Marcela Bosch - Del Dios sacrificador de la Doctrina de la Seguridad Nacional al Dios de la Vida

When a centre of torture is considered an appropriate place for the ordination of a priest, we are led to ask what kind of God is being preached.

Marcela Bosch begins her thesis with a description of an ordination, which took place in 1989 at the Escuela Superior de Mecánica de la Armada, the Argentine Naval Academy that functioned as an illegal detention centre during the military dictatorship (1976–1983). How is it possible, she asks, for the Church to accept without comment, the torture and disappearance of thousands?

Through analysis of the documents and statements of the generals and bishops of that period, Bosch argues that the repressive Doctrine of National Security was supported by a theology of sacrifice, preached by the majority of Catholic bishops in Argentina at that time (Bosch 1992: 3).

At the beginning of the dictatorship, both Church and State claimed Argentina was in a state of chaos, infiltrated by 'subversives' who sought to destroy the unity and values of Christian Argentina. Sacrifices were demanded of the nation; and Argentines were called to place the 'common good' above any individual needs or desires.

The generals and bishops talked a lot about sacrifice. But despite the fact that the actual victims were those being kidnapped, tortured and killed, the dictatorship inverted the identity of victim and oppressor, so that the military appeared as the sacrificial victim, offering their life for the Patria. The military believed their blood shed in a battle 'without limits,' would redeem the country, and bring about peace and security (Bosch 1992: 248, 256-7). The blood of their victims: students and teachers, rebels and philosophers, nuns and priests, journalists and artists, did not have redemptive power. Such deaths were described (if acknowledged at all) as the removal of tumors, or the curing of diseases, that threatened the body of society.

The generals and bishops preached a God who crucifies without resurrection:
La Buena Nueva de la resurrección y de la vida se terminaría negando, para anunciar y practicar la buena Nueva de la Crucifixión y de la muerte.
The Good News of the resurrection and of life would be negated in order to announce and carry out a Good News of the Crucifixion and of death. (Bosch 1992: 261)

Bosch urges us to abandon a cross separated from Jesus - Jesus who died as a consequence of his 'subversive' ministry. For her, the crucified Christ is a sign of solidarity with all who suffer from hunger, unemployment, etc., and to follow Jesus is to be in solidarity with the poor and marginalized (Bosch 1992: 276-8).

In the midst of death, God nourishes signs of life. And it is everyday life that we seek God and God seeks us:
This generation cannot invoke God from a place of honour within a church, because God...long ago decided to take refugee in the streets. God sat in a train, was tied down on a table of torture and knew hell. God waits in turn in the waiting room of a ruined hospital in Buenos Aires, or waits anxiously for a first date. This God, who lives and whose heart beats, remains free of whatever ideology.. because human lives... are made up of tears, smiles, triumphs and failures. [They are] found in the small things. (Bosch 1992: 279)
Marcela Bosch is an Argentine feminist theologian and sexual health educator, working with young people and community groups on issues of self-esteem, violence and sexual abuse. She completed her Licenciatura in Theology at ISEDET in 1992, with a thesis entitled: Del Dios sacrificador de la Doctrina de la Seguridad Nacional al Dios de la Vida (Tesis de Licenciada).
See also "Alfie, la opción por un Dios de la vida"

She was awarded her Doctorate in Theology from EST, São Leopoldo, Brasil in 2001 with a thesis on developing an ethic of resistance for young mothers, entitled: 'El poder de la sumisión (una mirada desde la ética feminista militante y no violenta al embarazo de mujeres jóvenes de sectores populares. Estudio cualitativo y comparativo llevado a cabo en las Regiones Metropolitanas de Buenos Aires y Porto Alegre)' A summary article is available online.

*The photo was taken last month during a visit to ESMA, now a dedicated site of national memory, given over to various human rights groups.