Monday, April 22, 2013

Teresa Forcades's Challenge to Austerity Regimes Receives Notice

And speaking of smart Catholic women saying smart things that old boys' clubs both inside and outside the Catholic church would be well advised to hear: I'm pleased to see that Spanish Benedictine nun Teresa Forcades, whose commentary I've featured here a number of times (click her name on the tag below) is now receiving wide notice at news-analysis sites online. Last Friday, Common Dreams focused on her collaboration with Arcadi Oliveres to launch a political manifesto challenging the austerity model that has come to be seen as sacrosanct by many European and American politicians.

The manifesto (which is focused primarily but not exclusively on Catalonia and is written in Catalan) offers the following checklist to counter the agenda of the austerity-driven regimes of various governments:*

∙Expropriation of private banks, public banks and defense of ethics curb financial speculation, fair taxation, audit and debt default debt illegitimate. 
∙Decent wages and pensions, not layoffs, reduced working hours and sharing of all work, including housework and unpaid care. 
∙ Participatory democracy, electoral reform, control of elected officials, eliminating the privileges of politicians and determined fight against corruption. 
∙Decent housing for all, and foreclosures moratorium retroactive payment in kind. 
∙ No to privatization, reversal of all cuts and strengthening the public sector under social control. 
∙Right to the body and not violence. 
∙ Conversion ecological economics, expropriation and socialization of energy companies and food sovereignty. 
∙ Citizenship rights for all, not xenophobia and repeal of immigration law. 
∙ Public media under democratic control, network software and free trading system and culture. 
∙ International solidarity, not war, and without an army Catalonia and outside NATO.

And here's what strikes me as I read this manifesto: this or that point is certainly debatable, and I suspect that the entire goal of Teresa Forcades and Arcadi Oliveres is to elicit debate (and concerted action) with the manifesto. But even when one recognizes that this document will probably be quickly dismissed by many political and economic "experts," isn't it amazing that at this point in history, we see a Catholic religious woman daring to dream so large, and to speak truth to powerful men (and women, in the case of people like Angela Merkel) in this public way? 

For a long time now, the goal of repressive movements in Europe and America, with whom the Catholic hierarchy have willingly collaborated, has been to reduce women to silence, and to place Catholic religious women in a position of humble, mute servitude. It's astonishing--and, to my mind, very promising--to see religious women claiming the kind of public voice for Catholic values Teresa Forcades is now claiming in Spain, and which American Catholic religious women claimed through their nuns-on-the-bus activism in the last elections.

Drives the old boys crazy. And for that, some of us are indeed thankful.

*I think that the translation is not quite fine-tuned, but since I don't read Catalan, I can't comment on its specifics.

The photo of Teresa Forcades is (I think) from the VideoEvo website.

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