INTRODUCTION by Hugo Castelli Eyre
The annual Theology Congresses, held in Madrid, in the 2nd week of September, mark the start of year’s activities in the Spanish Grassroots Christian Movement in the same way as the Church’s year starts in Advent. These Congresses are an expression of Liberation Theology as explained in Benjamín Forcano’s article Liberation Theology in Europe – Spain, available on this website.
Consequently, they are an expression of secular theology for religious and lay people and are not subject to the Spanish hierarchy of the Catholic Church. In fact, the reason why each year the Congress is held in the auditorium of the Trades Union Comisiones Obreras (Workers Committees), which graciously charges no rental for the event, is because the Spanish Bishops Conference forbade any religious organization in Madrid to offer their lecture theatres to the Congress and when sometimes a religious order agreed to hold the Congress, the incumbent Cardinal or Archbishop of Madrid contacted the Vatican to force the religious order through their general manager to cancel their acceptance of the Congress on pain of…
Fortunately, with the advent of Pope Francis and the appointment of Cardinal Osoro to Madrid. the spirit of animosity towards the Theology Congress is no longer apparent. However, since both Comisiones Obreras and the Theology Congress are organizations strongly committed to social justice and equal human rights for all persons, it is fitting that the Congress continues to be held at Comisiones Obreras due to the spirit of combativity for universal human rights of both organizations.
The Congress ends on the sunday after the last keynote address with a eucharist. This year the eucharist was organized by the Faith & Spirituality Group of the LGBTI Christian organization whose women and men celebrants, expressed themselves in the feminine gender, draped the front of the altar with the rainbow flag and placed different coloured candles to express their sexual diversity. Two photographs, courtesy of Religión Digital, show the scene.
The Message of the Annual Congress is then read as part of the Thanksgiving at the end of the eucharist.
MESSAGE OF THE 38th THEOLOGY CONGRESS
From 7th to 9th September 2018 we have been meeting in the 38th Theology Congress to share experiences and reflect about “Mysticism & Liberation”.
1. We started by asking ourselves if, in the face of grave situations of structural injustice, increasing inequality, ill-treatment of Mother Earth, of indigenous peoples, of women, and following the dramatic pictures of migrants and refugees who die by drowning in the attempt to reach our coasts, we can continue to talk about mysticism. The answer can only be affirmative if we place ourselves beside the victims, make a radical option in favour of the poor and the oppressed peoples and participate in their liberation.
2. We have asked ourselves if mysticism belongs to reality or if it is a pathological state and we answer that it is the doorway to the mystery of the discovery of God in the faces of others, perceptive knowledge, the way to go out of oneself and the access to a new state of consciousness to achieve a different vision that transforms reality.
3. We have discovered that mystical persons are in no way passive. They behave with a great liberty of spirit, they are profoundly critical with the religious and political institutions and they possess a great capacity to uninstall the system. Examples: Jesus of Nazareth, Paul of Tharsis, Francis of Assisi, Master Eckhart, Hildegard of Bingen, Margarita Porete, Thomas Müntzer, Teresa of Ávila, John of the Cross, Rumi, ibn Arabi, Luther King, Simone Weil. At the same time, we have been warned about the danger of illuminated persons who call themselves mystics.
4. We have asked ourselves about the relationship between mysticism and politics: Can they go together? Do they take parallel paths? Are they opposed? Has mysticism influenced politics? The answer to the last question has been affirmative. Mystical persons travel light, harmoniously combine reason and emotion, they can contribute to create a liberated citizenship with capacity for interiorization, they offer new models of coexistence, they work to eliminate poverty and eradicate inequalities.
5. We have observed that the relationship between mysticism and politics is not arbitrary, nor opportunistic, but inherent. Furthermore, we have become conscious of the need and urgency to adopt a mysticism of open eyes, a caring heart and a politically effective love, of a mysticism that awakens us to hear the cry of the Earth, the heartbreaking clamour of millions of people hungry for human rights, and to fight for Another Possible World.
6. Mysticism is inseparable from working for justice. One of the names that the Hebrew Bible gives to God is “our Justice”. Justice is not, therefore, only a political or legal question; it is also a theological one.
7. We have discovered the contribution of contemplative silence, both personal and community-wise, in the struggle for justice. A silence that empowers the cries against injustices and especially against pederasty, in view of the situation in extremis that we are living both at the level of global politics and as the Catholic Church. Silence is not opposed to action or words, but a source of power, perspicacity and perspective; it helps the Spirit, and not the Ego, to guide our lives. It does not isolate us from the struggles of the world, but it embraces them at the deepest level and it is an essential component to build a world of greater justice.
8. Christianity is a mystical religion not only an individual spiritual experience, but as a communitarian political experience, that has its foundation in the authority of the victims and its strength in compassion; it does not evade reality, but it brings us to rebel against innocent and unjust pain.
9. Mysticism constitutes one of the most important experiences to overcome religious fundamentalisms, that are characterized by the fanatism and intolerance towards those who do not think or believe the same as us and frequently result in terrorism, justified in the name of God.
9. Mysticism is not uniform; it is characterized by a wide pluralism, which radiates its wealth. Three have been the models that we have analyzed in this Congress with their affinities and peculiarities; the “oriental”, the christian and the sufi.
10. We commit ourselves to live a mysticism in a feminine perspective, integrating the religious and secular experiences that respond to the challenges of our time, working for justice and contributing to build a fraternal-sisterly society and an eco-human community without exclusions of gender, ethnicity, religious belief or unbelief, social class, religious origin or sexually affective identity.
11. We affirm, with Raimon Panikkar, that it is possible to live harmoniously a plurality of mysteriously unified mysticisms: With Leonardo Boff, so that christians should be “mystics in liberation”; with Jon Sobrino, because without activity, the spirit remains lazy and frequently alienating; with Gustavo Gutiérrez, in that the method of theology is liberating spirituality; with Johann Baptist Metz, that a “mysticism of open eyes” is needed; with Hans Küng, that we need to achieve an interreligious mysticism; with Dorothee Sölle, that mysticism leads to resistance; with Pedro Casadáliga, that we must practice a counter-hegemonic spirituality. This is what we have committed ourselves in this Congress.
Signed, in Madrid, 9th September 2018.
Translation by Hugo Castelli Eyre