Activist nun says change comes from the bottom up

Sr Teresa Forcades

The image that surfaces when Sr Teresa Forcades speaks is evocative of spiraling energy, bubbling in spirit, and of being on the ground with the needs of the people of God, reports NCR Online.

St Teresa - a Benedictine nun, activist, feminist theologian and physician from Catalonia in Spain - shares a kindred vision with Pope Francis of empowering the poor through nonviolence. Both understand the relationship between capitalism and poverty. 

Francis has denounced the 'idolatry of money' and implored world leaders to assure all people 'dignified work, education and healthcare.' In a way, Sr Teresa takes it further by advocating that the State must be challenged from the bottom up. The people must be the agents of change.

'When I talk about Church, we talk about how the Gospel inspired us. There are many kinds of Church, and I identify with the people at the bottom, at the base. Many people have a hope that the Catholic Church might change because of the Pope, but if you look at history, change comes from bottom up, not from top down,' Forcades said to a room overflowing with 'local radical activists' invited to her talk in a Baltimore bookstore coffee house.

Her friend, Vicente Navarro, professor of public policy at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona and at Johns Hopkins University, introduced her. 'There are many parts to Teresa,' he said.

Born in Barcelona in 1966, Sr Teresa's  parents sent her to a Catholic school. 'I was baptised, but I was not a religious person. I read the Gospels when I was 15 and I was impressed,' she said.

Her vision, she said, has also been shaped by liberation theologians Leonardo Boff and Gustavo Gutierrez, as well as mystics Simone Weil and 13th-century Gertrude the Great of Helfta, who, it is said, served in roles reserved for male priests.

Sr Teresa completed a residency in internal medicine from the University of Buffalo School of Medicine in 1995 and received a Master of Divinity from Harvard. In 1997, Forcades entered the Benedictines at their mountain monastery in Montserrat, Spain, after witnessing their support of gay Catholics. Forcades later earned doctorates in public health and theology.

FULL STORY Activist nun: Change in the church comes from the bottom up (NCR Online)

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