Liberation Theology - Esquivel - Stations of the Cross
Stations of the Cross from Latin America 1492 - 1992 Paintings by Adolfo Prez Esquivel of Argentina, Argentinian Nobel Peace Prize Laureate This PowerPoint presentation, by Alastair McIntosh of Scotland, is a response to the question, What is liberation theology? Esquivels paintings, on slides 216, is a visual answer to that question. Esquivel produced his iconic paintings to mark the 500th anniversary of the brutal colonisation of the Americas by Europe. The commentary alongside each slide, by Mr McIntosh, is based around, but builds upon, original text from the CIDSE agencies (Coopration Internationale pour le Dveloppement et la Solidarit [International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity ]) that distributed the images. The text of the notes below each slide (shown in Normal View within PowerPoint) are original liturgical meditations by Maria Graf-Huber. 1 Station st Condemnation to death Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified. (Mark 15:15) Theme: Human Rights. Christ is led from
prison, watched by the mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires the mothers of the disappeared. Their posters read: No more repression and Where is my son? Jesus himself is also a victim of false accusations, of unfair arrest and torture. And in the 21st century, European airports have been used by America for extraordinary rendition torture flights in violation of human rights, and people jailed for years without trial in Guantanamo Bay. 2 Station nd Rejected and abandoned And carrying his own cross he went out of the city. (John 19:17) Theme: The Loneliness of Cities. Christ in the scarlet mocking coat is arrested in the city of So Paulo. The Roman soldiers
are armed not with swords, but guns. Meanwhile, most people go about their daily business, turning a blind eye to and taking no action over the tyranny being played out before them. The only witnesses are a shoe-shine boy and an elderly couple people of low social status. Liberation theology is contextual theology the stories about Jesus are contextualised in our world today, for we imprison them if we trap them in the past. 3 Station rd Crushed by the Cross He has sent me to set the downtrodden free. (Luke 4:19) Theme: War & Civil Wars: Jesus falls for the first time under the burden of the Cross. Brutal violence has weighted him
down, just like that which afflicts peasants, farm workers and the urban poor today. In the foreground we see Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, a man of peace who was assassinated at the altar when celebrating Mass on 24 March 1980. Jesus never taught just war theory; he taught nonviolence, telling Peter to put away his sword - No more of this (Luke 22:51). As such, the cross becomes the supreme symbol of nonviolence the power of love that exceeds the love of power. 4 Station th Mother and son His mother stored up all these things in her heart. (Luke 2:51) Theme: Suffering, Solidarity & Community. In one of the favelas or urban slums of
Latin America, Mary, overwhelmed with grief, meets her condemned son. The people lack such essentials for life as safe water, sanitation, nutritious food, transport and wonted work work that is meaningful. In spite of this, they survive by self-help and solidarity that builds community. Marys suffering is that of all those who are unable to do enough to save their loved ones. It is our suffering, too, when beauty is crushed around us and we are unable to do enough to save our world. 5 Station th Helped by an outsider They compelled a passer-by who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross. (Mark 15:21) Theme: Racial Prejudice. Simon of Cyrene
is portrayed as one of the millions of black people living in Latin America descendents of those who were brought there under slavery while the native Amerindians were being exterminated. This ethnic group have the lowest status in Latin America. They are often subject to victim blaming - a form of prejudice where the powerful scapegoat the powerless to justify their power. Because of this, Paulo Freire of Brazil said that the great work of the oppressed is to liberate both themselves, and their oppressors! 6 Station th Community of the oppressed If you did this to the least of my people, you did it to me. (Matthew 25:40) Theme: Indigenous Peoples. Of the 22
million Aztecs alive in 1519 when Hernn Cortez entered Mexico, only a million remained by 1600. Here, Indian women represent Saint Veronica. They have wiped the face of Jesus. His features, now imprinted on the cloth, are their features. Could they be ours too? Once, we were all indigenous peoples. Perhaps today we must rediscover this quality if we are to remake communities of place and care for the Earth whereon we tread. But we must shape identity inclusively just as Jesus was challenged to be inclusive by the Canaanite woman (Mark 7:24-30). 7 Station th The Land Question Give us this day our daily bread. (Matthew 6:11) Theme: The Landless Poor. Jesus falls for
the 2nd time under the weight of the cross. Each rope on the cross that can be seen amongst the land reform (Reforma Agraria) marchers represents a murdered Campesino Derecho a la tierra Right to the land, say their banners. Jesus taught people to pray for bread, and he rejected the temptation of landed power (Luke 4:5-8). Today, 2.25% of the people of Guatemala own 64% of the land. And rich landowners representing 0.08% of the population claim to control 80% of Scottish land. But were learning from the South with the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. 8 Station th The Outcry of the Women Many women cried and lamented for him. (Luke 23:27)
Theme: Womens Empowerment. Full of compassion the women bewail the fate of Jesus. He, however, refers them to their own fate: Do not weep for me The Biblical scene is transferred to Ayacucho, Peru, where many fathers and sons are killed and the women are left alone to provide for their families. They say: Yesterday in the Bible group we read how the people of Israel were oppressed in Egypt. Arent we in the same position? God wants to lead us to the promised land too. We should discuss this with the others! 9 Station th Cast Out and Abused Whoever welcomes such a child in my name welcomes me. (Mark 9:37) Theme: Children in Need. Jesus falls for
the 3rd time, amid homeless children and unemployed youth. In Brazil hundreds of street children were murdered by death squads every year. In Scotland, youth at Govans GalGael Trust, who started on drugs as young as 12, say: I took heroin because it took away the pain; but it also took away my soul. Alice Millers work shows how a child not loved for itself in its primal integrity - becomes destructive. Christ took children in his arms and blessed them. As a child, he himself was a refugee in Egypt, and Josephs love made him socially acceptable through fostership. 10 Station th Destruction of the Rainforests They divided his garments among them. (Matthew 27:35)
Theme: The Death of Nature. Jesus is stripped of his clothes by soldiers who gamble for them. In the same way, the Earth is stripped of her clothes - her soils, waters and forests - to fuel our great casino economy where need is dwarfed by greed. As the Roman soldiers prepare to crucify Jesus, the Brazilian environmentalist and rubber-tappers union leader, Chico Mendes, lies assassinated in the foreground (22 Dec 1988). To Jesus, the Earth was Gods footstool the sacred resting place of divine presence (Matthew 5:35). 11 Station th Nailed to the Cross You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24)
Theme: The Debt Crisis. Jesus is nailed to the cross, just as the poor are nailed by the rich through monetarism and the sin of usury (making money out of money by lending only for interest). Investors may think theyre innocently seeking the best rate of return, but so doing drives an economic system where the poor supply unearned income to the relatively rich. In this picture, the poor carry resources up the scaffold, transferring wealth from South to North. Might Christians consider learning from attempts within Islamic banking to overcome usury, as well as by promoting Fair Trade? (Ezekiel 28 & Rev. 18:11-18) 12 Station th Death on the Cross But Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed
his last. (Mark 15:37) Theme: A World Ripped Apart. The whole world is crucified by the spirit of violence. The two halves rich and poor, North and South, Heaven and Earth have been pulled asunder, yet still the Cross unites them. It is love that hangs crucified; a love that transcends even tortured death. All who take risks and put their necks on the line for justice in this world stand here in solidarity. Amongst this communion of the saints are those powerless to do anything but testify with their powerful presences the spirituality of the foot of the Cross. Such, often, is our Station. 13 Station th The Seed of Hope If a grain of wheat dies, it bears much
fruit. (John 12:24) Theme: Base Communities. Jesus is taken down from the cross. The people gather in anticipation of Easter. All around the world, small groups gather, For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20). Jesus was a man who died, but Christ is an understanding of the deathless spirit of life as love made manifest, beyond gender (Galatians 3:28). We might see this as alive in all, also in other faiths. Where institutional churches flee, ego-inflated, from such mystical insight, base communities of grassroot seekers of truth can rise above spiritual materialism and so renew Gods church. 14 Station th
Walking in the Shadow of Death Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a linen cloth and laid it in his own tomb. (Matthew 27:59) Theme: Return to the Earth. Jesus is laid to rest in a tomb, here beside a rubbish tip in a polluted industrial nation. We come from the clay of Mother Earths womb, are nourished from the fields, and in the end return to the soil ashes to ashes, dust to dust - at one with rock-building geological processes set in time when place began. I lift a stone; it is the meaning of life I clasp, said the Scots bard, Hugh MacDiarmid, in On a Raised Beach: We must reconcile ourselves to the stones/ Though slow as the stones the powers develop/ To rise from the grave to get a life worth having. 15th Station Triumph of Life
Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here but has risen. (Luke 24:5) With the ships of the Conquistadors and the factories of globalisation in the background, Christ out in nature with the sun symbolically overhead leads a march of landless Campesinos with martyrs of the struggle, including Alice Dumont (Argentina), Santa Dias da Silva (Brazil), scar Romero (El Salvador), Chico Mendes (Brazil), Ita Ford (El Salvador), Zumbi (Brazil), Dana Tingo (Dominican Republic), Luisito Torres (El Salvador), Tpac Amaru (Peru), Enrique Angel Angelelli (Argentina), Luis Espinal (Bolivia) and Vicente Mench (Guatemala). R.I.P. (See next slide for exegesis). The15th Station and Mystical Experience (Photograph of Adolfo Prez Esquivel the artist) In preparing the commentaries shown to the right of each slide, I have drawn from text published in 1992 by Misereor of Germany and also from the 1992 CIDSE handbookWay of the Cross from Latin Americathat accompanied the original 35 mm photographic slides from which this presentation was digitised. Bible passages are also as given by CIDSE. Commenting upon the Easter Picture, Lenten Veil or Hunger Cloth that comprises the15th and final Station, the CIDSE booklet had this to say: Mystical experience is of central importance in Liberation Theology. Jesus can be experienced in and with those who suffer. For those who have faith, the act of turning to the oppressed, of serving the poor, of search for freedom from
exploitative structures, is also an act of love for the suffering Christ. By the same token, the resurrection will be experienced whenever life is defended. Furthermore, all life which is oppressed and extinguished by power is included in the resurrection. This concept is expressed by Adolfo Perez Esquivel in his Easter picture. Background to this Material As a Scottish Quaker of universalist disposition and Presbyterian background, it seems a little strange to be placing onto the web devotional material that was widely distributed by the Roman Catholic church in 1992, but has since vanished from view. I have searched the web, but in vain, to locate the material for use in my teaching and activism. I therefore resorted to having my own 35 mm transparency set scanned. I first came across Esquivels Way of the Cross paintings through the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) - the official overseas relief agency of the Scottish Catholic bishops. Between the late-eighties and 1999, I was the only non-Catholic serving on their Management Committee, laterally as Chair of the Projects Committee, which then disbursed 2 million of grants annually in accordance with what radical Catholics call Our best kept secret namely, their churchs rich and challenging social teaching. At that time, liberation theology was being vibrantly supported and celebrated within Catholic agencies and especially SCIAF. This made it easy for me to participate, enthusiastically, in their work something I had actually begun in 1977, when Voluntary Service Overseas had posted me, rather surprisingly, to work for two years with Archbishop Virgil Copas and the Missionaries of Charity sisters in Gulf Province, Papua New Guinea, as a vocational school deputy-headteacher and wiring up micro hydro-electric schemes. Esquivels Stations of the Cross exemplified my admiration for radical Catholic theology which I saw as
speaking to all who understand God as love. The images were distributed in Europe by CIDSE the umbrella organisation of such Catholic relief agencies as Misereor, CAFOD, Trcaire and SCIAF. I am puzzled as to why Esquivels iconic paintings seem now to have fallen into oblivion. Id have thought that one of the big Catholic agencies might have put them on the web, the better to teach what liberation theology means. But this has not happened, so here they are - and I would welcome any opportunity that might arise to thank and ask the formal blessing of Adolfo Prez Esquivel. Christmas 2005 (23 Dec) Alastair McIntosh, Scotland ( www.AlastairMcIntosh.com )
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