I've been writing about the Catalan Benedictine nun Teresa Forcades for some time now, since I discovered her last year via Rebel Girl's Iglesia Descalza site and Terry Weldon's Queering the Church blog. As I noted this past April, I find great hope in the fact that Catholic religious women like Forcades in Europe or the nuns on the bus in the U.S. have claimed strong public voices in the face of repressive movements in the culture at large, often backed by the Catholic hierarchy, to return women to positions of mute servitude.
And because I find such hope in the emergence of people like Teresa Forcades to important leadership roles in public debates, I've been delighted to see the flurry of media coverage that Forcades has received in just the past few days--in Matt Wells's recent BBC article, at the Occasional Links & Commentary blog site, at Larry Gross's "Larry's List" on Truthdig (recommending the previous link), etc. As Gross notes, Forcades is becoming one of Europe's leading public intellectuals--and who would have thought this might happen in a church whose top leaders have done everything possible in recent decades to silence the voices of assertive religious women and to place religious women back into an obedience-based and submission-glorifying model of religious life?
As I noted early in the papacy of Francis, one of the hopeful possibilities represented by a pope whose life and thought have been shaped by the Latin American experience is that we might see liberation theology, which John Paul II and Benedict sought to destroy, exerting new influence at the very top levels of the Catholic church. As Alessandro Speciale reports for Religion News Service recently, quite a few commentators now think this is beginning to happen, as Francis recently scheduled a Vatican meeting with Gustavo Gutiérrez, the Peruvian theologian widely regarded as the founder of liberation theology.
Developments about which the Catholic Right Is Not Pleased. To say the least . . . .
The photograph of Teresa Forcades is by Consuelo Bautista and is from this article in El País Cataluña.