Brazilian Sociologist Praises Francis for His "New Brand of Catholicism"?
Problem is that there cant be another flavor or version of Catholicism. Vatican II cult of man or the Novus Ordo Religion is not the Catholic Religion.
Loosely translated from SOURCE
"We need a more joyful Catholicism, with the Joy of the Gospel"
Pedro Ribeiro de Oliveira: "Francisco is giving the bases the idea that another Catholicism is possible"
"After Francis will not be possible a Pope in the style of John Paul II, centralizing"
.- Pedro Ribeiro de Oliveira is one of the most authoritative in Brazilian sociology voices, especially when it is confined to the socio-religious dimension of the human being. Author of countless studies in this field, his analytical capacity of reality leads him to have a respected position in academic environments.In this interview, the Brazilian sociologist, part of the National Coordination of Faith and Politics Movement and Continental Counsel of the Basic Ecclesial Communities, an analysis of Latin American and Brazilian reality, showing how to understand the current political situation That passes the South American giant, from the concept of political spirituality. At the same time, it addresses the socio-political dimension of faith, its role in the Church today and how Pope Francis is influencing a new way of understanding Catholicism.
Vatican II and above all the Medellin Document led the Latin American Church to make choices for the poor, to be the voice of the excluded, those whom Galeano calls "the nadies." Has this dimension of committed Church in Latin America been lost?
I think we can not say that it was lost, but that group, which was never large, that was always a minority, that group committed to the forgotten had, for several historical reasons, hegemony, but lost. When I speak of hegemony I do not say that they had a majority, for it was never a majority, but they had their voice, they made themselves heard, and today their voice was muted.
There was also a decrease in the number of force, mainly a loss of hegemony due to the historical and ecclesiastical context. One can not forget the process of restoration of the identity of John Paul II and Ratzinger, to return to a Catholic identity prior to Vatican II. It was hoped that Vatican II and Medellin would serve only to give an update to the same Catholic identity as before, and that made that most innovative position, that sector of the Church, lose its ability to impact on the whole Church.
Could we say that at that time there was a political spirituality in the Latin American Church?
I think it was perhaps being born and that today that political spirituality is more elaborate than at that time. What I call political spirituality is an expression that I found in a Guatemalan theologian born in Spain, as he himself is defined, Juan Hernández Pico. He has a very good book on faith and politics and there is a chapter in which he speaks of political spirituality, a spirituality that was born here and with which we were learning to celebrate and nourish our struggles with Christianity.
Liberation Theology is the intellectual, rational justification for that position, but we were learning to celebrate, to nurture those struggles. I think that today, perhaps, we know how to celebrate the struggles better than in the classic years of Liberation Theology, the eighties, seventies.
At that time, thinking for example in the CEBs, there were beautiful celebrations, no doubt, but perhaps it was still in the scheme of faith and politics, as if faith were one thing and politics another and Both come together. Political spirituality has the advantage that politics is a practical dimension of faith.
How to bring that political spirituality for the life of the Church, of the communities, for the day to day?
That is the great challenge, because that spirituality presupposes prayer, liturgy, personal prayer, prayer in community, and therefore liturgy.
In the field of personal prayer is not very difficult. The Divine Office of Communities has much openness to this political spirituality. When praying this Divine Office, even individually, which is something I do frequently, leads us to live our political struggle as a struggle for our faith. But when celebrating in groups, even in small groups, in more advanced and mature church communities on the way, they have difficulty. Many times the celebrations become staged.
The Landless Movement (MST) uses a lot of mystical expression. When they are going to start a meeting, they first make a mystic, which is a bit of a celebration, an encouragement to encourage people, who have some spirituality, but who lack a transcendent dimension, that makes them feel that it is the Spirit of Jesus of Nazareth who is there with them.
That does not enter into a mystique of the MST, nor does it have to enter. The problem is that in groups of Christians, in meetings of faith and politics, communities, CEBI, that these celebrations should really be celebrations, become a bit of staging, in mystical type shows of the MST. And that is why we can not feed our spirituality.
That political spirituality was born next to Liberation Theology, of that there is no doubt. But as Liberation Theology developed rapidly, diversified, political spirituality is still in its infancy, for it has difficulty expressing itself in the liturgy, in celebrations.
Could the Faith and Politics movement be an instrument to help deepen this political spirituality?
It's what I want from that movement. I am in the National Coordination of the Faith and Political Movement and I have insisted very much on this, that in the midst of the difficulties in which we live today, we need a strong spirituality. The great institution of the Church does not know how to feed that spirituality, it only knows how to nourish the spirituality that leads us to eternal life.
We have to, I do not say to invent, but to develop that spirituality. Who helps us a lot is, for example, Marcelo Barros, who is a Benedictine monk and who is optimal in liturgy and a person involved in social struggles. It is someone who in practice is developing that spirituality, that way of celebrating our political struggles, our political victories and defeats. I think the Faith and Politics Movement has that vision.
Has that Faith and Politics Movement permeated the life of the Church or is it a movement that is in the background?
The Faith and Politics Movement, given its ecumenical character, always preferred to exist within ecclesiastical boundaries. When the National Center of Faith and Politics was created, the CNBB (National Conference of the Bishops of Brazil) created the National Center of Faith and Politics, Don Helder Cámara. The name Faith and Politics shows the relationship he has with the Movement. I was in creation and people who were there are in the movement, but it is something different.
The Movement can not submit to ecclesiastical discipline. We are together and we are in communion, but we do not follow. The fact that the bishop of the place gives an orientation, that orientation is not valid for the movement, because it is ecumenical. When we are in communion is optimal, when we get to agree is fine, when we are not the movement follows its own orientation, not facing the bishop, but keeping the distance, making the meetings in the spaces of universities, unions, Local non-ecclesiastical.
As he has pointed out, the Faith and Politics movement occupies marginal places, being able to say that it is the same area in which the Base Ecclesial Communities are situated. Does occupying the same places lead to a unity of action to the Faith and Politics Movement and the CEBs?
They occupy the same places, but for different reasons. The Faith and Politics Movement for an option of movement and CEBs because they do not accept the center. But, in fact, if you participate in a meeting of Faith and Politics, it is very similar to a meeting of CEBs, including the theme, the way of exposing, the political options.
Perhaps the Faith and Politics Movement is more defined to the left, as in the CEBs, in political terms, we have greater diversity. But in the general spirit, someone from outside, in an Intercultural Encounter of CEBs and a National Encounter of Faith and Politics will not find many differences.
From the Faith and Politics Movement, how do you see the situation that Brazil is currently going through?
Movement, as such, does not take any stand. But, no doubt, if it is seen in the groups and people involved ... The last meeting in April was just in the week of the terrible vote of the Motion of Censorship in the House, which clearly reflected In the climate of the meeting. More than half of the movement's participants are PT militants, another large majority are former militants who opted for more left-wing parties.
At this moment, the movement sees as a loss for all of us the end of democratic institutionality, which is no doubt a blow, a blow that was given and we feel it as such, which is bad for everyone .
It is not an hour or a moment to criticize the PT, because it can not be done at the moment when people are sore, hurt. It can not be said at this moment that it is his fault, but we feel in the movement that we need to see our responsibilities better, even the Christians themselves within the governments of Lula and Dilma, because I think that with some ease we let ourselves be carried away by the successes New universities, very good institutes of education, higher standards of consumption ... and these successes made us, perhaps, less critical with the governments Lula and Dilma, who had enormous responsibility in the Depoliticization of the country.
Pope Francis has defended at different moments of his pontificate the need to walk alongside the social movements. Faced with this attitude it is perceived that in the Church there is no such interest. From there, could we say that within the Church, Francis is a decorative figure?
Decorative, no. Within the Church is an important figure. He is certainly putting old beliefs in check. After Francis will not be possible a Pope in the style of John Paul II, centralizer, who defines everything. Francis stopped that conviction that the Pope is infallible, he must always be respected, because he is not being respected by his own helpers. If that is valid against Francis, it would be worth against the Popes.
He is questioning that figure of the Pope that was bequeathed to us by Pius IX, of a centralizing Pope. Then it is not decorative, it is questioning the Papacy. In addition to that, I think that he is creating a feeling of joy at being Catholic in the Church, for in the other pontificates the Catholic was assumed almost sadly, when one saw those pamphlets of "I am Catholic, thank God" , I thought "I am Catholic, in spite of everything", of everything that the Catholic Church is.
Francis is giving the bases the idea that another Catholicism is possible, a more joyful Catholicism, as he himself said, with the Joy of the Gospel, a Catholicism that is breaking with certain traditions. I see it, for example, in those small things, as in the Laudato Sii, where for the first time an Encyclical does not begin in Latin, but in Italian, an archaic Italian, but in Italian. Those changes come to stay.
If Francisco's successor comes along the same line and stays for ten or fifteen years, there may be real changes. If it is not in the same line, we are going towards a Church that is disintegrating, as it is already happening, because it is less and less relevant. We regret, for example, the silence of the CNBB in the face of the coup, although if it had been pronounced against the coup, it would not have been very different, since it no longer has the ecclesial capillarity it had before, and I am not thinking only of the Brazil, but the world, lost that capillarity.
I have heard the word "exculturation" in front of inculturation. Our culture, more and more, is putting the Gospel outside. Christianity is less and less present in culture.
Can not this situation be a consequence of the lack of union with the world promoted by the clergy and by many movements?
Of course. Today we are seeing a turning back in terms of spirituality, which is a turning back to eternal life. Increasingly, the discourse of the Church is that of an Almighty God, who is in Heaven and works miracles and who calls us to live with Him eternally.
What do you notice? That there are fewer and fewer people worried about eternal life, less people worried about whether they die after heaven or hell. There are polls in which people respond that they do not go to mass, and that if that's why they go to hell, it's something they accept, saying that without any fear.
A Church that keeps insisting on eternal life, loses its capacity to influence daily life, the moral of society. And speaking of eternal life, why you still have audience, why you still have audience? I respond, using a harsh expression, which is because their rituals are magical, their rituals produce practical, useful effects in this life.
It is about reaching with the hand near where the Blessed Sacrament is because that will cure me and I will solve a problem of quitting, or the problem with my wife or my husband. Catholic rituals are, increasingly, utilitarian rituals to achieve practical purposes in this world. That is what classical sociology calls magic. We are seeing a Church doing magical rituals.