The Table

forcades-siamotuttidiversi-coverAt la Casa Internazionale delle Donne in Rome, Benedictine sister, Teresa Forcades spoke with Italian feminist theologian Marinella Perroni about a new interview-book, Siamo Tutti Diversi! Per una teologia queer (We are all different! For a queer theology), featuring Forcades. 

For those keeping close notes, these two powerhouses are a convergence of WOC’s recent programming: Teresa Forcades, a keynote speaker at WOW 2015 and Dr. Marinella Perroni, a panelist at our Jubilee for Women Priests. The October 3rd event took place in the same space as the Jubilee for Women Priests (although about 30 minutes late and with a cat and dog also present!).

Teresa entered the room like a complete rock-star, with flashing cameras following her to the front of the room. She spoke for nearly an hour in Italian, only deferring to Spanish a few times when answering very personal questions from the audience.

The heart of this new theology book, as she described, is understanding “queer” as a liberating identity that one continually creates, outside of categories and socially prescribed roles. Teresa described many of our saints and the historical importance and mobility of their queerness, their rejection of norms: Joan of Arc, Francis of Assisi, for example.

“Theology has always been queer,” insofar as it is a personal re-centering, interpreting agency of identity to the subject (the person) rather than the projected label.  Queer identities and embodiment are continually renewing, continually dependent on a relationship with God. The sacramentality is in every day.

In a separate interview with “Female Wor{l}d,” Marinella Perroni described queer theology as “an application of the criteria of liberation theology, a liberation understood as a promise from God and as a practice of freedom before God, for all individual human subjects understood and respected based on their most profound particular traits, those related to sexual development.” 

Sr. Teresa Forcades and WOC co-director, Kate McElwee

Sr. Teresa Forcades and WOC co-director, Kate McElwee

The audience, however, focused their questions on Sr. Teresa’s journey to the Benedictine monastery and her relationship with the hierarchal Church. Raised under the Spanish dictatorship of Francisco Franco, her family considered the Catholic Church “a place of Franco,” and a place of the past that will die. Perhaps a similar comparisons to how many communities look to the Church today — imperialistic and aging.

However, not unlike many Catholic feminists, Teresa found excitement and joy in her experience of Catholicism through studying theology, particularly with Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, and through encounters with prophetic and pastoral sisters. When discerning her religious life, Teresa described conversations with nuns, questioning how they would respond to communities with AIDS and LGBT groups… and the nuns’ response was one of kindness and pastoral curiosity: “I wanted to learn to be like this, to look at people in their eyes…” 

Outspoken on the injustices of ordination, Teresa reiterated a common mantra of hers: power is linked to ordination and ordination is linked to gender, and that is misogynistic and must change. The ways women are “kept out” is unacceptable, she said. Though Teresa did not go into depth here, I would recommend revisiting the Teresa’s WOW 2015 keynote on a Trinitarian approach to “Feminist Ordination.”

The evening was truly an intense experience of the life-force of Teresa: a brilliant theologian weaving body, feminism, sexuality, autonomy, and liberation into a revolution called queer. Not another label, but an invitation to radically recreate one’s self in every moment as a projection of God.

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Teresa Forcades, the revolutionary Catalan feminist theologian, says: “We are all different!”