Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Languages

Menu
LOGOTIPO8
Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Languages

Menu
LOGOTIPO8

From Liberation Theology to Ecofeminist Theology: A Revolution Encroached in the Church (VII)

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print

Introduction

The Instrumentum Laboris for the Synod on the Amazon presents such a radical transformation of Catholic and religious life that many must ask how they intend to achieve it. We present below a hypothesis raised by male and female theologians of ecofeminism who proposed, several years ago, formulas to “solve” this problem. Now, the transformations proposed by the Instrumentum Laboris confirm their positions.

“Reinvent Religious Life”

In order to convince Catholics to adhere to these theological and moral aberrations, ecofeminists need to begin by winning adepts within religious Orders and Congregations. Now, how can they gain the sympathies of people who have consecrated their lives to a state of perfection through vows of poverty, obedience and chastity, the opposite of what this theology advocates?

The only way to do this is to change the meaning of each of these vows. This is what we see in the pages of the magazine Con-spirando, which dedicates a special issue to the subject under the title “Religious Life: A Call to Liminality.” [1]

After verifying that both the nuclear family and the church (sic) “are losing their authority over us” and that “religious life – as we have known it – seems to be an ‘endangered species’, its editorial asks, “will there be a future alternative model of religious life that will take it out of its crisis?” The answer is none other than one must reinvent religious life: “People – and mostly nuns- writing in this issue offer reflections and clues to radically transform the ‘life of vows’ … the challenge, then, is nothing less than to reinvent religious life…”[2]

“The vow of celibacy as a vow of relationality”

livroAs an example of how one can reinvent religious life, the magazine extracts a section of the book Poverty, Celibacy and Obedience. A Radical Option for Life,[3] authored by Diarmuid O’Murchi, an Irish priest of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart who has also authored several other books on the subject of religious orders.[4]

Father O’Murchi begins by repeating the “dogmas” of ecofeminism: “The body has traditionally been opposed to the soul and the spirit. The body has been seen as earthly, materialistic, prone to sin, an obstacle to union with God. Consequently, the subjugation of the body plays an important role in the monastic systems of all great religions. This vision is a product of male/patriarchal thinking patterns. One result of it is that the female body and female sexuality became the main and greatest victims of this violent spirituality … until we began, at all levels, to adopt a ‘hermeneutics of suspicion'”.[5]

He continues to celebrate the advances that have taken place in the face of “the greatest violence [upon female bodies] the world has known in the past five thousand years.” “However, a silent revolution has been brewing in the last 20 years. People are deciding to regain the joy and pleasure of sex – and have not even considered how the dominant institutions of Church and State could respond to this. … Sexuality has been liberated not only from the exclusive domain of monogamous marriage but also from traditional heterosexual mating.”[6]

Consistent with this celebrated sexual liberalization, the priest proposes to transform the vow of chastity: “In this context, I propose to rename the vow of celibacy as the vow of ‘relationality’ … it makes a lot of spiritual sense that this vow should require a non-marital status. Whether a celibate should totally abstain from genital sexual intimacy remains an open question. In the collective unconscious of our species, there is a secret suspicion that sex is a way to reach God and the sacred.”[7]

Consequently, the “writer who listens to the signs of the times” calls for “… demolishing many of our categories defined by patriarchy: heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual. As sexual creatures, our sexuality is a continuum that can adopt various expressions throughout our life. The vow of relationality requires above all a great capacity to relate with other human beings with warmth and love.”[8]  

The radical nature of this proposal dispenses with any comments. Do not think, however, that this is an outburst of a disobedient priest published by a magazine with extreme positions. As we will see later, Testimony, the official publication of CONFERRE, suggests a similar “rethinking” of religious vows.

“The vow of poverty as a vow of mutual sustainability”

In the logic of ecofeminism, poverty should not be an ideal sought as a detachment from earthly goods to achieve eternal goods, because this eternal/earthy “duality” must not exist; everything is one, everything is immanent, earth and eternity are the same thing.

The vow of poverty must then begin by putting an end to the founding myth of patriarchy: Genesis. By virtue of this myth, man disposed of the earth as his domain and this gave rise to private property, the cause of all selfishness and divisions among men: “fill the earth and subdue it.”[9]

Cons-pirandoTherefore, poverty must be seen as a pact between man and the cosmos as a way to put an end to that myth: “Reclaiming the vow for mutual sustainability is very much about coming home to ourselves as planetary-cosmic creatures who owe everything we are and everything we have to the creation out of which we have evolved. The earth is not an object given for our sustenance, or even for our delectation and delight. No, it is the primordial womb under which  God begets everything that exists, including ourselves.”[10]

“The vow of obedience as a vow of mutual collaboration”

If we are all equal products of this “primordial womb”, logically all hierarchies and authorities are only an arbitrary imposition of patriarchal society, which placed some over others in its eagerness to divide and establish “dualities”. To put an end to this mentality, one must also transform the vow of obedience, which reminds us of hierarchy and power, into an ambiguous “form of mutual collaboration and global participation.” This is what the priest holds:

“Our tendency to be an aggressive, violent and destructive species is largely a product of the patriarchal approach … it is dualistic thinking – that human compulsion to divide everything into opposite poles. … Each of us is a relational matrix – and there is our true evolutionary and spiritual identity. The call for mutual collaboration is a call for a new form of global participation.”[11]

Comment: What one notices in this reinvention of the religious vows is that they completely lose their connection with a personal and perfect God and turn towards the immanent, the Earth, which is the only deity of this new pantheistic religion.

The magazine Con-spirando fails to say that the Spanish Bishops’ Conference issued a doctrinal Note condemning the theses of this priest in his book, Reframing Religious Life: An Expanded Vision for the Future.[12]

“Savor the taste of contradictions"

Despite these attempts to “reinvent” religious vows, the contradiction of this new doctrine with traditional Catholic religious life remains obvious. It could not be otherwise since both are the fruit of completely antagonistic visions of God, of the present life, of eternal life, etc. How then can a woman religious continue to live in a consecrated order and remain an ecofeminist?

The Brazilian nun Ivone Gebara has an answer to this question: “… a great contradiction in my own life: being feminist and more precisely ecofeminist and continuing as a member of a Roman Catholic religious congregation. How to understand these contradictions and many others that are part of our life stories?”[13]

Her response (as a nun of Our Lady with the Canonesses of St. Augustine) shows complete moral relativism: “…Fidelity is not permanence in an immutable and immobile religious tradition or in a single discourse, but in a shared life that must be continuously recreated in the light of a happiness and justice that are always in process … today, I live in my congregation in a coherently contradictory way and often in contradiction with what I think. … It seems that I am learning day by day to savor the taste of contradictions … as ingredients without which we would not be what we are.”[14]

Comment: The expression “coherently contradictory” summarizes the antithesis of traditional religious life in the Church, characterized by a coherent and persevering response to a supernatural call. She denies all that in an almost mocking way.

“I am inside because I think I can make a contribution to 'deconstruction'” [15]​

However, do not think that these “Catholics” continue within the Church only for the pleasure of savoring contradictions.

Ecofeminist theologians feel called to a work of “deconstruction” of everything still standing in the patriarchal tradition; and for that “deconstruction” to be more effective, it must be done from within the Church.[16]

In the aforementioned book, Lluvia para florecer (Rain to Blossom) the missionary Judith Ress, interviewing the Coordinator of “Capacitar-Chile”, Doris Muñoz, asks: “Why do we stay inside the Church?” To which she responds with total impudence: “… In Latin America, we cannot ignore the fact of faith, in quotation marks, of religion. We cannot skip its symbols because that is where the most powerful brakes or resistances are. This is something that has to be deepened, and if I am inside it is because I think I can make a contribution to the ‘deconstruction’ and to the construction of other symbols and images.”[17]

Livro2Comment: Facing these calls to “demolish” religious life, to “deconstruct” the Catholic Church from within, how can we not recall the serious warning Paul VI made 42 years ago about the “mysterious process of self-demolition” the Church is undergoing?[18]

Yet the even more crucial question (how painful it is to say it) is how this “mysterious process of self-demolition” could continue to extremes such as the ones above without encountering any obstacles to stop it.

We cannot fail to see behind these facts the existence of important complicities within the Church that have allowed her to continue on this “self-demolition” path despite repeated warnings.

 

Excerpts from the book, Desde la Teología de la Liberación a la Teología ecofeminista. Una revolución enquistada en la Iglesia. Download in Spanish here.

  • [1] The first article in this issue is by Joan Chittister, former president of the North American Conference of Religious Superiors for many years. It reads: “…The women religious, confronted with the social implications of a pluralistic culture and with the great questions of identity posed by feminism, religious life and the Church, began to see they were no longer necessary as labor in the Church. They needed to be what they were born to be: a spiritual voice, a countercultural sign, a prophetic presence in the culture …
  • … Without a commitment to feminism, the Church cannot be worthy of credit at this time. Public consecration, which was once a prophetic position in itself, is no longer enough. Religious orders must show this commitment to the development of women in a real way: through egalitarian structures, an inclusive liturgy, an independent lifestyle and ministries that serve not only the oppressed but oppose oppression” Cf. Con-spirando, no. 31, March, 2000, pp. 2-7.
  • [2] Cf. Con-spirando, no. 31, March 2000, pp. 8-13.
  • [3] Poverty, Celibacy, and Obedience. A Radical Option for Life, Diarmuid O’Murchu, M.S.C. The Crossroad Publishing Company, New York, 1999. Father Diarmuid O’Murchu, M.S.C., is a member of the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, author and internationally recognized preacher. Recently, he has participated in some formation days sponsored by the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas and the Institute of Consecrated Life in Asia. The author “lives and works in London with the homeless.” For more information, http://josemanyanet.blogspot.com/2010/08/pobreza-castidad-y-obediencia-una.html
  • [4] “Diarmuid O’Murchú defines himself as a writer who listens to the signs of the times. He does not want to be seen as a theologian, nor a philosopher, nor does he emit dogmatic truths.” Cf. http://maranatha-biblos.blogspot.com/2007/08/teologia-cuntica-diarmuid-omurchu.html
  • [5] Cf. Con-spirando, n° 31, March 2000, p. 11.
  • [6] Cf. Op. cit. pp. 11-12.
  • [7] Cf. Op. cit. p. 12 y 13, emphasis added.
  • [8] Cf. Op. cit. p.13, emphasis added.
  • [9] “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Cf. Genesis 1:28).
  • [10] Cf. Con-spirando, n° 31, March 2000, p.13, emphasis added.
  • [11] Cf. Ibid.
  • [12] Official Bulletin #74 of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference (June 30, 2005, 49-55), taken up by the Vatican which published it in the Osservatore Romano (weekly edition in the Spanish language, March 17, 2006, pp. 9-10).
  • Cf. http://blogs.periodistadigital.com/xpikaza.php/2009/06/06/ique-pensais-de-diarmond-o-murchu-y-de-s
  • [13] Cf. Ib. Con-spirando, n° 31, pp. 28-32.
  • [14] Cf. Ib., emphasis added.
  • [15] The term “deconstruction” was coined by the French philosopher Jean Derrida (1930-2004). Answering a question on ‘deconstruction’, Derrida said: “A discourse is all the more deconstructive the less it refers to deconstruction as a general method. Deconstruction is not a method, it is not a system of rules or procedures. There are limited rules, recurrences if you will, but there is no general methodology of deconstruction. To the greatest extent possible, the deconstructive game should be idiomatic, singular; it must fit a situation, a text, a corpus, etc., and the same thing happens in the case of “feminist” texts (in quotes). The relationship between these texts and deconstruction is of this nature. It is not about applying deconstruction to feminism. What we said a moment ago, at the beginning, of the deconstruction of phallogocentrism shows that this is not a particular case on which to apply deconstruction. In a way, any criticism of phallogocentrism is deconstructive and feminist, all deconstruction involves a feminist element” (Cf. “Entrevista con Jacques Derrida, de Cristina de Peretti,” Política y Sociedad 3 (1989). Madrid (pp. 101-106). Also published in Debate feminista 2 (Mexico, September 1990. Digital edition of Derrida in Spanish).
  • [16] “Like other liberation theologies, FT (Feminist Theology) has its critical, deconstructive aspect in relation to tradition and its constructive aspect that aims to create a more inclusive and non-sexist theological discourse and practice. The first (deconstructive) covers practically every aspect of the history of Christian theology, and concomitantly, much of Western philosophy. Revealing sexism and androcentrism in Christian theology has been one of the first and most important objectives of FT since its inception” (Cf. op. cit. p.105, Elina Vuola, Ediciones Abya-Yala (Quito) IEPALA (Madrid) 2001).
  • [17] Cf. Lluvia para florecer, p. 238, emphasis added.
  • [18] “The Church finds herself in an hour of anxiety, a disturbed period of self-criticism, or what would even better be called self-destruction. It is an interior upheaval, acute and complicated, which nobody expected after the Council….The Church is attacked by those who are part of it” (Paul VI, Address to the Lombard Seminary of Rome on December 7, 1968, in Insegnamenti, vol. VI (1968), pp. 1188-1189), emphasis added.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enter Captcha Here : *

Reload Image