Wednesday, July 27, 2022

An Open Letter to Pope Francis by Carmiña Navia, a Spanish Theologian

 

Brother Francis,


I do not believe that this letter will ever reach your hands or be read by you, much less answered. I want to tell you that I admire you very much. You are a spiritual leader of great wisdom and strength. I believe that your intention to have a coherent life from simplicity and closeness to the common people is particularly valuable and speaks to us of a church closer to the spirit of Jesus of Nazareth. I am writing to you mainly on the occasion of your trip to Canada, a trip that you have defined as one of penance and asking forgiveness from the indigenous peoples for what they suffered at the hands of ecclesial sectors. It is a courageous trip, especially in your health conditions, and that request for forgiveness demonstrates a very special and necessary harmony with the marginalized and mistreated of history. It is not the first time that you ask for forgiveness and make gestures of reaching out to others, to those who are different, to those who travel different roads, to the dispossessed and suffering. In your attitudes I motivate my words. In truth, I confess that I do not expect too much from the church. It has deviated so much from the evangelical announcements and calls that I do not believe that a return to the paths of Jesus is possible. However, many of your gestures and your words, give me back a very weak light of hope... And now, my central motive: Don't you think that the Church, in your head or in someone else's head, should ask forgiveness to women, to women in general? There are so many reasons, throughout history, for this: The silencing to which she has been and is subjected, the absolute lack of recognition. The attempt to steal the historical memory of a power like that of Mary of Magdala. The condemnation of the female body as a path to sin. The persecution of witches and their murders. The marginalization and condemnation of such extraordinary and visionary women as the Beguines, the passing over them in silence in all the histories of the church and memories of Christianity. A biblical reading that has identified them with evil, with the "flesh" and its negative connotations, with sin. The failure to give them a proper place in the ecclesial structure and the denial of full equality of rights and opportunities in this advanced 21st century. I could go on listing situations, but this letter is not about that. I only want to appeal to your fine sensitivity in some aspects and problems, so that it may be placed in front of women believers and encourage them to live new times, new dawns, new welcomes. I trust you, Pope Francis. I know that you have tried to repair the great ecclesial error committed with women, by missing out on their contribution and richness... but so far these have been timid attempts that have not materialized at the nodal points. Several times you have made promises, you h

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