When Progress Goes Awry

Eloy Bueno, a Dean of Theology, Focuses on Value of the Cross

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LA LAGUNA, Spain, APRIL 29, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Progress that disregards the marginalized person isn´t progress in the real sense, says a theologian.

Dr. Eloy Bueno, dean of the School of Theology of Northern Spain, closed a six-day conference on «Faith and Human Progress,» held in the Canary Island of Tenerife.

The meeting is regarded in Spain as one of the most important events for the faith-culture dialogue. It is organized every year by the Center of Theological Studies and the University of La Laguna.

In this interview with ZENIT, Bueno focuses on the principle that explains Christian commitment to human progress.

Q: You have closed a congress on «Faith and Human Progress» by speaking about «The Cross: The Most Human Face of God.» How are these two topics related?

Bueno: Without reference to the cross, progress ends by being unilateral. Let´s say that it disregards the victims that human development always entails, and, when this is so, it ends by being inhuman.

Q: In other words, the parameters that measure progress are those who are excluded, «crucified»?

Bueno: When there are people who are excluded, the human conscience cannot be at peace in speaking about progress.

Q: But, can there be progress without competitiveness?

Bueno: To the degree that competitiveness is realized at the expense of, or disregarding, the weakest, it must be categorically said that progress becomes inhuman. Anyone who is excluded is too great a weight for humanity to be able to speak of progress.

Q: Given the human condition, there will always be those who are last and marginalized, and this is not a reason to disregard the advances of progress.

Bueno: But if progress disregards the marginalized person it is because it conceives of people as cogs of the system. In that model, people lose their face and name. Then the system itself is challenged in its foundation.

This is why strategies are invented so that we do not feel we are being stared at by the other´s needy face.

Q: Does this explain our society´s rejection of the cross?

Bueno: Rejection of the cross also implies rejection of those who are crucified. A society that lives only on consumption and the quest for pleasure ends by depersonalizing the other; it makes him an instrument for its benefit.

Q: As happens with the obsession for eroticism that characterizes this model of progress.

Bueno: For that model of progress, people are interchangeable not only from the economic point of view but also from the point of view of interpersonal relations. We disregard the tragedies or crosses of each one in the interest of particular egoisms. So the person becomes a mere instrument of pleasure.

Q: Have the crucified become a provocation?

Bueno: Indeed, they challenge the complacent conscience of the welfare society.

Q: Until now you have spoken of the «crucified,» the humiliated and the marginalized. However, in the Crucified One, the cross is not one of humiliation, but of glory. There is a radical difference.

Bueno: It is a glorious cross for two reasons: because it is seen from the Resurrection, and because it is seen as defender of the dignity of every man — for love of whom the Crucified One dies — and, therefore, the cross proceeds from seriousness in love.

Q: What does this mean?

Bueno: That Christ gave his life for man, for every man and, therefore, that the look of the needy cannot leave us indifferent; it gives us a responsibility.

Q: So we return to the beginning of our interview, that is, to understand how the cross is the foundation of progress.

Bueno: We Christians must live from the conviction of contributing to an alternative type of society, which in a word means to create a society at the service of man for whom Christ died on the cross.

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