Friday, July 29, 2011

Mons. Raúl Vera López: A Bishop Stands Up for Gay Catholics

By Javier Flores (English translation and additional material by Rebel Girl)
Zócalo Saltillo
July 24, 2011

Raúl Vera López, the bishop of Saltillo, has reported receiving a "letter" from the Vatican in which he has been asked to clarify the work he has done on behalf of human dignity among vulnerable groups of society, specifically the lesbian and gay community of Saltillo.

Vera Lopez stressed that he is in the process of answering the questions the Holy See has asked him, in order to provide details about the work done by the Diocese of Saltillo with the gay community, focused on valuing the dignity of those who belong to this sector of the population.

"This arises (the call from the Vatican), because a Catholic agency that has its headquarters in Peru, ACI Prensa, has made unfounded accusations against me, that I am promoting homosexual relationships."

"And I, in my life, I have never worked for that. In the Diocese of Saltillo we have very clear objectives, we work with them (the gay community) to help them regain their human dignity that is violated starting in their home, in society, and they are treated like the plague," he said.

Although he did not elaborate on the specific content of the document, he lamented that it was a Catholic news agency that condemned the work done by the Diocese of Saltillo in favor of vulnerable groups.

"An agency that calls itself Catholic is distorting our work and charging me with being against the teachings of the Church and unfortunately they are moved by prejudice and phobia of the homosexual community.

"Of course there is a call from the Vatican and I am to clarify things ... I have to respond to the Vatican on a series of questions they are asking me about my work with homosexuals, but it's because of this Catholic news agency that started saying outrageous things," he added.

"Some would like to debilitate my work on behalf of vulnerable groups, that is what they want, but I'm going to continue in the struggle for human dignity which is the principle of the Gospel."

Without putting the cart before the horse, the bishop says that the aim of pastoral work is to value the intelligence, skills and attitudes of those who have decided (sic) to have a different sexual preference and whose dignity is violated by prejudice.

"I'm not going to stop my work because of slander, nor am I against the Magisterium of the Church, nor am I promoting dishonesty. Promoting depravity or degeneracy of people would go against my principles," he said emphatically.

"WE WANT A CATHOLIC BISHOP"

Bishop Vera has been under increasing fire for his message that the Church needs to start being more accepting towards gay people and for his support of a local Catholic GLBT organization, the Comunidad San Elredo. Catholic family groups have been urging the bishop to withdraw his support from the group that they argue "publicly promotes an openly homosexual lifestyle, gay 'marriage' and gay adoptions." "A pastoral commitment to homosexual persons is necessary and welcomed, but not at the expense of the family and a solid pastoral plan for marriage and family, which is unfortunately being neglected in the diocese," says Natalia Niño, president of Familias Mundi, one of the groups that wants the Diocese to stop supporting San Elredo.

Opposition came to a head earlier this month when anonymous individuals left four blankets tacked to the Cathedral of Saltillo bearing the message: “Queremos un obispo católico” ("We want a Catholic bishop"). Bishop Vera declined to file a police complaint about the incident but through the local media he sent a clear message to his opponents: “Yo desde que vivía en Chiapas me acostumbré a caminar en medio de situaciones en las que puede pasar cualquier cosa, pero no voy esconderme para salvar mi vida cuando sé que la vida de las ovejas está en peligro, esto no es imitar al buen pastor." ("Ever since I lived in Chiapas, I have become accustomed to walking amid situations where anything can happen, but I'm not going to hide in order to save my life when the lives of the sheep are in danger. That isn't imitating the Good Shepherd.")

And the diocese went further. Fr. Gerardo Escareño Arciniega, vicar general of the diocese, posted a letter to the faithful on the Diocesan Web site explaining that the bishop's actions have not been outside of the gospel:

In the context of the harassment against the bishop of Saltillo, Fray Raúl Vera López, because of his pastoral actions, expressed on the blankets placed on the exterior of the Cathedral Church on the 14th day of the present month, we want to state the following:

The pastoral work of the Diocesan Bishop, which covers many different areas of the life of the Church and society, is clearly within the scope of the teaching and pastoral norms of the Church.

Addressing not only Church issues, but also those of public life, a continuing source of contradictions, is not a deviation into fields outside the pastoral mission since the Second Vatican Council made it clear that "the Church,...by virtue of the Gospel committed to her, proclaims the rights of man" and "it is only right...that at all times and in all places, the Church should have true freedom to preach the faith, to teach her social doctrine, to exercise her role freely among men, and also to pass moral judgment in those matters which regard public order when the fundamental rights of a person or the salvation of souls require it." (GS 41, 76). The foundation of these responsibilities of the Church and its ministers is, of course, the supreme dignity of human beings, the only image of God, who has shown Himself to be particularly close to those living in precarious and vulnerable conditions, victims of the harm and prejudice caused by an unbalanced world.

In addition, the final message of the Synod of Bishops called "Justice in the world," in 1971, established for the pastors themselves the need to address the emerging realities with a true sense of justice: "Therefore we must be prepared to take on new functions and new duties in every sector of human activity and especially in the sector of world society, if justice is really to be put into practice. Our action is to be directed above all at those people and nations which because of various forms of oppression and because of the present character of our society are silent, indeed voiceless, victims of injustice." (I. Justice and world society). So then, the new functions that the Church and its pastors have to assume, according to the "present character of our society" characterized by many economic, cultural and political imbalances, must reach the ever more complex spaces of society in which the dignity of persons and the building of more humane, and therefore more just, societies are at stake.

The latest teaching of Latin American Bishops, contained in the Document of Aparecida, makes clear that "the mission of proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ has a universal destination. Its mandate of charity encompasses all dimensions of existence, all people, all environments of community life, and all peoples. Nothing human can be alien to it."(380). For the Church and its pastors there is, therefore, no way to avoid the commitments that have to do with human beings in their entirety; nothing that has to do with the lives of people and their right to a peaceful, free and secure life, in which they are subjects of their vocation as children of God to salvation, is foreign to pastoral work.

The constant activity of the Bishop, who heads the Diocese with its bodies, its work plans and its pastoral workers, is not marginal to the gospel, or the norms and guidelines of the Church, or the challenges of society in which we live. In fidelity to the pastoral ministry he carries out, he will not cease his activism and his voice, which seek to contribute to building communities of faith that are more alive and engaged and a more humane society, even if they expose him to aggression, so easy to perpetrate in these challenging days in which we are living in this very hectic society in which the Church finds itself.


Finally, Bishop Vera reaffirmed his support for the Comunidad San Elredo this week. He told El Heraldo de Saltillo that the organization would not disappear but that it would be restructured. The group, which had been under the leadership of a single coordinator, Fernando Hernández, would have a board to make collective decisions, which would make it less vulnerable to outside attacks that could jeopardize its pastoral work.

Fundamentalism still

Leonardo Boff's weekly columns are available in Spanish from Servicios Koinonia and in Portuguese on his blog. Some of his older columns are available in English at LeonardoBoff.com.

by Leonardo Boff (English translation by Rebel Girl)
7/29/2011

The terrorist attack in Norway perpetrated in a calculated manner by a 32 year-old Norwegian extremist has put the issue of fundamentalism on the floor again. Western governments and media have led the world public to associate fundamentalism and terrorism almost exclusively with radical elements of Islam. Barack Obama in the United States and David Cameron in the United Kingdom were quick to express solidarity with the Norwegian government and reinforced the idea of fighting terrorism to the death, assuming that it was an act of Al Qaeda. Prejudice. This time it was a native, white, blue-eyed man, with higher education and a Christian, although The New York Times presents him as "unremarkable and easy to forget."

In addition to resolutely rejecting terrorism and fundamentalism, we must try to understand the reason for this phenomenon. Sometimes I have addressed the issue in this column, which resulted in a book Fundamentalismo,Terrorismo, Religião e Paz: desafio do século XXI ("Fundamentalism, Terrorism, Religion and Peace: challenge of the century" -- Vozes 2009). There I refer to, among other things, the kind of globalization that has prevailed since the beginning, a fundamental globalization of the economy, markets and finance. Edgar Morin calls the current one, "the iron age of globalization." It was not followed, as the situation called for, by a political globalization (global governance of peoples), an ethical and educational globalization. I mean, with globalization we open a new phase in the history of the Living Planet and humanity itself. We are leaving behind the narrow limits of regional cultures with their identities and the figure of the nation-state to go deeper and deeper into the process of a collective history of mankind, with a common destiny tied to the fate of life and, in a certain way, of the Earth itself. The people were moving, communications put everyone in contact with each other and, for different reasons, multitudes began to circulate around the world.

This transition was not prepared, as a confrontation prevailed between two ways of organizing society: the state socialism of the Soviet Union and the liberal capitalism of the West. Everyone had to support one of these alternatives. When the Soviet Union was dismantled a multipolar world did not emerge but rather the dominance of the United States as the largest economic and military power in the world, which began to exert an imperial power, making all align with its global interests. More than globalization in a broad sense, there was a kind of westernization of the world. It worked like a steamroller that ran over respectable cultural traditions. This was compounded by the arrogance typical of the West of believing itself to be the bearer of the best culture, the best science, the best religion, the best way to produce and govern.

This global standardization generated strong resistance, bitterness and anger in many peoples, who saw their identity and customs being eroded. In such situations identitary forces typically arise that are allied with the conservative elements of religion, the natural guardians of tradition. From here originates the fundamentalism that is characterized by giving absolute value to its point of view. Whoever claims an absolute identity is bound to be intolerant of those who are different, to despise them, and, in the end, to eliminate them.

This phenomenon is recurrent throughout the world. In the West, significant conservative groups feel threatened in their identity by the penetration of non-European cultures, especially Islam. They reject multiculturalism and cultivate xenophobia. The Norwegian terrorist was convinced that the democratic struggle against the threat of foreigners in Europe was lost. So he took a desperate solution: making a symbolic gesture of removing the multicultural "traitors".

The response of the Norwegian government and people has been wise; they have responded with flowers and calling for more democracy, ie, more living together with others, more tolerance, more hospitality and more solidarity. This is the way that ensures humane globalization, through which it will be harder for such tragedies to happen again.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Five Argentinian priests publish new "tell all" book

La Voz (7/24/2011) with additional material from Dia a Dia (7/20/2011)
English translation by Rebel Girl


They are priests who have just published a book, Cinco Curas, Confesiones silenciadas, with accounts of homosexuality in seminaries, of love affairs with women, and their disagreement with the authorities of the Archdiocese.

Although they have all been suspended from active ministry, they are priests and will be until they die, because in the Catholic Church the sacrament of Holy Orders can not be dissolved.

Nicolás Alessio, Adrián Vitali, Elvio Alberione, Horacio Fábregas and Lucio Olmos are the priests who have dared to tell their stories in a book about their disagreements with diocesan authorities, their critical view of celibacy, homosexual activity in the seminaries, their political activism during the last military dictatorship and their ties with the latest strong man of the Church of Cordoba, Raúl Cardinal Primatesta.

In that respect, Vitali, married with two children, told of a meeting with the cardinal. "He called me into his office and asked, 'Is it true that you left a girl pregnant?'. I said 'yes', firmly. He asked me if I had gone to confession and I told him 'no' because I didn;t think it was a sin to father a child with the woman I loved. There was silence and he said I could continue pastoral ministry in another place in Argentina or abroad, but on the condition that I wouldn't see them anymore. He said the Curia would take responsibility for paying child support as required by law."

Alessio revealed details of the last conversation he had with Carlos Ñáñez, the archbishop of Cordoba, when he was reprimanded for expressing an opinion in favor of equal marriage [for same sex couples]. "'They have filed a complaint against me,' Ñáñez told me nervously in his office at the Archdiocese. He asked me to recant my statements and I flatly refused. We were with Vicar Horacio Alvarez, and they warned that I had left them no choice. I wanted to know who had initiated a complaint against them. Moreover, I told them that if the conservative right had them cornered, the whole Grupo Angelelli would come to their defense. But he didn't answer. He continued with the canonical forms, brought me the written warning and asked me to sign it." Alessio also recounts an instance when the bishop asked him not to use the word "justice" in his homilies.



Wages and militancy. Olmos said Primatesta wanted the priests to live off what they charged for baptisms, weddings and communions, "as most priests live, but I didn't want that; I wanted to work so as not to have to live off the people, that's why I was in Cechetto, because I wanted a manual occupation, in contact with the working class." He also revealed how he joined the Montoneros.

Fabregas talked about the seminary practices that "numb" the minds of future priests. "From 4 to 6.30 pm, again one had to be quiet to study, then, evening community prayer (called Vespers), followed by Mass, and finally dinner, some free time and at 11 pm Silence again. All the schedules were marked by the sound of the bell. Imagine repeating that routine 10 months a year for seven years. Every day. Almost no contact with the outside world. Such a life, at age 18, numbs your brain. They break your spirit, discipline you, make you submit, brainwash you." Fábregas also talks about a nun who corrupted the seminarians and his disillusionment that almost nobody respected the celibacy requirement.

In the book, Alberione speaks of the Church's complicity with the coup of '55. But he also says who earns wages in the Church. "In the Church in Argentina, the only ones who earn a state salary are the bishops and chaplains of public agencies."

Four of the five priests also did a TV show recently in connection with their book:

Part 1



Part 2



Part 3

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Immigration News Roundup - 7/27/2011

I haven't done one of these in a while and a lot has been happening. It's a bit daunting to begin again. I'm sure I haven't covered everything but it's a start...

1. One Million Deportations: Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, Gustavo Torres, director of CASA de Maryland, and several other activists were arrested at the White House (photos) as they protested the Obama administration's policy on deporting immigrants. In his speech prior to getting arrest, Rep. Gutierrez described the reception the president received when he had addressed National Council of La Raza earlier in the day and excoriated Obama for his failure to lead in the immigration area. Said Gutierrez: "The question is whether the President will exercise the powers he has under current law to give DREAM Act students and other immigrants relief from deportation when it is in the national interest of the United States. But he has to expend the political capital to do it, which he has been reluctant to do."

2. Immigration Law Blamed for Labor Shortage at Georgia Restaurants: Almost half of the restaurants in Georgia have a shortage of workers following the enactment of the state’s tough new immigration law (HB 87), according to a survey released this week by the Georgia Restaurant Association. The study, in which 523 eateries took part, found that 49 percent of those interviewed are having difficulties finding workers and 88 percent expressed concern about the possibility of worker shortages in the future. The survey found that on an average the restaurants polled have lost between $2,000 and $8,000 a month due to the lack of workers and at least 27 percent of those interviewed said they have noted a decline in the number of job applications. Georgia’s food service industry hires more than 375,000 employees and makes profits of close to $14 billion per year. Ninety-one percent of those polled said they oppose HB 87.


HB 87 also drew major protests on July 2nd and July 9th. The Georgia Catholic Conference came out strongly against HB 87 and The Georgia Bulletin notes that the law has caused considerable anxiety among the immigrant faithful and a drop in Mass attendance as well as participation in other Church activities.

3. Alabama Law Faces Multiple Court Challenges: Alabama's sweeping immigration reforms now face a legal challenge based on a section of the 1901 state constitution that encourages immigration. Already contested in federal court as overstepping federal authority and violating protections of the U.S. Constitution, the state's 72-page act cracking down on all aspects of illegal immigration was challenged on Friday in Montgomery Circuit Court. The latest challenge largely builds upon Section 30 of Article I of the state constitution, which reads in its entirety: "That immigration shall be encouraged; emigration shall not be prohibited, and no citizen shall be exiled." The suit, whose plaintiffs include undocumented workers from Blountsville, argues that the new law subverts the state constitution because it "has the opposite effect of 'encouraging immigration.'...Attorneys for the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Immigration Law Center and other groups already filed suit in federal court in Huntsville. They asked a judge to prevent state officials from enforcing the act before most provisions take effect on Sept. 1. Meanwhile, there is considerable concern about the impact the law will have on Alabama's economy, particularly in the agricultural sector by driving away the laborers on whom the farmers depend to bring in their crops. And, as in Georgia, the churches are mobilizing against Alabama's immigration law.



4. Fundraising for the Fence: Tired of waiting for the federal government to build a fence between itself and Mexico, Arizona has set up a Web site, Build the Border Fence, to receive donations from citizens interested in completing the project. The Web site is the brainchild of Arizona state senator Steve Smith (R-Maricopa) who has been assuring donors that their contributions are tax-deductible. To date, 2,569 people have donated $115,935 to this project. FYI: This Web site is buildTHEborderfence.com, not to be confused with buildAborderfence.com, a promotional site set up by Las Vegas cab driver Charles Chinchuck who says “I did it to promote the need for the Arizona border fence I’m tired of illegal aliens taking jobs from Americans especially when unemployment is 9.2 percent.” At the moment, due to a spelling error, Chinchuck's site misdirects people to a non-existent "BUILDTHEBORDEFENCE.com"...

5. In Maryland, a DREAM deferred: The veto referendum about in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, also known as the Maryland “Dream Act,” (SB 167) is headed to the 2012 statewide ballot. As of Friday, July 22 the final deadline to verify and certify the proposed measure, officials announced that a total of 108,923 signatures were cleared. The veto referendum questions legislation that would allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state or in-county tuition at Maryland colleges. However, in order to qualify students are required to have attended a Maryland high school for three years, as well as prove that their parents or themselves paid taxes. Governor O'Malley had signed the measure into law back in May.

The Maryland Catholic Conference has responded by creating an Interdiocesan Immigration Task Force, whose mission will be to educate Maryland Catholics about why the DREAM Act deserves their support, and to help them make the connection between Gospel values and the Church’s public policy positions on immigration. They have also set up a Justice for Maryland Immigrants Facebook page which I would encourage everyone to visit and "like".

6. California DREAMin....: This week, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the so-called California Dream Act easing access to privately funded financial aid for undocumented college students. He also signaled that he was likely to back a more controversial measure allowing those students to seek state-funded tuition aid in the future.

7. Recession Study Finds Hispanics Hit the Hardest: Hispanic families accounted for the largest single decline in wealth of any ethnic and racial group in the country during the recession, according to a study published this week by the Pew Foundation. The study, which used data collected by the Census Bureau, found that the median wealth of Hispanic households fell by 66 percent from 2005 to 2009. By contrast, the median wealth of whites fell by just 16 percent over the same period. African Americans saw their wealth drop by 53 percent. Asians also saw a big decline, with household wealth dropping 54 percent.

Photos are from the demonstration mentioned in Item 1.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Judging less, loving more

Today's Gospel reading called me back to watching my Peruvian friend, Fr. Miguel, who is now the provincial for his Jesuit region, celebrate his first Mass (photo). He preached on this text and one of his confreres posted the text in Spanish on the Web. I translated it but only shared it with Fr. Miguel. Now I want to share his words with everybody. Fr. Miguel was raised in Paita, a port town near Piura, and so he was exposed to the fishing industry as a child and thus Jesus' parable was very meaningful to him. Felicitaciones en el aniversario de tu ordenación, Miguel!

by Fr. Miguel Cruzado, S.J. (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Colegio San Ignacio, Piura, Peru
July 24, 2005

1 Kings 3:5-12
Romans 8:28-30
Matthew 13:44-52


Today’s texts speak to us about values and choices. There are some things in life more valuable than others.

The Lord uses three comparisons to show the worth of the values of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is like a fine pearl or like a treasure hidden in a field. And the third comparison is to a net filled with fish where the bad and the good ones are mixed together.

The Lord invites us to know how to choose. He invites us to choose the pearl of the values of the Kingdom. The choice is clear: the values of the Kingdom are our best option; they are our best investment. This implies two things: First, that for we who are Christians everything is not equal. There are some things that are worth more than others. And second, that we become Christian according to the choices we make in life. One becomes Christian by one’s choices. Being Christian is not a label or a hereditary condition. It is something that happens every day.

Choosing the fine pearl or the treasure in the field seems obvious at first glance. It is obvious that between the values of the Kingdom and the anti-values of the world, the choice is clear. Between honesty and corruption, there is not much about which to argue. We know very well which is worth more. We will no longer negotiate with corruption and impunity.

Nonetheless, the choice of the fine pearl may sometimes imply selling other smaller pearls that may also have value.

The third comparison speaks to us of a net that gathers up all kinds of fish. There are good and bad fish. You know that I am from Paita, from the port. Ever since I was a little boy, I have watched this separation of the fish. I would see the large trays full of fish on the pier, and the fishermen with thick gloves separating the fish into different trays. The fishermen recognize the different kinds of fish. However, someone who doesn’t know could get lost. Many fish look alike. They have similar colors and in the midst of the multitude of fish, it might not be so simple to separate the good and bad ones.

Even when we choose the Lord and His Kingdom, it will not always be simple to separate the good from the bad in daily life. Sometimes we won’t see clearly what is best in our family, work, or social life. The task of discerning and making the best choice each day will not always be clear.

Everyone knows this. We adults here know it.

The fishermen return fish to the sea not because they are intrinsically bad but because they are still too small. It’s not their time. They will be good someday…not today.

Other fish are bad because it’s not the time of year when the market pays for them. The price is low; it’s not worth catching them right now. There are fish that are considered good in one region but not in another.

It may not be simple to discern the values of the Kingdom in daily life.

The task is arduous and there are those who do not separate the fish. They don’t choose and simply put all the fish – good and bad, small and large -- all of them in the same bag. This is like some of the fish flour processors that burn up everything and plunder our sea. They do it for money. There are those who prefer not to choose for monetary reasons. We have seen that there have been those who for money have blurred the good and the bad in our society. They have corrupted institutions and people. They don’t care.

Others don’t separate out of laziness. They sell everything by weight. They lose money. There are also people who don’t choose out of laziness. They never make decisions. They let themselves be swayed by others, by the current trend. They water down their lives and remove strength and quality from their options.

The Kingdom is not achieved by having the name “Christian”, but by the choices we make. The Kingdom is chosen. Our life choices speak of the Heaven we seek.

Like King Solomon in the first reading, we should ask the Lord for the wisdom to know how to choose – to know how to distinguish between good and evil, the opportune and the inopportune, the best and the rest.

These are the texts that the Church proposes to us for today’s liturgy. But we are also here because it is the first Mass of a new priest.

What does all this have to do with priestly work?

Priests, like all Christians, also have to and will have to know how to choose between good and evil and will have to ask for the gift of wisdom like Solomon.

So what will be my role as a priest?

One night they came to find my father, a doctor in Paita. It was at about two in the morning. They came bringing a man who had been injured by a sea serpent among the fishes he was separating, which had bitten him horribly. As he was separating and selecting, he had been injured in a very ugly way by one of those bad fishes he was surely going to discard.

There are those who are wounded by this work of discerning and separating the good from the bad, the just from the unjust. Whoever makes choices in his life and wants to remain faithful to his choices will certainly have difficulties.

As a priest, I want to ask the Lord’s grace to know how to accompany the difficult discernment of my friends, the people, and the community to which I will go.

To accompany when and where the path to follow is not clear…and isn’t for anyone – not even for the Church – not even for myself.

To accompany the questions, the weariness, the conflicts of my friends, of my brothers and sisters, in their daily choices.

To accompany the doubt of my people, celebrate their faith, nurture our faith together, share our questions.

Let us hope that I will be able to bring reconciliation – I who also need reconciliation in my soul.

To accompany, welcome, and bring reconciliation freely, without seeking to convert anyone.

Like the women at the foot of the Cross. Let us hope I am able to accompany the wounded side of each one, the fragile side of our humanity.

As a Jesuit I am a dreaming missionary, son of the vision of the Magi and of the Kingdom. I want to be effective in the mission and make the world a more just and beautiful place.

As a priest, I want to be someone who knows how to welcome freely – a man who acknowledges his own wounds, knows how to accompany the wounded side of people and stand with the weakest in this home of ours.

It is my condition as a wounded missionary that makes me feel prepared for the ministry I begin today.

Today I feel profoundly called as a priest to let live within me much of what our culture considers to be maternal and feminine – to know how to accompany, welcome, and nurture. Mary of Nazareth should inspire our priestly attitude much more.

May the Lord help us to judge less and love more.

EN ESPAÑOL:

Los textos de hoy nos hablan de valores y de opciones. Hay cosas en la vida que son mas valiosas que otras.

El Señor utiliza tres comparaciones para mostrar lo valioso de los valores del reino: el reino es como una perla fina o como un tesoro escondido en un campo. Y la tercera comparación es una red llena de peces donde se confunden peces buenos y malos.

El Señor nos invita a saber elegir. Nos invita a elegir la perla de los valores del reino. La elección es clara: los valores del reino son nuestra mejor opción, son nuestra mejor inversión. Eso significa dos cosas: primero, que para nosotros, los cristianos, no todo es lo mismo. Hay cosas que son mas valiosas que otras. Y, segundo, que nos hacemos cristianos según las opciones que vamos tomando en la vida. Uno se hace cristiano según sus opciones. Ser cristiano no es una etiqueta o una condición heredada. Es algo que se hace cada día.

Optar por la perla fina o el tesoro del campo parece evidente a primera vista. Es evidente que entre los valores del reino y los antivalores del mundo, la opción es clara. Entre la honestidad y la corrupción, no hay mucho que discutir: Sabemos muy bien qué vale más. No negociaremos jamás con la corrupción y la impunidad.

Sin embargo, a veces, la opción por la perla fina puede suponer vender otras perlitas que también tendrán su valor.

La tercera comparación habla de una red que saca todo tipo de peces. Hay peces buenos y peces malos. Ustedes saben que yo soy de Paita, del puerto. Desde chico he visto eso de separar peces. Veía en el muelle las grandes bandejas llenas de peces, y los pescadores, con guantes gruesos separando los peces en bandejas diferentes. Los pescadores reconocen los distintos tipos de peces, sin embargo quien no conoce puede perderse. Muchos peces se parecen entre si. Tienen colores similares y en medio de la multitud de peces puede no ser tan sencillo separar los peces buenos y malos.

Aun cuando optamos por el Señor y su reino, no será siempre sencillo separar el bien del mal en la vida diaria. A veces no veremos con claridad que es lo mejor en nuestra vida familiar, laboral o social. La tarea del discernir y elegir por lo mejor, cada día, no será siempre evidente.

Toda persona lo sabe. Los mayores aquí lo sabemos.

Los pescadores devuelven al mar algunos peces no porque sean intrínsecamente malos, sino porque son aun muy pequeños. No es su tiempo. Ya serán buenos un día. Hoy, no.

Otros peces son malosporque no es la época del año en que el mercado paga por el. El precio esta bajo, no vale la pena capturarlo ahora. Hay peces que no son considerados buenos en una región y si lo son en otra.

Puede no ser sencillo discernir los valores del reino en la vida cotidiana.

La tarea es ardua y hay quienes no separan entre los peces. No eligen y simplemente todos los peces, buenos y malos, chicos y grandes, todos, los meten en el mismo saco. Como algunas harineras que queman todo y depredan nuestro mar. Lo hacen por dinero. Por dinero habrán quiénes preferirán no elegir. Por dinero, hemos visto, ha habido quienes han embarrado lo bueno y lo malo de nuestra sociedad, han corrompido instituciones y personas. No les importa.

Hay otros que no separan por pereza. Y venden todo al peso. pierden dinero. Hay gente también que no elige por pereza, nunca toma decisiones, se deja llevar por los demás, por la corriente. Aguan su vida, le quitan fuerza y calidad a sus opciones.

No se tiene el reino por llevar el titulo de cristiano, sino por las opciones que tomamos. El reino se elige. Las opciones de nuestra vida hablaran del cielo que buscamos.

Como el Rey Salomón en la primera lectura, nos toca pedirle al Señor sabiduría para saber elegir. Para saber distinguir entre el bien y el mal. Lo oportuno y lo inoportuno. Lo mejor y lo accesorio.

Estos son los textos que la Iglesia nos propone para la liturgia de hoy. Pero estamos aquí también porque es la primera misa de un nuevo sacerdote.

¿Qué tiene que ver todo esto con la labor sacerdotal?

Los sacerdotes también tienen y tendrán que saber elegir entre el bien y el mal, como cada cristiano. Y pedir la gracia de la sabiduría como Salomón.

Que será entonces lo propio mío, como sacerdote?.

Una noche vinieron a buscar a mi padre, médico en Paita. Eran como las dos de la mañana. Venían trayendo a un hombre lastimado por una serpiente de mar metida entre los peces que el estaba separando y le había mordido horriblemente. Separando y eligiendo había sido lastimado de manera muy fea por uno de esos peces malos que debía seguramente desechar.

Hay los heridos de esta labor de discernir y separar entre el bien y el mal, entre lo justo y lo injusto. Quien elige en su vida y quiere ser fiel a sus opciones, seguramente tendrá dificultades.

Como sacerdote quisiera pedir la gracia al Señor de saber acompañar el difícil discernir de mis amigos, de la gente, de la comunidad a la que vaya.

Acompañar allí cuando no sea claro el camino a seguir. Y no lo sea para nadie. Ni aun para la iglesia. Ni aun para mi mismo.

Acompañar las preguntas, los cansancios, los conflictos de mis amigos, de mis hermanos, en sus opciones de cada día.

Acompañar las dudas de fe de mi pueblo, celebrando su fe, cuidando juntos nuestra fe. Compartiendo nuestras preguntas.

Ojalá sea capaz de reconciliar, yo que también necesitaré reconciliación en el alma.

Acompañar, acoger, reconciliar & gratuitamente. Sin buscar convertir a nadie.

Como las mujeres al pie de la cruz. Ojalá sea capaz de acompañar el lado herido de cada cual y el lado frágil de nuestra humanidad.

Como jesuita soy un misionero soñador, hijo de la meditación del Magis y la meditación del reino, quiero ser eficaz en la misión y hacer del mundo un lugar mas justo y bello.

Como sacerdote quisiera ser alguien que sepa acoger gratuitamente, un hombre que reconociendo sus propias heridas sepa acompañar el lado herido de la gente y estar con los mas débiles de esta casa nuestra.

Es mi condición de misionero herido la que me hace sentir preparado para el ministerio que hoy comienzo.

Yo me siento hoy profundamente llamado, como sacerdote, a dejar vivir en mi mucho de lo que nuestra cultura considera como maternal y femenino: saber acompañar, acoger, cuidar. María de Nazaret debe inspirar mucho más nuestra actitud sacerdotal.

Que el Señor nos ayude a juzgar menos y querer más.