado (Argentina)
  • Virginia Azcuy (Argentina)
  • Luis Aranguren Gonzalo (Spain)
  • Agenor Brighenti (Brazil)
  • Harvey Cox (USA)
  • José Carlos Caamaño (Argentina)
  • Víctor Codina SJ (Bolivia)
  • Emilce Cuda (Argentina)
  • Allan Figueroa-Deck SJ (USA)
  • Mario Ángel Flores (Mexico)
  • Carlos María Galli (Argentina)
  • José Ignacio González Faus SJ (Spain)
  • Roberto Goizueta (USA)
  • Gustavo Gutiérrez OP (Peru)
  • Michael Lee (USA)
  • Rafael Luciani (Venezuela)
  • María Clara Lucchetti (Brazil)
  • Carmen Márquez Beunsa (Spain)
  • Cesare Del Mastro (Peru)
  • Carlos Mendoza OP (Mexico)
  • Patricio Merino (Chile)
  • Humberto Ortiz (Peru)
  • Hosffman Ospino (USA)
  • Félix Palazzi (Venezuela)
  • Nancy Pineda-Madrid (USA)
  • Luis Guillermo Sarasa SJ (Colombia)
  • Juan Carlos Scannone SJ (Argentina)
  • Carlos Schickendantz (Argentina)
  • María del Pilar Silveira (Uruguay)
  • Ahída Pilarski (Peru)
  • Gilles Routhier (Canada)
  • Jon Sobrino SJ (El Salvador)
  • Roberto Tomichá OFM Conv (Bolivia)
  • Pedro Trigo SJ (Venezuela)
  • Gabino Uríbarri SJ (Spain)
  • Ernesto Valiente (El Salvador)
  • Gonzalo Zarazaga SJ (Argentina)
  • Olga Consuelo Velez (Colombia)
  • Raúl Zegarra (Peru)
Also invited are Venezuelan Cardinal Archbishop Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo (Mérida)and Bishop Raúl Biord Castillo (La Guaira)

PUBLIC SESSION

The conference, which is being jointly organized by theologians Rafael Luciani (Venezuela, currently teaching at BC), Juan Carlos Scannone SJ (Argentina), Carlos Galli (Argentina) and Félix Palazzi (Venezuela), will include one free public session on Wednesday, February 8 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. in Boston College's Robsham Theater. That session, titled "Towards an Ibero-American Theology", will feature the well-known liberation theologians Gustavo Gutierrez and Jon Sobrino, and "teología del pueblo" scholar Juan Carlos Scannone. "Teología del pueblo" ["Theology of the People"] is the Argentinian theology current associated with Pope Francis. The session will be moderated by Thomas Groome, a professor of theology and religious education at BC. Professors Rafael Luciani and Thomas Stegman will also offer some remarks.

PRIVATE PROGRAM

The rest of the program is private but it has been posted online in Spanish. Here are some of the presentations planned:

  • "The challenge of the poor in a globalized world 50 years after the Council" by Gustavo Gutierrez
  • "Living and dying, especially in Latin America" by Jon Sobrino
  • "Inequality and exclusion in Latin America: problem and proposals" by Humberto Ortiz, an economist
  • "Geographic and existential peripheries: Challenges for theology" by Consuelo Vélez
  • "Talking about God in times of globalization" by Luis Guillermo Sarasa
  • "Towards a theological collaboration with Pope Francis' ministry" by Juan Carlos Scannone
  • "Theology and politics in Latin America today" by Emilce Cuda
  • "Church reform in the current pontificate in the light of Vatican II" by Carlos Schickendantz
  • "The new relationship between geopolitics and ministry" by Rafael Luciani
  • "The challenge of interculturality for ministry and theology" by Agenor Brighenti
  • "Interculturality and the challenge of the migratory phenomenon in Europe" by Carmen Márquez Beunsa
  • "Interculturality and mission in Latin America" by Roberto Tomichá
  • "Theology and the New Evangelization" by Mons. Raúl Biord Castillo
  • "Present situation and challenges of Latino theology in the current global context in Pope Francis' time" by Roberto Goizueta
  • "Feminist perspective of Latin American theology" by Nancy Pineda-Madrid
  • "Toward a political theology from the Latino perspective" by Michael E. Lee
  • "The challenge of practical ecclesiology in an intercultural context" by Hosffman Ospino
Participants will also be having special sessions with students and faculty at Boston College's School of Theology and Ministry, and Mass with representatives of Hispanic social and religious movements in Boston.

Concluding this "sneak preview," we would like to say that we hope that, given the restricted nature of this gathering but the popularity of the participants and subject matter, the organizers will seriously consider making the materials available over the Internet to the rest of us after the conference, whether online videos or PDFs of major papers or both.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

I Congreso Continental de Teología Feminista: March 1-3, 2017

The Cátedra de Teología Feminista Carmen Montull Vallés is sponsoring the 1st Feminist Theology Continental Congress on March 1-3, 2017, at the Universidad Iboamericana in Mexico City. Registration for the conference is 300 pesos. The conference will be in Spanish.


The theme of this first conference is violence against women. As the conference website states: "Violence towards women's bodies has become more acute in recent times. This fact has repercussions in the dehumanization of people and social injustice in Latin America. Hence the Cátedra de Teología Feminista has proposed making a critical analysis of the genealogy of violence and promoting feminist theology as a political tool based on the values of the gospel." And it states that the objective is "identifying the genealogy of power and mechanisms of violence in the political-religious space to liberate women's bodies."

PROGRAM


March 1
  • 8:30-9:15 Registration
  • 9:15-9:30 Opening Remarks by David Fernández -- Rector of Universidad Iberoamericana, Dr. Luis Macías -- Director of the Department of Religion, and Prof. Mari Carmen Servitje, President of the Cátedra de Teología Feminista
  • 9:30-10:30 1st Lecture: "Critical genealogy of violence towards bodies" by Dr. Norma Morandini. Moderator: Ms. Conchita Flores
  • 10:30-10:45 Coffee break
  • 10:45-11:45 1st Panel: "Suffering Bodies" -- Points of intersection between voices, experiences and pains that seek another explanation of the present and possible futures. Speakers: Julia Monárrez (researcher), Maricel Mena (theologian), Lucía Lagunes (journalist). Moderator: Prof. Gerardo Cortés.
  • 11:45-12:45 Conversation 1: Trivialization of the damage inflicted on women's bodies. Coordinator: Prof. Elvia González. Speakers: Julia Estela Monárrez, Citlalin Ulloa (sociogist). Other participants to be confirmed.
  • 13:00- 15:00 Lunch
  • 15:00-16:00 2nd Lecture: "The beliefs of feminism" by Dr. Marta Lamas. Moderator: Marisa Noriega.
  • 16:00-17:00 2nd Panel: Anthropology and theology of women's bodies. Speakers: Saúl Espino (historian), Marilú Rojas (theologian), Steffan Igor Ayora (anthropologist). Moderator: Prof. María Andrea González.
  • 17:00-17:15 Break
  • 17:15-18:30 Conversation 2: Cultural, political and religious devaluation of the terms "gender" and "feminism." Coordinator: Ms. Martha González. Speakers: Ivone Gebara, Marta Lamas, Helena Varela. Presenter: Dr. Miguel Ángel Sánchez.
March 2
  • 9:15-9:30 Introduction of the Cátedra. Ms. María Laura Manrique.
  • 9:30-10:30 3rd Lecture: "Towards liberation from violence" by Dr. María Pilar Aquino. Moderator: Dr. Carlos Mendoza.
  • 10:30-10:45 Break
  • 10:45-11:45 3rd Panel: Critical genealogy of violence towards women's bodies. Speakers: Gloria Prado (Letters), Teresa Lartigue (psychoanalyst), Ivone Gebara (theologian). Moderator: Prof. Adriana Martínez.
  • 11:45-12:45 Conversation 3: Patriarchy and the economics of exclusion. Coordinator: Dr. Edwin Culp. Speakers: Alberto Athié, Norma "la Patrona", Saskia Niño de Rivera. Presenter: Dr. Karen Cordero.
  • 13:00- 15:00 Lunch
  • 15:00-16:00 4th Lecture: "Prostitution and human trafficking" by Ms. Lydia Cacho. Moderator: Prof. Lucila Servitje.
  • 16:00-17:00 4th Panel: 'Daily life is political' -- liberation as a paradigm of resistance of women in Mexico. Speakers: Lydia Cacho (journalist), Norma Morandini (journalist), Dolores González (SERAPAZ). Moderator: Prof. Gabriela Juárez.
  • 17:00-17:15 Break
  • 17:15-18:15 Conversation 4: Gender - towards non-hegemonic masculinities. Coordinator: Dr. José Legorreta Speakers: Juan Guillermo Figueroa, Ángel Méndez, Cirilo Rivera. Presenter: Ms. Ruth Casas
March 3
  • 9:15-9:30 Presentation of Cátedra's publication. Cátedra Academic Committee.
  • 9:30-10:30 5th Panel: The contribution of feminist theory and theology to critical awareness and political involvement. Speakers: Oliva Espín (psychologist), Ricardo Bucio (political scientist), Ma. Pilar Aquino (theologian). Moderator: Prof. José Guadalupe Sánchez
  • 10:30-11:00 Break
  • 11:00-12:00 5th Lecture: "The body as a political-religious space" by Dr. Ivone Gebara. Moderator: Prof. Mari Carmen Servitje.
  • 12:00- 12:30 Tribute to Dr. Ivone Gebara.
  • 12:30-13:30 Performance.
  • 13:30-14:30 Closing reception.
MORE INFORMATION

Phone: 59504000 ext. 4825
E-mail: cteologiafeminista@gmail.com

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Leonardo Boff: "Francis is one of us."

By Joachim Frank
Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger (in German)
December 25, 2016
(Spanish translation by J. Benito Fernández Álvarez / English translation by Rebel Girl)

The Brazilian Leonardo Boff, born in 1938, is the son of Italian immigrants. In 1959, he entered the Franciscan order and studied for five years in Germany. In the 1980s, Boff became the main representative of liberation theology and was in conflict with the Vatican and its supreme guardian of the faith Joseph Ratzinger because of criticizing the official church. After they imposed a prohibition from publishing on him twice, Boff left his order in 1992 and resigned from the priesthood.

Mr. Boff, do you like Christmas carols?

What do you think? (he sings) "Sti-hil-le Nacht, heilige Nacht..." It's sung in every family that celebrates Christmas. Here in Brazil, it's also the tradition like in Germany.

Doesn't this kind of Christmas seem antiquated and commercialized to you?

It's different from one country to the other. Of course, Christmas has become big business. But in light of the above, joy, family fellowship, and for many too the moment of faith, are still alive. And as I've spent Christmas in Germany, it's a very expressive, a marvelous celebration of the heart.

How does faith in a "God of peace" that Christmas speaks of, function in the midst of the discord we are experiencing on all sides?

Most of faith is promise. Ernst Bloch says: "The real Genesis is not at the beginning but at the end, and it begins to start when society and existence are radical." The joy of Christmas is that promise: The earth and people are not condemned forever to continue as we see them now -- with all the wars, the violence, the fundamentalism. We have been promised in faith that at the end all will be good, that despite all the errors, the wrong turns and setbacks, we are going towards a good end. The true meaning of Christmas isn't that "God became man," but that He has come to tell us that "you human beings belong to Me and when death comes, you will come home."

Does Christmas mean that God is coming to pick us up?

Yes. The Incarnation means that something in us now is divine, immortal. The Divine is within us. In Jesus, it showed with greater clarity. But it's in all men. In an evolutionary perspective, Jesus doesn't come from out of this world but he grows from it. Jesus is the manifestation of the divine in evolution, but not the only one. The divine also appears in Buddha, in Mahatma Gandhi and other great religious figures.

That doesn't sound very Catholic.

Don't say that. All Franciscan theology of the Middle Ages viewed Christ as part of creation, not just as the redeemer from guilt and sin who comes from out of the world. Incarnation is redemption, yes. But, first of all, it's a celebration, a deification of creation. And something else that's important in Christmas. God appears in the form of a child. Not as an old man with white hair and a long white beard...

So, not like you?...

Not at all. I look more like Karl Marx. As far as I'm concerned, when we end our lives and have to answer to the divine judge, then we will be facing a child. A child who doesn't condemn anyone. A child who wants to play and be with others. We must re-emphasize this aspect of faith.

Liberation theology in Latin America, of which you are one of the prominent representatives, has come back into favor with Pope Francis. A rehabilitation also for you personally after decades of fighting with Pope John Paul II and his supreme guardian of the faith, Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI?

Francis is one of us. He made liberation theology a common good of the Church. And he has expanded it. Those who talk about the poor now have to talk about the earth, because it is also being plundered and profaned. "Hearing the cry of the poor", which means hearing the cry of the animals, the forests, of the collective suffering of creation. The whole earth weeps. Thus says the Pope, referring to the title of one of my books, we must also hear the cry of the poor and the earth today. And both have to be liberated. I myself have worked previously with this expansion of liberation theology. And that is what's fundamentally new in "Laudato Si'" ...

...The Pope's 2015 "eco-encyclical". How much Leonardo Boff is there in Jorge Mario Bergoglio?

The encyclical belongs to the Pope. But many experts were consulted.

Has he read your books?

And more. I was asked for material for "Laudato Si'". I gave him my advice and sent him some of what I had written. And he has used it. Some people have told me that they thought as they read it, "That's Boff!" Incidentally, Francis told me, "Boff, please do not send the documents directly to me."

And why not?

He said, "Otherwise, the Sottosegretari (the Vatican administration staff) will take them, and I won't get them. Rather send things to the Argentine ambassador with whom I have a good relationship and the'll reach my hands safely." You have to understand that the current Vatican ambassador is an old acquaintance of the Pope from his time in Buenos Aires. They've often drunk mate together. One day before the encyclical was published, the Pope had them call me to give me his thanks for my help.

A personal meeting with the Pope is still pending?

He's seeking reconciliation with the main representatives of liberation theology, with Gustavo Gutiérrez, Jon Sobrino... with me too. I told him with respect to Benedict, Joseph Ratzinger, "But the other one is still alive!". He didn't agree. "No", he said, "il Papa sono io" -- "I am the Pope." We stayed silent. Thus one could see his courage and determination.

So why hasn't your visit taken place?

I had an invitation and had even landed in Rome. But just that day, right before the 2015 Synod on the Family, 13 cardinals -- including the German Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith -- attempted a revolt against the Pope with a private letter addressed to him and then -- wonder of wonders! -- it appeared in the newspapers. The Pope was furious and said to me, "Boff, I don't have time. I have to promote calm before the Synod. We'll see each other some other time."

But he didn't get the calm either, did he?

The Pope felt the blade of the winds against his own ranks, especially from the United States. This Cardinal Burke, Leo Burke, who now - along with Cardinal Emeritus of Cologne Meisner - has already written a letter, is the Donald Trump of the Catholic Church. (Laughter) But unlike Trump, Burke is now frozen in the Curia. Thank God. These people really believe they should correct the Pope. As if they were above the Pope. So something is unusual, if not unprecedented in church history. One can criticize the Pope, argue with him. I did it quite often. But those cardinals are accusing the Pope of publicly disseminating theological errors and even heresies...in my opinion, it's too much. This is an affront that the Pope himself can't tolerate. The Pope can't be condemned; that's Church doctrine.

Despite your enthusiasm for the Pope -- what's up with the Church reforms that many Catholics had expected from Francis but that aren't really happening so much?

As I see it, the focus of his interest now is not the Church, it's not on the actions of the Church, but the survival of humankind, the future of the earth. Both are in danger, and you have to ask yourself whether Christianity can contribute to overcoming this important crisis in humanity that is under the threat of perishing.

Francis is worrying about the environment and meanwhile, the Church is still up against a wall?

I think for him there's a hierarchy of problems. When the earth is destroyed, there are also other problems. But as far as the internal affairs of the Church, you have to wait! Just the other day, Cardinal Walter Kasper, a confidant of the Pope, said there will soon be great surprises.

What's he expecting?

Who knows? Maybe the diaconate for women. Or the possibility that married priests can be reintegrated into the ministry. That has been a formal petition to the Pope from the Brazilian bishops, especially his friend, the retired Brazilian Curia Cardinal Claudio Hummes. I've heard that the Pope wants to answer that request, for a first experimental phase in Brazil. This country which has 140 million Catholics should have at least 100,000 priests. But there are just 18,000 -- a disaster from the institutional point of view. It's not surprising that the faithful are going en masse to the evangelicals and pentecostals who are filling the personnel void. Now, if thousands of married priests were to take up their office again, it would be a first step in improving the situation -- and at the same time an impulse for the Catholic Church to solve the bondage of compulsory celibacy.

If the Pope were to decide in this sense, would you also assume priestly functions again as a former Franciscan priest?

Personally, I don't need a decision of this sort. It wouldn't change anything of what I'm doing nowadays, what I've always done -- I baptize, I bury, and when I come to a community without a priest, then I also celebrate Mass together with the people.

A very German question: Are you allowed to?

Up to now, no bishop that I know of has ever opposed it or even prohibited it. The bishops are also glad and they tell me, "The people have the right to the Eucharist. Keep on doing it calmly!" My theological teacher, who died unfortunately some days ago, Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, for example, was very open. He went so far as to ask married priests whom he saw in the church pews during the celebration to approach the altar to celebrate the Eucharist with them. He often did it and said it -- "You are still a priest and continue to be one."

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

José María Castillo: "Seeing Jesus' humanity is how we see, find, and know God"

by Jesús Bastante (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Religión Digital
December 26, 2016

"The economy doesn't fix this. Politics either." Theologian José María Castillo is referring to the multiple crises we are suffering today. Not just the lack of solidarity or democracy, but above all the deficit in mercy towards the suffering. A situation in the face of which, he points out, "there has to be another system." Specifically the one of the Gospel, whose strength he explores in his book, La humanidad de Jesús ("The humanity of Jesus", Trotta, 2016).

Today we are joined by a good friend, whom you surely know, who needs no introduction but, just in case, he is José María Castillo.

Good morning, José María.


Delighted, Good morning.

Madrid isn't Granada, but it's nice to come here once in a while.

Madrid has a singular charm and enjoys such a large, ample and important offering that it's like a very powerful magnet that attracts one.

José María Castillo is one of the best theologians in our country. We are lucky and honored that he has been a collaborator of Religión Digital for many years.

It's been at least ten years. Or maybe more.

Laying down the law and, most of all, helping us to think. And giving us subjects, which he talks about through his blogs, with his posts and also through his writings, through his books.

We've come here today to talk about one of them, La humanidad de Jesús, which he has published through Trotta. You presented it yesterday in a talk-colloquium at the ABC cultural hall, which was packed.

I would like to talk about the subject that the book is about. About Jesus' humanity. Because they've always talked about this divine Jesus, who is sublimated and makes us closer to God, and lately it seems that his more human side has been reviled. The one of the Jesus who ate, got sad, and laughed with his friends. Who passed through this world and walked with the disciples from Emmaus, with Lazarus, with his disciples. Who felt tragedy, betrayal. Who had all the good and all the bad of human beings. Even until he came to die.

Why this disappearance of the human Jesus in some cases?

As I indicated yesterday in my lecture, and it was the first thing I wanted to highlight, it's that, strangely, relations between the divine and the human have not always been easy. On the contrary they have been a motive, occasion and cause for tension, misunderstanding, difficulty, estrangement, and separation.

It's enough to think about this: the divine is translated, in public social experience, into the sacred. The human is translated, in public social experience, into the profane.

It is noteworthy that the sacred has always claimed to be above the profane. Having a more determining power than secular or civil power. Having authority, prestige, credibility, argumentation, etc., everything always above. From the moment things are put like this, tension is inevitably created.

Among other things because Jesus had all those things you've described. And he also had his human side. Of a person who was born, grew up, and lived in a family.

Of course, that's what's remarkable, because the gospels don't specifically emphasize that Jesus was a "holy or consecrated" person. We are used to celebrating the Feast of Christ, Eternal High Priest. Christ --  Jesus -- wasn't a priest. On the contrary, he came into conflict with the priests. And such a conflict, that the priests ended up killing him.

Defenders of the law and of the norm who are also here in our Church today.

Of course, because they couldn't stand him. They couldn't bear him and saw in him a menacing threat to their cause, their power, and their interests. That's why, yesterday, I stressed how the deep reason for Jesus' humanity is because it is in and through humanity that the divine is revealed to us Christians. Why? Because the divine is the transcendent. And the transcendent is not within our reach, we can't get to know it or know of it. This is possible because the divine -- the transcendent by definition -- is what is incommunicable with the immanent, with what is human. So, through what is human in Jesus, in him, we discover the divine.

I put forward yesterday, and I'll repeat them here because they seem eloquent to me, two texts from the Gospel of John. At the end of the prologue, in chapter 1, verse 18, we find: "No one has ever seen God." It's a way of saying that God is not within our reach. We can't know Him. His only son, that is, Jesus, is the one who has made Him known to us.

And even clearer and more eloquent, the text of chapter 14, after the Last Supper. In that farewell discourse, the apostle Philip suddenly interrupts Jesus and says, "Master, Lord, show us the Father. Show us God and that will be enough for us." And Jesus responds, "But Philip, you still don't know me?".

And I said last night, and I repeat, that if I had been there, I would have said, "Yes, I do know you; I'm not asking about you, but about God."

And Jesus continues, without heeding Philip, "Philip, whoever sees me is seeing God."

Therefore, Jesus is the revelation. The explicit manifestation of God. And seeing Jesus' humanity is how we see, find, and know God. This is the main argument of the book.

Someone could accuse you of denying the Trinity.

One thing has nothing to do with the other, because the Trinity thing is a later elaboration. In the New Testament it isn't clear, although it talks about the Father and the Son. But the title, Son of God (many people don't know this or don't take it into account), was an imperial title that the emperor Augustus adopted. The whole dynasty of the Antonines. They adopted the Son of God title as an imperial title. Hence, the title, applied to Jesus, doesn't mean that he was the son of God, as we understand it, of the same nature. It was an elaboration against Arius, in the 4th century, in the Council of Nicea.

In the end, in the Church, we have been laying on these types of elaboration by virtue of confrontations between different theological or thought currents. And we come to the twenty-first century, and in the end, the idea you might have of Jesus, maybe it doesn't look too much like the idea or the reality that those who knew Jesus experienced.

The one that many people have isn't -- nor can it be -- similar. Because in people, when mixing the divine and the human, the divine gains more force than the human. So, in a human image, they worship Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The most grotesque -- and I always tell this story -- is that I know of a very famous Jesuit, he died already many years ago, who was a great catechist and who was giving a class to the Jesuits themselves. He was explaining the story of Jesus walking on the sea at night, in search of the disciples, when the Gospel says they were frightened, and that Jesus told them, "Be not afraid, I am your Lord Jesus Christ."

That's nonsense -- How was he going to say of himself, "I am your Lord Jesus Christ"?

Moreover it would have frightened the disciples even more.

It was laughable. But it's that many people don't dare say the word "Jesus." There is something mysterious about this. Why the resistance? They speak of Christ, the Lord, Jesus Christ, our Lord Jesus Christ. But not Jesus.

It's a cultural issue. In fact, there are many countries where my name, Jesús, is practically never given to a child. And evidently, Jesus Christ -- I think there must be very few people or any in the world who are named that. But I think the term, in some cultures, is almost prohibited. As if it were something irreverent.

Or that distills a certain mysterious reverence. For example, I have thought a great deal about blasphemy against the Virgin, against God, against Christ, even against sacred objects -- the host, the pyx, the pallium ... all this. Against Jesus, I have never heard a blasphemy.

And to what is this due -- that those who don't believe see him as a model and to those of us who believe, he frightens us because we don't know how to define him well or can't understand him?

Jesus is a reality that impresses us, but at the same time he's so close, so human, so like us, and so much like what we need ...

Yesterday they asked me, "But what did Jesus' humanity consist of?".

Well, being a Jew, a Galilean, from a poor and humble village in those days (now it's a more important city), who one fine day left his home, left his family, and went off to hear John the Baptist. He got in the line of those who were going to be baptized -- those who John the Baptist called a brood of vipers, he received the baptism and had an inspiration there. He felt something. He experienced something that made him see many things that we neither see nor comprehend, nor can we see or comprehend them.

Then he began to work. And to what did he devote himself? He didn't put up a spirituality center or a house of formation, he didn't set up an office of spiritual direction or create a chair in Theology. None of that. It simply says that when he was aware that they had killed John the Baptist, he went to Galilee, where John had been killed, where the danger was. Where there were movements in which those who ended up being the Zealots some years later were beginning to rise up against the domination of the empire there. But he didn't start to fight against Rome, in that sense. Jesus was convinced that the truly crucial thing wasn't changing the rulers but changing the ruled.

Make us protagonists, co-participants and co-responsible.

And that we, by changing, would take responsibility for the situation we have, for why we have it, and for what we want. Let us be clear.

For example, it draws my attention that when it was announced to Jesus that Herod had beheaded John the Baptist, Jesus didn't organize a demonstration or go out with signs...

Or go to Herod's palace.

Or to the Great Square of Jerusalem, or of any other city. Nor when they announced to Jesus that Pilate had beheaded some Galileans while they were making a religious sacrifice that had to be in the temple, did Jesus tell them, "Pilate is a scoundrel," "This is exploitation," "We're oppressed, we have to rise up"...Jesus said to them, "All of you, since you haven't changed, you're going to end up the same."

Jesus paid his taxes knowing they were unjust. I know there are people with a leftist social mentality who get nervous when they hear this, they feel bad. But I have to say it, first, because it's in the Gospel. And I have opted for the Gospel for many other more private, more personal, deeper reasons that I'm not going to be explaining here. But there's something that does give me a lot to think about. And it's that you can see that the economy, as it's working, doesn't fix this world; rather, on the contrary, it's making us worse off every year. There's more distance between rich and poor. And more and more poor.

The economy doesn't fix this. Politics doesn't fix it either, because it's in the hands of the economy. And if the economy doesn't fix it, politics does it even less. There has to be another force, another mechanism, another system. And I haven't found one other than the one I read about in the Gospel.

And they'll tell me, "Well, we're fixed, now we'll all go to Church for the priest to tell us the Gospel." That's not it! The priest is the first one who needs to change and convert to the Gospel because the Gospel -- and pay attention to this -- isn't primarily a religion book. It's a life project.

Jesus' life project, and a model of values to build society and build the kingdom, here too.

Obviously. And in that is Jesus' humanity. Jesus was convinced that it was by becoming deeply human, that we would, first, fix this world and second, become more divine.

Now Christmas is coming. When I was a child they taught me a phrase that has always stayed with me because I think it's a great truth -- I don't know what you'll think -- that God became man so that we men might be a little more of God.

It's a conventional phrase that's very good. But the reality is that Jesus becomes human so that we will all be more human. Even God had to humanize himself to fix this world.

And what's that? A symptom of God's weakness or a sign of love -- recognizing that something has become bad and that He has to send His son -- or however we want to call him -- so that the whole world might truly believe?

We see that religion as such, the religious factor as such, consists of beliefs, and especially of some rituals, which is the oldest part of the religious factor, and some rules. All around the sacred.

The divine is more complicated because we mustn't forget (many people don't know this, can't imagine it or expect it), that God is a very late product in the history of the religious factor. He's among the last to appear. Such that if homo sapiens, human beings, are some 100,000 years old, there have been vestiges of rituals since the beginning. For some 90,000 years, probably, rituals have been functioning.

Without God figuring in.

The God thing is very late. He appears, I don't know, 10-, 12- or 15,000 years before Christ.

But as a feeling of something higher, not someone?

There was a higher reality that slowly became outlined. Because, of course, since God is transcendent and is not within our reach, what we do is picture that ultimate reality.

And is representing him as a single figure against polytheism an evolution?

No. Polytheism is a different way of representing God. Specialized gods -- some in illnesses, others in calamities. But they are human representations. They are all human representations.

How has Jesus come to the 21st century? How is he understood? And all this, has it been thanks to, or despite the Church?

The Church thing was an organizing system that was established after Jesus died.

And that's where the other side, Paul's, comes from.

Jesus didn't found the Church. Nor did he found the clergy, or the priests, or any of that. It's not mentioned. All that began to take shape and function starting with Paul, who is the first about whom we have data that he made this work. He was founding CHURCHES [in Spanish "IGLESIAS"]. It's remarkable that they adopted that word that came from the Greek.

Ekklesia.

The ekklesia was a political institution the Greeks invented. It was a democratic assembly to make decisions. What happens, is that such as the Greeks experienced it, it was very restricted. Because women were excluded, slaves, children, and young people too. The participants in the ekklesia were very few in the Greek political culture.

But it's remarkable that the Christians, when they started to get together, instead of taking a religious name, adopted a political name -- ekklesia.

And they were doing it constantly, because the figure of the bishop, the diocese, all those terms...

Are civil names. An episkopos was an overseer. A presbyteros was a senator. However, the New Testament doesn't use the word "priest." Ever.

The word does appear with the representatives of the temple. With the Jewish priests.

Sure, it's applied to the pagans or the Jewish priests of the temple. But to the Christians, never.

I want to clarify two things that it's important that I not leave out. It's about the humanity of Jesus. How his fundamental concern was not a "religious" concern, but a "secular" one. What he cared about and why.

First and foremost, health. Something that concerns us all. Hence the amount of stories of healings.

Everybody asks: Did Jesus perform miracles? We can't know because it's a literary genre of that time to explain that he cared about people. About those who were suffering. And when he would see a person suffering, he would remedy that if he could. Because he went to his town, to Nazareth, and the Gospel of Mark says that he couldn't perform any miracle there. And why? Well, because they didn't believe and he always attributed the healing to faith -- "Your faith has healed you."

And second, he worried about the suffering because of the lack of food and of means of living.

Which leads to coexistence in community, because almost all meals or meetings with people, have an agape. And that leads us to think later of the Eucharist itself.

On almost all occasions, Jesus appears eating or healing people who were suffering from illnesses. They are stories that are repeated constantly.

And Jesus' third concern: human relations -- "Get along well", "Know how to forgive", "Understand one another", "Bear with each other", "Accommodate one another", "Know how to please each other", "Spread happiness to the people who live with you."

This is precisely the message that is contained in the Beatitudes, in the Sermon on the Mount, which is possibly the most universal of all, and the seed of other declarations that have been made throughout history, including the Declaration of Human Rights.

Obviously, because that leads us immediately as you've said to two issues that are wholly fundamental and that today are very absent, unfortunately.

On the one hand is the problem of corruption and it's that money, the eagerness for money and the power it has, has turned us all around. It has upset the coexistence, the politics and organization of society. Nobody trusts anybody. It's a terrible thing, and then we want to solve it with charity and beneficence. Which is necessary, of course, if there are people who are hungry. But it's also true that if you ask someone "What do you live on?" and he answers, "Well, I live on charity," that's humiliation. It's humiliating to live on charity. What people want is to earn their living and their money honestly. And to have dignity.

And second, the issue of human rights. Human rights assumes equality in dignity and in rights in the first article. We have created a society proclaiming human rights and creating more inequality at all levels and in every possible arena. This is such a strong, such a determining contradiction.

I want to stress something I said last night in my lecture and that I'll repeat here: a person who is responsible for this being thus and who, therefore, is the cause of suffering, can not believe in God.

The rulers we have, who know that the decisions they're making cause suffering, can not believe in God no matter how much they go to Mass, and no matter how much they belong to respectable institutions. The religious, the bishops and priests, the laypeople...All sorts of people who through their behavior, their conduct, their silence, are responsible for the fact that there are so many people suffering, can not believe in God. They believe in the representation of God they have made because it suits them.

And because it helps them to justify their actions or their ideas.

Right. That's it.

The core of the issue is reduced to that. Also to stress one thing that Professor Reyes Mate picked up from the book: that the determinant of God is mercy. Not mercy towards sin, but towards suffering. The blissful history of sin and the importance of sin, we owe to St. Paul.

Have we sacralized sin?

Yes.

Have we made it more important than suffering?

It has been made more important than suffering. And to avoid sin and punish sinners, much suffering is caused and much violence is generated.

In that sense, I suppose the Pope would agree with you. He's getting brickbats for trying to open, even minimally, the field of mercy to families in special circumstances, so to speak. Or to women who have had to have abortions, or conflict situations. Brickbats are raining down on him from all sides, strangely from within the Church itself.

Which is exactly what happened to Jesus. The most religious, the most observant people, those most of the temple, were the ones who persecuted him the most and they didn't stop their persecution until they killed him. Well, the same thing is being repeated today, it goes on today.

With the difference that Francis -- and we're very pro-Francis here -- is still part of an institution that still accepts some issues as untouchable facts.

I'm very pro-Francis. They ask why he doesn't change more positions and why he doesn't suppress certain classes, or why he doesn't make certain decisions...

If I were in his skin, I might see that I had to do the same. Because the whole setup that is the Vatican State and everything in there is much more complex and more difficult to clean up and solve than we imagine.

We shouldn't envy him, as they say in my town.

In any way. And in that sense, I see that Francis is a man for whom the Gospel and Jesus' humanity is central, in which I think the future of the solution is. And if this approach doesn't work, it's because we're the ones who don't believe.

That we're afraid of returning to Jesus, taking away all the supposed support we have around us. Going back to Jesus has to be very complicated -- interpreting Jesus, understanding Jesus and experiencing him here. It's what you also said yesterday, that the true believers are those who try to live as Jesus would live.

Right, as he would live today. And that is what I think Francis is trying to do. He is doing what he can. Sometimes even being indiscreet, for example, in his way of expressing himself. Some have accused him of that, and sometimes they're right -- some phrases, especially, that have some validity in Latin America that they don't have here. Or a meaning that they don't have here. But I think the path goes there. And what gives me more hope, because he's of an advanced age now and his pontificate can't last very long, is that if this change that has taken place in the papacy keeps up and continues onward, the Church, in a few years, will be more different than we can imagine.

We trust in that and we trust that we will all look a little more like Jesus. To start now, when we finish the interview, we'll do the three things you said: We'll care about our health, we'll foment human relationships, and we'll eat. What do you think, José María?

(laughs....)

We'll tell you the results of this meal. "La humanidad de Jesús" by José María Castillo, published by Trotta. It's always a genuine pleasure, you know. And we're glad to see you so well, so active, and so content.

And we'll go on.

Spreading that joy. Many thanks.

Thanks to you for the good you're doing, which is huge.

We try to. May we never lack support like yours to go on doing it and carrying it forward. Thanks.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas in spite of everything

By Victor Codina (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Cristianisme i Justícia Blog
December 23, 2016

For a long time, in the bosom of the Christian people, very critical voices have risen up about Christmas -- the orgy of consumption, frantic purchase of gifts, food and drink, the chubby Santa Claus seeming to marginalize the Infant Jesus, carols being used as commercial propaganda, the Tree supplanting the manger, city lights having become marketing and a tourist attraction, there is leadership by people and institutions in charitable works at Christmastime... Christmas has become a solstice party ...

And all this as if in a bubble of well-being, on the margins of a world of violence and poverty, refugees and wars, with the heart anesthetized to the suffering of others.

True Christmas is different. What has happened is what is said of ants who, to be able to store wheat, cut off its germinal point. The West has tamed and perverted Christmas; it has ripped out its gospel nerve. All this is true and must be denounced prophetically. This bourgeois style of Christmas is the very opposite of the first Christmas. Today, Jesus is born again in Aleppo and Haiti, in the migrant and refugee camps of Lesbos and Lampedusa, in the victims of the Berlin bombing, in the new Christian martyrs of Egypt and the Middle East.

But what if, in spite of everything, the Christmas feast were to keep the mysterious light of Bethlehem on, because the darkness can never overcome the light? That families get together and often reconcile at Christmas, gifts to the little ones, especially the poor children, visits to prisons, hospitals and nursing homes, mangers in churches and families, a truce, sometimes, in the wars ... are these not a sign that, in spite of everything, the light and warmth of Christmas still linger amid the embers of so many ashes? Where does this sudden goodness that floods our hearts and sometimes our eyes these days spring from? No doubt this goodness is born from the manger of Bethlehem, the Child, the shepherds and angels who sing peace. And we also remember the old biblical prophecies that proclaim a new world, where the wolf and the lamb will graze together and a child will play with the serpent. The spirit of Christmas is never completely extinguished.

Because Christmas is not just a memory of the past but God the Father's plan for humankind -- a dream of filiation and fraternity, harmony and peace, love especially towards the least and marginalized. It is up to each and every one of us to make Christmas every day of the year so that the grain of gospel wheat does not lose its germinal power and produces true fruit. That is why, in spite of everything and in the midst of these ambiguities, Merry Christmas, the real one!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas in times of Herod

By Leonardo Boff (English translation by Rebel Girl)
LeonardoBoff.com (em português)
December 20, 2016

This year's Christmas will be different from other Christmases. It is usually the feast of family fellowship. For Christians, it is the celebration of the Divine Child who came to take on our humanity and make it better.

In the present context, however, in his place has appeared the figure of the terrible Herod the Great (73 BC- 4 BC), linked to the slaughter of the innocent. Zealous for his power, he heard that in his kingdom, Judea, a child-king was born. That's when he ordered all boys under two years old to be slaughtered (Mt 2:16). Then we hear some of the most painful words in the Bible: "A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more." (Mt 2:18)

This story of the murder of innocents continues in another way. The ultracapitalist policies imposed by the current government -- taking away rights, lowering wages, cutting basic social benefits such as health care, education, safety, pensions, and freezing for 20 years the possibilities for development -- have resulted in a perverse and slow slaughter of innocents from the large and poor majority of our country.

The legislators are not unfamiliar with the lethal consequences stemming from the decision to consider the market more important than people.

Within a few years, we will have a super-rich class (today they are 71,440, according to IPEA, therefore 0.05% of the population), a middle class frightened by the risk of losing their status and millions of poor people and pariahs who will go from poverty to destitution. This means starving children who die from undernutrition and absolutely preventable diseases, elderly people who no longer get their medicines and access to public health, doomed to die before their time. This slaughter has those responsible for it. Most of the current legislators of the so-called "death PEC ["Proposta de Emenda Constitucional" - "Proposed Constitutional Amendment"]" can not be exempt from the stain of being the current Herods of the Brazilian people.

The moneyed and privileged elites were able to return. Supported by corrupt parliamentarians, with their backs to the people and deaf to the clamor of the streets, and by a coalition of forces that involves vigilante judges, the Public Ministry, the Military Police and part of the Judiciary and the corporate, reactionary and putschist media, not without the backing of an imperial power interested in our wealth, they forged the removal of President Rousseff. The real engine of the coup is financial capital, banks and rentiers (not affected by fiscal adjustment policies).

Political scientist Jessé Souza rightly denounces, "Brazil is the scene of a dispute between two projects: the dream of a big and powerful country for the majority, and the reality of a predatory elite that wants to drain everyone's work and plunder the country's riches for the pockets of half a dozen. The money elite rules by the simple fact that it can "buy" all the other elites."(FSP [Folha de São Paulo] 4/16/2016).

The sad thing is to realize that this whole process of plunder is a consequence of the old politics of conciliation between the owners of money among themselves and with governments, which has been in existence since the time of the Colony and Independence. Lula-Dilma were not able or failed to overcome the fine art of this dominant minority who, on the pretext of governability, seeks conciliation between themselves and with the rulers, granting some benefits to the people at the price of keeping the nature of their process of wealth accumulation at very high levels untouched.

Historian José Honório Rodrigues, who has thoroughly studied class conciliation always with backs turned on the people, rightly affirms: "The national leadership, in its successive generations, has always been anti-reformist, elitist and personalistic ... The art of stealing practiced by these minorities and not by the people, is noble and ancient. The people don't rob, they are robbed ... The people are cordial, the oligarchy is cruel and pitiless...; the great success of the history of Brazil is its people and great disappointment is its leadership."(Conciliação e Reforma no Brasil ["Conciliation and Reform in Brazil"], 1965, pp. 114,119).

We are experiencing the repetition of this evil tradition, from which we will never be liberated without the strengthening of an anti-power, coming from below, capable of overthrowing this perverse clique and establishing another type of state, with another type of republican politics, where the common good is imposed over private and corporate good.

Christmas this year is a Christmas under the sign of Herod. Nonetheless, we believe that the Divine Child is the liberating Messiah and the Star is generous to show us better ways.

Leonardo Boff has written Natal: o sol da esperança, Mar de Ideias, Rio, 2007.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Latin American Prelates and Theologians Remember Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns

Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns, the retired cardinal archbishop of Sao Paulo, died this week at age 95. He was well known as a staunch defender of human rights, even facing down Brazil's military dictatorship. Here are some of the tributes that have come in (English translations as needed by Rebel Girl):

Pope Francis (in Spanish):

I receive with great sadness the news of the death of our venerated brother, Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns. I express also to the auxiliary bishops, the clergy, the religious communities and the faithful of the archdiocese of São Paulo, as well as to the family of the deceased, my condolences for the passing of this intrepid pastor who in his ecclesial ministry revealed himself to be an authentic witness of the Gospel amid his people, showing to all the path of truth in charity and in service to the community, in constant attention to the most disadvantaged.

I thank the Lord for having given the Church such a generous pastor, and raise fervent prayers that God may grant eternal joy to this good and faithful servant of His. I convey to the archdiocesan community that mourns the loss of its beloved pastor, to the Church of Brazil, which found in him a sure point of reference, and those who share in this hour of sadness that announces the resurrection, the comfort of my Apostolic Blessing.


Dom Pedro Casaldáliga (in Spanish):

Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns, a fraternal protector on the journey!

Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns, at the end of a long journey presents himself to us as a pluralistic prophet who had timely words in all sectors of society as a Franciscan bishop confronting injustice, comforting the poor, denouncing and announcing.

A prophet of our America who was able to respond to all appeals, in favor of human rights, living the Gospel in ecumenical dialogue in the various situations of life he had to take on.

The Prelature of São Félix do Araguaia owes a huge debt to Dom Paulo and he will continue to be a fraternal protector on the road.



Leonardo Boff (in Spanish):

Farewell to an endearing friend of the poor and of liberation theologians

These were the words read to the people at the Mass before the burial of Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns on Friday in the Cathedral of São Paulo.

Dear confrère, friend of the poor and my friend, teacher and promoter of my life as a theologian, Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns.

Dying is not dying. It is responding to a call from God. God has called you and you have gone contentedly to meet Him. There, I am sure, you will have met thousands of poor people, refugees, tortured and assassinated people whom you defended and protected and for whom you came to risk your own life.

I will never forget the time in Petrópolis at the beginning of the 1960s when together on weekends we would perform ministry on the margins in the barrio of Itamarati, your love for the poor on the hillsides, your affection towards the children.

I will never stop thanking you for the courage with which you stood up for liberation theology and myself in the dialogue we had with then cardinal Joseph Ratzinger immediately after the interrogation to which I was subjected in Rome. In my presence, and jointly with Cardinal Dom Aloysio Lorscheider, you stated that the theology we theologians were doing in favor of the poor and with them was good for the communities and represented an asset of the local church that ought to be supported by its pastors. That is how you justified your presence in Rome.

You always encouraged and supported me in my theological activity. Until now I have kept, like a sacrament, the note you left in my hand before I boarded the boat that took me to study in Europe.

"Dear confrère Fray Leonardo, I want you to know this: We want to give you the best because the Church in Brazil needs the best. You also know that you have been sent in the name of God. Live and study because of Him and for Him.
Nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum, in vanum laborant qui aedificant eam." -- "If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do the builders labor."

I want to be faithful for the time remaining to me to this mandate of useful work in the service of faith and the liberation of the suffering of this world, the safeguarding of life and the protection of Mother Earth.

If it is true what the poet says that "dying is closing one's eyes to see better," then now, dear Dom Paulo, you will be seeing God, whom you always served, face to face, participating in the fiesta with all the liberated and the blessed in Heaven.

With all my prayers before the Lord, and with fond memories, I ask that from there with the Father and Mother of goodness, you look upon us all and help us follow the luminous example you have left us.

Your old pupil and friend
Leonardo Boff
Petrópolis, December 15, 2016.


Frei Betto (in Portuguese)

The man who didn't know fear

January 20, 1970. Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns finally got permission to visit the Dominican brothers incarcerated in Tiradentes Prison in São Paulo. A Franciscan, the auxiliary bishop to Cardinal Agnelo Rossi was responsible for Prison Ministry. Before the director of the prison, we told the prelate about our arrests, torture, interrogations and the threats we had received.

October 21, 1970. Pope Paul VI declared that the method of torture was spreading throughout the world like an epidemic, without referring directly to Brazil. He mentioned, however, "a big country" in which "torture, that is, cruel and inhumane police means to extort confessions from prisoners" was being used. He added that such means "should be openly condemned."

October 22, 1970. On deplaning at Guarulhos, coming from Rome, Cardinal Agnelo Rossi, president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB), declared that "religious persecution doesn't exist in Brazil and, yes, there is a defamation campaign being directed from outside against the Brazilian government." According to the cardinal, when condemning torture, the pope wasn't referring to Brazil. In the afternoon of the same day, Dom Rossi was dismissed by the Vatican from the Archbishopric of São Paulo and named prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in Rome. In the same act, the pope named Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns to succeed him at the head of the Archdiocese of Sao Paulo.

October 23, 1970. In Tiradentes Prison, we received a visit from Dom Paulo. He granted us the honor of his first pastoral visit as the new archbishop. From there he left for the retreat that preceded his inauguration, on November 1, 1970.

November 21, 1970. We were woken up at six in the morning for Dom Paulo's visit. He had come to celebrate with us in Tiradentes Prison. The altar, an empty apple crate, the chalice, an American cup, the church, a narrow cell, the faithful, mostly prisoners.

January 1971. Dom Paulo denounced the arrest of Father Giulio Vicini and pastoral agent Yara Spadini. Found with protest manifestos against the death of the worker Raimundo Eduardo da Silva who had been taken to the Military Hospital available to law enforcement authorities, they were tortured in the DEOPS [Brazilian Department of Social and Political Order]. The archbishop invaded the division and was able to see the two, who showed him the marks of their abuse. Outraged, he ordered posted in all the parishes of the archdiocese a note in defense of the prisoners and denunciation of the tortures they had suffered.

May 5, 1971. At the Palace of Planalto, General Médici received Dom Paulo, who told him about cases of torture. The dictator, with his characteristic harshness, didn't back down and reiterated: "They exist and will continue because they are necessary. And let the Church not get involved, because the next step will be the arrest of bishops ..."

December 23, 1971. In the afternoon, during visiting hours, Dom Paulo went to Tiradentes Prison. He went around to every one of the cells. We gave him a big leather cross -- the Jail Commendation -- pyrographed with verses of the Gospel, excerpts of the Document of Medellín, and the names of all the assassinated revolutionaries. We engraved: "The Good Shepherd is he who lays down his life for his sheep."

May 22, 1972. Dom Paulo, our mediator in the collective hunger strike, was in the State Penitentiary, where we were mixed with the common prisoners. We were not allowed to see him. According to the director, we could only talk to the lawyers. However, we learned that the archbishop warned him that it has been historically proven that measures of prison isolation usually precede physical elimination ...

In a meeting with Judge Nelson Guimarães of the Military Court, the archbishop questioned him: "Do you know that you are responsible for the life of the prisoners?" The hearing judge nodded: "I take responsibility if they die." Dom Paulo replied: "My son, you take it two or three days. Then you don't take it any more. Your conscience begins to torment you. And what accounting will you give to yourself and to God?" The judge replied with his head bowed, "You're right."

Vladimir Herzog committed suicide. Dom Paulo decided to celebrate a solemn Mass in the Metropolitan Cathedral [of Sao Paulo] in tribute to him. Jews who supported the dictatorship tried to move the cardinal: "Why a Mass for Herzog? He was Jewish!." Dom Paulo responded, "Jesus was too."

Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns was one of the bravest men I have known. Imbued with the faith that characterized his patron and model, Francis of Assisi, he never thought of his own success. His life devoted to his neighbor, was brought to the public, with rich detail, in the work "
Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns — um homem amado e perseguido" ["Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns — a beloved and persecuted man"] by Evanize Sydow and Marilda Ferri.

If the history of Brazil's independence can not ignore Tiradentes, or the ecological movement, Chico Mendes, or the resistance to the dictatorship that governed us for 21 years, it is largely due to the unique figure of Dom Paulo. The same loving care that St. Francis devoted to the poor and to nature, Dom Paulo extended to the victims of repression.

The book
"Brasil: Nunca mais" ["Brazil: Never again"] is an irrefutable radiography of the dictatorship, thanks to the initiative of Dom Paulo and Pastor Jaime Wright, who promoted an inquest into the archives of the Military Justice. They analyzed the content of more than one million pages of political trials. Amnesty still prevents torturers from paying for their crimes. But, thanks to these two ministers, state terrorism and the suffering of thousands of victims will not be erased from the Brazilian memory.

Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns prayed with his life the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi, adapted to our times: "Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is...repression and poverty, let me bring freedom and justice."


Eduardo de la Serna (in Spanish)

A prophet walked among us!

On February 12, 1992, I was in Rome looking for material for my doctorate. On the advice of Orlando Yorio I went to live in the house that the Brazilian Episcopate had there for its priests, but that is also open to priests of other nationalities (Pio Brasilero College). There, as well as making good friends, I was able to meet many Brazilian bishops when they came to Rome for some business, meeting (or lobbying). They would stay there.

I'm pointing out February 12th because it's my birthday and on that very day Paulo Evaristo Arns was visiting and he came by my room to greet me. It's the only time in my life that I saw that "monument" of a bishop.

There he told me that when he began with the group Clamor (to the best of my knowledge the first Human Rights organization that received information about and denounced Rights violations in Argentina), he received a letter from Cardinal Primatesta, then president of the Argentine Bishops Conference. In the letter, the Argentine cardinal told him to abstain from meddling in the affairs of another particular church. Notable contrast between two cardinals! A compassionate father, firm fighter and defender of the victims, a prophet and, on the other hand, an accomplice in pain and suffering, a friend of dictators, a voice that was silent in the face of death and killers! A notable contrast! I knew other things about the Argentine cardinal too that aren't worth recalling here, in fact I don't know who mourned his passing (maybe some business accomplice, for example). Looking at history from the victims, an enormous gulf opens up between these two personalities now that each one "remains" (by their own choice) on one side. My grateful memory goes to that great Franciscan who yesterday passed into the fullness of Life; the others, though they enjoy the timorous silence of their "younger brothers," will pass into the history of shame. Simply that.

Many years later I went to a theology conference in Brazil and I wanted specifically to go into the Sao Paulo cathedral to render homage to this great man. He was already retired and in poor health. Even his sister had died in Haiti, also fighting for the lives of the poor and the victims. But I wanted to go in to see the "
cathedra" from whence the Word of God resounded for our suffering times. On the right of the great altar was the Virgin of Aparecida, the Jesuit José de Anchieta, the founding saint of Sao Paulo, and on the other side,Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, the founder of Opus Dei. Something had changed! A lot! I celebrated the fact that Dom Paulo Evaristo's illness did not allow him to see that. At the same time I was concerned when Cardinal Archbishop Odilio Pedro Scherer, from that city, "rang out" among the papabile. They were the palpable fruits of "the Church that John Paul bequeathed to us."

Dom Paulo: Thank you! and Pardon! Simply this. You will remain in the memory of the Holy Fathers of the Latin American Church; you will go on being an icon of hope.