“Divinities, Rites and Cults” of Ecofeminist Theology
The Instrumentum Laboris for the Synod on the Amazon refers in different places to the concept of divinity that indigenous peoples possess and to the rites they employ to worship that divinity and its connections with the earth.
We thus find it useful to transcribe below another chapter from the book, From Liberation Theology to Ecofeminist Theology, which reports on how much such rites and various forms of understanding ‘divinity’ were already latent in several ecclesial groups.
The Ambiguity of the Word "God"
One of the aspects that draws attention is that feminist theologians often refer to God, giving the impression they still believe in the same one true God taught by Catholic doctrine. Nothing is more distant from reality.
Sister Ivone Gebara herself takes up the task of specifying what they understand by “God”: “Despite its ambiguity, the word God is still valid for the simple fact that its content today is marked by imprecision. … Here, this inaccuracy is a blessing and freedom. To say God does not mean to absolutize any path … To say God is to say yes or no, negative or positive, life and death as faces of the same countenance. To say God is to say the All with limits and the All without limits, the All from human figurations and outside them. … To say God is to affirm the possibility of open roads, to bet on the unpredictable…”
Comment: The feminist religious sees the very concept of “God” as the All and the Nothing at the same time. It does not express the perfect spiritual nature of the One who Is but of an imprecision that is a blessing and freedom. In other words, the word is emptied of its content just as long as it serves to expand this atheistic doctrine within religious congregations.
“The ethical limits”
Despite the fact that ecofeminist theologians continue to speak of “Catholic tradition,” the doctrines they preach can only revolutionize all moral foundations of Catholic teachings and their consequences. If the original sin is a “patriarchal myth,” the morals derived of this myth logically is an arbitrary imposition.
Here is what the theologian Ivone Gebara teaches: “In a patriarchal society, the limits of behavior are established by the authorities, generally male. … They are the ones that define masculine and feminine roles and the rules of social coexistence. … The moment of criticism of patriarchal structures is also the moment of criticism of the forms of ethical limits that were established … Our churches, our sacred texts, our institutions seem insufficient in the face of the challenges of today’s history. Their criteria and limits do not satisfy us as before.”
“Eroticism and Spirituality”
Photo on the cover of Con-spirando magazine, with a special issue devoted to linking eroticism, spirituality and perversion.
The Con-spirando magazine devotes a special issue to the topic “Eroticism and Spirituality” to show that it is necessary to put an end to “dualisms” also in this matter.
Its editorial says that “Deconstructing and rebuilding becomes once again a task. When wondering about the relationships between spirituality and eroticism, some women return to their experience of childbirth, in they experienced at the same time pleasure, smell, and fullness, and discovered the absurd and oppressive mandate ‘you will give birth with pain’ … these are experiences and places that seem to open the possibility of renaming and reimagining our eroticism, our spirituality and our pleasure and the sacred, the denial of bodies and the insistence on a compulsive heterosexuality … discovering the presence of spirituality and eroticism in the different areas of life -naming genitality, … awakening memories of violence, life and pleasure, requires another process of reviewing beliefs and symbols, of disarming myths.
Comment: Cons-pirando, a missionary magazine dedicated to women religious, teaches that “the task” is to “deconstruct” patriarchal Catholic morality and “reconstruct” new symbols and rites. Later we will dwell on these concepts. For now, let us see what these rites consist of.
The ecofeminist theologian Doris Muñoz , who, as we saw, participated in the Dibam conference, “works and participates in the Diego de Medellín Center and is coordinator of Capacitar-Chile,” recounts one of those rites, and declares she had difficulty practicing it. “I confess that I have delayed this process for many years, it has cost me rupture and many tears … but I still recognize another milestone: a rite. That day was the beginning of the Encounter of Spirituality that we conducted with the companions of Conspirando Capacitar Chile in San Alfonso. I remember I had to order some phrases to motivate the women to the closing rite, knowing that it would be a very different invitation … Certainly, the fundamental invitation was for me: I had to feel from the bottom what I was going to say to be able to communicate it …” The “theologian” then makes a description of a healing ‘rite’ which mixes nudity and promiscuity, and which we avoid transcribing because of its baseness, but which she does hot shrink from reporting in all detail (nor does the magazine from printing it) to all her readers. This shows that the “rite” in question is widely practiced and known by her followers.
Comment: This description of the rite of the “Spirituality Encounter” is too explicit to comment on. We must bear in mind that this rite was directed by women theologians and religious who call themselves “Catholic”, at a center of spirituality of a religious congregation, in which the women who participated probably still live in convents, attend Mass, and receive to the Eucharist.
In order to gauge the moral abyss that separates this theologian from her beginnings in religious life, it is worth noting that she herself declares that, as a child, she observed the Month of Mary, and “without anyone asking me, I began to cover my body every time I was in liturgical celebrations, which was frequent since I also sang in the chapel choir.” The clarity with which she explains her journey from modesty to the impudence in the described ritual is surprising.
“An Emerging Spirituality”
Ute Seibert, a Protestant theologian and gender teacher of the Confederation of Religious Conferre, in her book titled Open Spaces and Paths of Feminist Theology, explains the three moments of this new “spirituality”. According to her, in the first moment, “References to traditional spirituality link religious socialization … with fear and silence, remembered as characteristics of the experience of religion in childhood.” In a second moment, and thanks to “liberation theology, the base communities and the popular reading of the Bible, new airs have arrived: now you can question the dogmas and give credit to your own experiences and questions. However, women are still silent …” Finally, thanks to the theology done by women, they reach a the new spirituality, [which is] “according to their own life.”
In it, they will explore “other spiritual traditions, indigenous cosmovisions and Afro-Brazilian traditions, which are elements of this search process. … there is a double movement: it deepens into the body and intimacy of women and extends towards their ancestors, the community of humanity and of planet earth.”
Comment: This Protestant theologian and professor of Catholic Sisters clearly describes the itinerary of this emerging spirituality. It starts out from the traditional concept of spirituality, marked by the idea of a transcendent and spiritual God. The first moment of this process, that is, “traditional spirituality” is associated with “fear and silence”.
In the second moment, that of Liberation Theology, “you can question the dogmas,” but women still remain silent.
In the third moment, women discover spirituality in their bodies and in other traditions such as indigenous and Afro-Brazilian worldviews, and the planet earth. At this stage of the process, there has been a complete break with traditional Catholic spirituality. Only its name and some external appearances will remain to allow the free circulation of ecofeminist theology among women religious and people still living in convents. In reality, however, it will be nothing but a pantheistic cult with pagan tenets.
The photo announcing the meeting on “Body, Pleasure and Bible” informs it will take place at the headquarters of the Sisters of Providence in Santiago, Chile.
Los chakras: “un puente entre erotismo y espiritualidad”
Another ecofeminist theologian, the Uruguayan Graciela Pujol, comments on passing from the traditional Catholic morality in which she was formed to that of this new religion that she adopted after her militancy in the subversive “Tupamaros” movement. To explain this step, the interviewee uses the vocabulary of Eastern religions, the “chakras” or centers of bodily energy that one must discover and enjoy.
“… I realized that in order for the Martyr that underlies us to give way to the Empress, it is necessary to learn to: … not elude pleasure, leaving behind one’s tendency to sacrifice … counteract the tendency to put first the needs and desires of others … stop considering the body as an instrument that must be disciplined … lose the fear of prosperity and abundance, enjoy unproductive times because they taught me that everything I do has to be productive … Live an enjoyable spirituality … because I was formed in a sterile ritualism … Perhaps one of the clues to create this bridge between eroticism and spirituality is constructed from my body.”
Comment: It would be difficult to find a clearer description of what it means to renounce the traditional morality of the Church and accept the new, sacred-erotic ethic. The author also makes clear the “deconstructions” that are necessary to shed everything that still marks the souls with the teachings of natural and Christian morality. Therefore, this process is an apostasy from the Faith with the aggravating circumstance that they remain within the Church, continue calling themselves Catholics, and keep spreading their doctrines among persons of Consecrated Life.
However, these ecofeminists do pass from theories and rites to concrete action. As we will see in the next chapter, they are in full gear promoting the “right to abortion,” one of the hottest fronts of the current controversy.
Excerpts from the book, Desde la Teología de la Liberación a la Teología ecofeminista. Una revolución enquistada en la Iglesia. Download in Spanish here.
- Ivone Gebara, 1998: 168/9.
-  “Con-spirando”, n° 53, Comité Editorial, p. 1.
-  Doris Muñoz belongs to the Con-spirando” Colective; in the 1980’s, she participated in parish works under the Columban Fathers and later in the “Center for Pastoral Education and Reflection” of the Mariknoll Fathers. She practices Tai Chi.
-  Cf. Op. cit. “Con-spirando”,n° 53, pp. 42, 43 emphasis in the original. San Alfonso is the place where the Centro de Espiritualidad de Capacitar, Tremonhue, is located, in Cajón del Maipo, 60 km from Santiago. Cf. http:// www.centrotremonhue.cl/.
-  Cf. Ponencia, “El Silencio de la ‘otras’ frente a María”, Dibam, noviembre, 2009.
-  Cf. “Espacios abiertos caminos de la teología feminista”, Ute Seibert, “Colección nuevos espacios, Con-spirando”. Editorial Forja, Agosto 2010, pp. 129-130.
-  Graciela Pujol is Uruguayan. She coordinates the Calidoscopio Group, a space of theological reflection and ecofeminist ethics in Montevideo. She is among the interviewees of Judith Ress in her book, Lluvia para florecer.
-  According to the author, the chakras have opposite feminine archetypes, one positive and the other negative. In the second chakras, the positive archetype is “the empress;” “she knows well her desires and does not deprive herself when it comes to satisfying them.” The negative archetype is “the Martyr,” which “took me back to my childhood and formation in a Catholic school” (Cf. “Chakras y arquetipos: un puente entre erotismo y espiritualidad”. Cf. “Con-spirando” n° 53, pp 24 a 28).