One of my personal 'heroes', the radical Benedictine Catalan Nun, Sister Teresa Forcades, has just recently published her book Es a les nostres mans, critiquing unbridled capitalism. You can read reviews of it here at Rebel Girl's Iglesia Descalza site or at William Lindsey's On Bilgrimage.
In honor of this event, I want to return to Sister Forcades' positions on abortion and gay love, which are so far advanced from the official church's positions, one wonders how or why she has not been excommunicated. Conservative "Protect the Pope" websites consider her 'evil' and spue out all sorts of vitriol in frustration at any lack of censure from the Vatican or the present Pope. But the fact that such a dynamic, prophetic woman can still survive in the Catholic Church - and her Benedictine order - is some cause for hope.
You can read the full interview in Spanish here at Pikara On Line Magazine, or in English here at Iglesia Descalza.
Teresa Forcades: "To appear in the world, God didn't need a heterosexual couple, only a free human conscience that said yes"
How have you arrived at queer theology?
Sr Teresa Forcades OSB. By studying Judith Butler. I appreciate that queer [theology] asserts the unique character of each person, and that any gender, race, national identity tag … is a crutch that reflects your fear of personal freedom. The process of spiritualization, Christification, and deification is daring to be a manifestation of love and freedom that are God Himself, when He says “you are made in My image.” Buddhism says that personal identity is fiction and should be overcome because everything is one undifferentiated entity. This personal emptiness is only a first step for you to move on to a unity consciousness. But, with the Trinity, the unity is never beyond the difference. The Trinity says that diversity is as exalted as unity, because unity is one thing and uniformity is something quite different.
The religious analysis that understands sex as something that is intended for procreation is a utilitarian view of human love and is contrary to Christian spirituality. To surrender to the mystery of an interpersonal relationship is to surrender to growing towards being an image of God, towards incarnating what God represents on earth. Upon entering, you receive a gift, that this union could engender a child, but that’s perfectly compatible with you being able to be responsible and use contraception when you please.
The opposite of Christian morality is thinking as if there were two ways to use women’s bodies, usually based on the male perspective: the bad one — using them to give yourself pleasure, which would be lust and which is condemned by all the church fathers, and the other one — using them to give you children, and that’s good. No! It would be denigrating the integrity of the partner, of the other person.
So I think that homosexual love is perfectly understandable to the church, because it has what is essential: it’s not having children, but an open intimacy to an interpersonal relationship that includes respect for the integrity of the other. Two people who love one another, desire one another, and respect one another are giving testimony: this is the sacrament, a visible sign — like baptism — that’s saying, “This creature is accepted in this community as any other.” Trinitarian theology says that all sacraments are an embodiment of God’s love. God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are different but they are not complementary. Love is not necessity; it’s not when I need you because I’m missing something. It can’t be utilitarian love.
What do you think of the draft law on the protection of the unborn and the rights of pregnant women that was presented to the Cabinet on December 20th?
Sr Teresa Forcades OSB: My position is that of the Procès Constituent: criticism and outright rejection, because it attempts social regulation based on some imposed values. That said, now comes my personal motivation for which I take responsibility individually: I think it is a clear violation of the right to self-determination of a woman that a law requires her to be a mother. I greatly appreciate what it means to be one. I think that a woman who has become pregnant without wanting to, even through violence, can experience the pregnancy as something positive, but I’m in favor of allowing abortion as long as the fetus isn’t viable, without considering other factors.
There’s a real ethical conflict, a bio-conflict, between the right to self-determination of the mother and the right to life of the being in gestation. In a situation where the mother can not choose, her rights of self-determination deserve the utmost respect. There may be a mother to whom it makes sense to bring into the world and accompany a child with a serious malformation who we know will suffer and die shortly after birth. Forcing her to abort would be the other extreme and I’m against that. I think that creature is the image of God and I wish we had a world that would accept him or her. But it’s what I believe, and I can’t tell another woman, “I want the state to force you to do what I think is right.”