Forum Submissions





April 2018

 Phillipines Agnes Brazal  Migrant Workers and Modern Slavery
   Brazil Alexandre A. Martins  Fraternity and The Challenge of Overcoming Violence 
   United Kingdom  Tina Beattie  Who Represents the Church?
   United States  Mary M. Doyle Roche  The Pace of the Children

March 2018

   Mary Jo Iozzio  Not Washed in the Blood of the Lamb: Another Bloodbath Against the Vulnerable
     Anthonia Bolanle Ojo  Care for the Earth: A Call to Responsible Stewardship
    Miguel Ángel Sánchez Carlos  Saber “Tomar el Pulso Social”
     Ingeborg Gabriel  The Challenge of Peace Today – Secular and Ecclesial Engagement in Dialogue
     Osamu Takeuchi  Life and Beauty in Oikonomia

February 2018


January 2018

Anthonia Bolanle Ojo
A Life of Dignity for All: The Foundation of Sustainable Development
     Hoa Trung Dinh Australia's Postal Survey on Same-Sex Marriage
     Petr Stica Dialogue with "People on the Borders" and "Beyond the Walls" and Theological Ethics
     Ramón Luzárraga El Peligro del Populismo
     Ramón Luzárraga The Peril of Populism
     Tobias Winright What Are the Implications of the "Very Possession" of Nuclear Weapons Being "Firmly Condemned"?

December 2017

Solange Ngah
What is at Stake in an Ecological Theology of Creation
     Mary Mee-Yin Yuen Who Should Decide Who I Am
     Marianne Heimbach-Steins Civil Status Law, Gender and Identity, and Catholic Ethics
     Claudia Leal Francisco en Chile: Recta Final de los Preparativos Para la Visita de 2018
     Shawnee M Daniels-Sykes More Loud Voices, More Loud Silences: Gun or Firearm Control and Active Euthanasia and Mercy Killing

November 2017

Peter Knox
Why is Africa Allergic to Elections?
     Agnes Brazal Complicity in the Summary Executions in Duterte's Drug War
     Aníbal Torres La Pregunta de Lutero y sus Implicancias Para la Ética Social
     Thomas Massaro At Stake: The Soul of the Nation

October 2017

  Tina Beattie No Fences Left to Sit On
     Stanislaus Alla Democracy at Crossroads in India!
     Emilce Cuda El Endeudamiento de la Ética Teológica Aplicada
   United States  Mary Doyle Roche An American Horror Story

September 2017

South Africa Anthony Egan Augustine our Interlocutor
   Phillipines Eric Genilo Anti-Discrimination Legislation for LGBT Persons
  Austria Ingeborg Gabriel "So Sorry!" - Reflections on the Moral Importance of an Everyday Word
   Puerto Rico Jorge José Ferrer La Vacunación Pediátrica Obligatoria: El Caso de la Vacuna del VPH
  United States Michael Jaycox Moving from Words to Action After Charlottesville

July 2017

Nigeria Anthonia Bolanle Ojo Religious Intolerance in Nigeria: An Abuse of Human Rights
   Japan Osamu Takeuchi A Path Towards the Building of Peace
   Brazil Alexandre Martins Are Brazilians Cordial People? - Intolerance and A Camillian Physician, a Sign of Hope
  United States Ramón Luzárraga Access to Public Transportation Should Be Made (More) Explicit in Catholic Social Teaching
   United States MT Dávila To Set the Captives Free: Justice for Black and Brown Communities in an Era of Mass Detention and Incarceration

June 2017

South Africa Anthony Egan Standing for the Truth - Again!
   Malaysia  Sharon Bong Asia's Diversity and Gender Diversity
   Hungary  Tamás Ragadics and Gusztáv Kovács Are you In, or Out? - Public Service in Hungary
   Mexico  Miguel Ángel Sánchez Carlos Hoy en México el Periodismo es Profetismo
  United States   Shawnee Daniels-Sykes Dream Maker Reviving our Peace: Our Current Reality and the Story of Joseph

May 2017

Kenya Peter Knox Airbrushing Reality Airbrushing Reality 
   Australia  Hoa Trung Dinh  Assisted Dying Bill in Victoria Must Be Rejected
   Argentina  Pablo Blanco  Laudato Sí­ - Care of Creation as the New Social Issue
   United States  Mary M. Doyle Roche  Solvitur Ambulando - It Is Solved by Walking

April 2017

 Kenya Teresia Hinga Left to Tell, Left to Heal (each other) through Story and Testimony: Her-Stories of African Women's Quest for Justice and Healing in Contexts of Transition
   Hong Kong  Mary Mee-Yin Yuen  Small-Circle Election in Hong Kong
   Argentina  Augusto Zampini  Laudato Si' and Catholic Dialogue on Integral Ecology
   Chile  Claudia Leal Luna  Quien No Conoce el Bosque Chileno, No Conoce Este Planeta
   Brazil  Alexandre Martins  Public Dialogue and the Role of Media: Examples from Brazil and the USA
  UnitedStates Mary Jo Iozzio Reconciliation in Ordinary and Extraordinary Times
  United States Thomas Shannon The Lasting Legacy of Amoris Laetitia

March 2017

South Africa Anthony Egan The Moral Implication of Protest 
  Phillippines Agnes Brazal Fake News, Facebook, and "Ethics in Internet"
  United Kingdom Tina Beattie It Stops With Me!
  Argentina Anibal Torres El Papa Francisco y la "ética de la solidaridad" en las relaciones internacionales
  United States Thomas Massaro Ethicists and President Trump: Providing Moral Leadership for Vigilance and Resistance

February 2017

 Cameroon  Solange Ngah  The Practice of Healing Ministry in Africa: What is the Christian Contribution Today?
   India Stanislaus Alla Reconciling Peoples
  Austria Ingeborg Gabriel It's the Morals, Stupid! On the Importance of Ethics in the Post-Truth Age
   Puerto Rico  Jorge Jose Ferrer
  United States  Michael Jaycox  What is Truth?

January 2017

 Nigeria Anthonia Bolanle Ojo The Challenges of Economic Recession on the Dignity of Nigeria Citizens
   Phillipines  Eric Genilo The Marcos Burial
   United States  Ramón Luzárraga ¿Están Las Américas verdaderamente convirtiéndose en un Hemisferio de Paz?
   United States  Nichole Flores and Mary Jo Iozzio Mercy and the Failure to Form Moral Imagination

December 2016

Kenya Peter Knox HIV-vaccine launch hype
  Japan Osamu Takeuchi A Carpenter in the Reign of God
  Germany PetrStica ,Crisis of democracy' - Challenges for theological ethics / Impulses of theological ethics
  Mexico Jutta Battenberg Galindo Reflexiones en torno a la carta apostólica "Misericordia et Misera"
  USA Mary Doyle Roche "The Nightmare Before Christmas"

November 2016

 Malaysia  Sharon Bong  'What's gender got to do with climate justice?'
   Germany  Marianne Heimbach-Steins  The Jubilee of Mercy - Social ethical reflections
   Argentina  EmilceCuda  Francisco y el Trabajo
   Mexico  Miguel Angel Sanchez Carlos  Choque moral en México
   United States  Michael Jaycox  VSED: Is the Practice both Respectful and Compassionate?

October 2016

 Uganda  Margaret Ssebunya  Of violent protests in South African universities: Where is the Church in South Africa?
   United Kingdom  Julie Clague  Structural injustice revisited
   United States  Mary Jo Iozzio  The US Affordable Care Act: Modest Success

September 2016 


 Margaret Ssebunya  Examining the 2016 municipal elections in South Africa in light of the social teaching of the church on political  authority and the common good: An outsider’s observation

 Hong Kong

 Mary Mee-Yin Yuen  Wisdom, Courage and Conscience in Resistance

 United  Kingdom

 Tina Beattie  Who speaks for the Catholic Church? Women, abortion and theological ethics
   Brazil  Alexandre A. Martins  Political Power, Intolerance and Lack of Dialogue
   United States  Nichole M. Flores  A case for a globally-engaged perspective: A US Latina Perspective on Bogotá

July 2016

 Uganda Margaret Ssebunya Strengthening a pastoral response to the ecological crisis through existing spaces within the Church
   Philippines  Agnes M. Brazal Theological Ethics in Asia after Padova
   Puerto Rico  Jorge José Ferrer A diez años del encuentro de Padua:  Tareas pendientes para la teología moral
   United States

 Thomas Massaro and Mary Jo Iozzio

Padova: Ten Years Later and …

June 2016

 Kenya  Peter Knox  Business and Environment
   India  Stanilaus Alla Movements, Momentum and Metanoia
   Belgium  Ellen van Stichel  125 years after Rerum novarum
   Argentina  Emilce Cuda  Los eticistas de América Latina y el Caribe tiene algo para testimoniar.
   Puerto Rico  MT Davila  ¡Una ética atrevida!
   United States  Mary Doyle Roche  "Dear Colleague"

May 2016

 Kenya  Elias Omondi Opongo  At the brink of extinction! Poaching of Elephants and Rhinos in Africa
   Philippines  Eric Genilo  Restoring the Death Penalty
   Germany  Petr Štica  How can Christians contribute to the integration of refugees?
   Italy/Austria  Martin Lintner  The notion of conscience in Amoris Laetitia and its significance for the divorced and remarried
   Argentina  Pablo Blanco González  “Bogotá 2016 Conference: A Date with History”
   United States  Mary Jo Iozzio  Poppies and Memorializing the Dead

April 2016

 Cameroon  Solange Ngah  The burning topic of education and responsibility in the heart of the African family
   Cameroon  Solange Ngah  La question actuelle de l’éducation et de la responsabilité au sein de la famille africaine
   Japan  Osamu Takeuchi  Spirituality Informed by Faith
   Germany  Marianne Heimbach-Steins  New nationalisms in Europe and the ambivalent role of religion
   Mexico  Jutta Battenberg Galindo  La Cruz:  Misterio de Revelación.
   United States  Nichole M. Flores  Human Trafficking: A Lacuna in Catholic Ethics

March 2016

 Kenya  Peter Knox  Teaching Environmental Ethics in Africa
   Malaysia  Sharon Bong  ‘Caring for our common home’
   United Kingdom  Julie Clague  Number crunching: Catholics and same-sex unions
   United States  Michael Jaycox  Dangerous Memories, Dangerous Movements: Christian Freedom in the Empire

February 2016

   UnitedKingdom  Tina Beattie  Reflections
   Brazil  Alexandre Martins  Zika Virus and Other Mosquito-Borne Virus: The Failure of Modern Healthcare
   Puerto Rico  Jorge José Ferrer  Neurociencia, libre albedrío y teología moral
   United States  Thomas Massaro  On Economic Inequality

January 2016

 Hong Kong  Mary Mee-Yin Yuen  Internet for Communication or Persecution?
   Czech Republic  Jaroslav Lorman  Saying yes to the sin?
   United States  Mary Doyle Roche  “Hold fast to dreams” Langston Hughes

December 2015

 Kenya  Peter Knox  Pope Francis and the land issue in Africa
   India  Shaji George Kochuthara   A Ray of Hope from the World of Art and Literature
   Belgium  Yves De Maeseneer  Towards a European Theological Ethics of Migration and its Implications for Catholic Social Thought
   Argentina  Pablo Blanco Gonzalez  Argentina’s Presidential elections of 2015: The challenge of governance and unity
   Brazil  Alexandre Martins  Mariana: Tragedy of Market Fundamentalism Against the Earth and the Poor
   United States   Angela Senander  Faithful Citizenship: Papal Visit and Episcopal Statement

November 2015

 Philippines  Eric Genilo  Protecting the Lumads of the Philippines
   Germany  Marianne Heimbach-Steins  A short comment on the Synod from Germany (November)
   Puerto Rico  MT Davila  “Francisco en CUBA y EE.UU.: Teología de los gestos y culture wars”
   UnitedStates   Meghan Clark  Some Thoughts on Baby Elephants
   United States  Mary Jo Iozzio  An Opportunity [Lost] to Hear Catholic Women and Men Speak

October 2015

 Kenya  Peter Knox  Thoughts From Africa
   Japan  Osamu Takeuchi  Passing Japan's Security-related Bills—the Breakdown of the Constitutional Law, of Democracy, and of Pacifism
   Germany  Petr Štica  Stranger within your gates – Some notes on the current "European refugee crisis"
   Mexico  Jutta Battenberg Galindo  ¡La muerte del justo… la muerte del inocente… la vida de todos!
   Canada  Carolyn Chau  Syrian Refugee Crisis –A Local Canadian Response

September 2015

   Malaysia  Sharon Bong  ‘Citizens’ call out’
   Belgium/United States  Joe Selling  If not ‘gender’ … then certainly ‘women’s rights’
   Mexico  Miguel Ángel Sánchez  Diplomacia y utopía
   United States  Mary Doyle Roche  “Go, set a watchman, let him announce what he sees.”  Isaiah 21:6

August 2015

      Fr. Don Bosco Onyalla  African Catholic Scholars Discuss Challenges and Opportunities of the African Church Ahead of Synod on Family
   India  Shaji George Kochuthara  One Road Accident Death Every Four Minutes!
   United Kingdom  Gillian Paterson  LOST IN TRANSLATION:  Is SDG 5 a problem for religion?
   Argentina  EmilceCuda  Fin de la luna de miel entre Francisco y la prensa hegemónica
   United States  Nichole M. Flores  The GOP’s Latina/o Strategy: A Mirror for Catholic Social Ethics

July 2015

 Kenya  Carine Umutoniwase  The Unforgettable Black Day
   Philippines  Eric Genilo  A Safe Haven
   Austria  Ingeborg Gabriel  Ukraine at the Crossroads: Political and ethical reflections
   Puerto Rico  Jorge José Ferrer  Justicia cordial para la bioética del siglo XX
   United States  Mary Jo Iozzio  Proud, Relieved, and Heartened by the Rule of Justice

June 2015

 Hong Kong  Charles Chan  A Gift from our Holy Father
   Brazil  Alexandre Martins  Education, Dialogue and Paulo Freire
   United States  James Keenan  Grieving at Pentecost
   United States  James Keenan  Lúcás (Yiu Sing Luke) Chan, S.J.: Bridge-Builder

May 2015

 Kenya  Peter Knox  Xenophobic attacks in South Africa
   Malaysia  Sharon Bong  A poor woman's Dignity
   CzechRepublic  Jaroslav Lorman  The Slovak Church unfortunately involved in the issue of same-sex partnerships?
   Argentina  Pablo Blanco Gonzalez  COMMON GOOD, ECONOMY AND POLITICS
   Canada  Carolyn Chau  Current Canadian 'Culture Debates'

April 2015

 Belgium/United States   Joseph Selling  Visiting professor at Hekima College, Nairobi, Kenya
   India  Shaji George Kochuthara  Section 66 A of IT Act
   Belgium  Ellen van Stichel  Strawberries in springtime…
   Mexico  Jutta Battenberg Galindo  Violencia, redes sociales, conciencia y responsabilidad
   United States  Nichole M. Flores  When Discourse Breaks Down: Engaging Racial Conflict on Campus

March 2015

 Kenya  Peter Knox  Illicit Financial Flows
   Philippines  Eric Genilo  Lessons from a Papal Visit
   Germany  Petr Štica  Transnationalität und global governance als Herausforderung für die christliche Sozialethik – Bericht vom Berliner Werkstattgespräch der deutschen Sozialethiker und Sozialethikerinnen (23. bis 25. Februar) (English)
   Mexico  Miguel Ángel Sánchez  Fundamentalismos allá y aquí
   Brazil  Alexandre Martins  The Priority of Personal Goods and the Lack of Ethical Virtues: A Looking at Current Brazilian Politics
   United States  Mary Doyle Roche  To be Seen and Heard: Children, the Synod, and the World Meeting of Families

February 2015

    Ken Ogot  Fighting Terrorism or Introducing Dictatorship?
   Japan  Osamu Takeuchi  Peace and Life
   Germany  Marianne Heimbach-Steins  Europe after the Terror Attacks in Paris – A Socio-Ethical Reflection
   Canada  Carolyn Chau  Shootings and Social Responsibility

January 2015

 Malaysia  Sharon Bong  ‘Religion or rights: The higher moral ground’
   United Kingdom  Julie Clague  British Catholics and Family Morality: The times they are a-changin’
   Argentina  EmilceCuda  Francisco: ¿Etica, Política o Teología Pastoral?
   Argentina  Gustavo Irrazábal  Un sínodo en verdad “extraordinario”
   Peru  Edwin Vásquez Ghersi  El sínodo sobre la familia: Aires nuevos en la Iglesia
   United States  Mary Jo Iozzio  The Challenge of Women’s Consent

December 2014

   United Kingdom  Tina Beattie  Synod on the Family
   Mexico  JuttaBatterbergGalindo  Violencia de Género:  Un asunto pendiente en la teología moral

November 2014

 South Africa  Frances Correia  Crime and Family Life in South Africa
   Philippines  Eric Genilo  Clean Hands
   CzechRepublic  Jaroslav Lorman  Visit of Prof. Gerhard Kruip to the Czech Republic
   Puerto Rico  Jorge José Ferrer  Ética de los ministerios y de las organizaciones eclesiales:   ¿Una asignatura pendiente para la teología moral?
   United States  Angela Senander  Listening to Elizabeth Johnson: The Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

October 2014

 Zimbabwe  Nontando Hadebe  ‘The blood of your (sister) cries out to heaven’ A prophetic Trinitarian response to gender-based violence.
   Japan  Osamu Takeuchi  A Crisis of Peace in Japan
   Belgium  EllenvanStichel  Developing a Theological Anthropology for the 21st Century: An Introduction to the Anthropos Research Project (Catholic University Leuven)
   Mexico  Miguel Ángel Sánchez  Condición de migrantes
   United States  Mary Jo Iozzio  Waiting in Hope for Our Families:  The Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (October 5-19, 2014)

September 2014

 Malaysia  Sharon Bong  ‘A home to call one’s own’
   Poland  Konrad Glombik  Challenges in Research in the field of moral theology in Poland
   Argentina  Pablo Blanco Gonzalez  “PEACE UNDER FIRE IN GAZA”
   Puerto Rico  Jorge José Ferrer  Ética de los ministerios y de las organizaciones eclesiales:  ¿Una asignatura pendiente para la teología moral?
   Canada  Carolyn Chau  Euthanasia in Canada – Recent Developments

June 2014

 Tanzania  Laurenti Magesa  The Synod on the Family and Africa
   Philippines  Eric Genilo  Legislating Compassion
   Germany  Marianne Heimbach-Steins  Reflections on the election of the European Parliament
   Brazil  Alexandre Martins  Fraternity and Human Trafficking
   United States  Nichole M. Flores  Political Emotion, Religion, and the Pursuit of Racial Justice

May 2014

   Malaysia  Sharon Bong  ‘Not containing trauma and memory in the name of Allah’
   Europe  Gillian Paterson and Joseph Selling  Catholic Discourses on Population and Development
   Brazil  Alexandre Martins  Fraternity and Human Trafficking
   Puerto Rico  Jorge José Ferrer  Liberalización de las drogas: una “questio disputata”

April 2014

 Kenya  Marie-Rose Ndimbo  "Ethical Examination of overcrowding in the city of Kinshasa and its related problems."
   India  Shaji George Kochuthara  "Development without Compassion for the Aged?"
   Czech Republic  Jaroslav Lorman   "Challenges of moral theology in the Czech Republic."
   United States  William Mattison  "An Air of Change: Reception of the Eucharist for the Divorced and Civilly Remarried?

March 2014

 South Africa  Anthony Egan  Denis Hurley - Bishop And Public Ethicist
   Japan  Osamu Takeuchi  Specific Secret Protection Law: What is secret?-that is secret
   Italy  Vicenzo Viva  The Ecclesial Dimension of Moral Theology between Magisterium and Sensus fidelium.
   Mexico  Miguel Ángel Sánchez  Indignación ética ante la ausencia del Estado de Derecho
   United States  Mary Jo Iozzio  International Women's Day (March 8) and (US) Women's History Month

February 2014

 Kenya  Peter Knox  Water and oil in Turkana: How will they play out?
   Philippines  Eric Genilo  Aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan
   Belgium  Ellen Van Stichel  Happy Birth Day?
   Argentina  EmilceCuda  La teología en Argentina después de Francisco
   United States  Nichole M. Flores  Synod of Bishops on the Family: Critical Questions from the US

December 2013

 Cameroon  Solange Ngah  Changes in Family Life and the Challenges of Contemporary Culture
   Malaysia  Sharon Bong  ‘The Gospel of Families’
   Italy, Europe  Martin Lintner, The Presidium of the European Society for Catholic Theology  Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in the European Context
   Argentina  Pablo Blanco Gonzalez  Who Cares?
   Canada  Carolyn Chau  Secularism and Religious Freedom in Canada: The Quebec Charter of Values
   United States  Jillian Maxey  From the Trenches: A Reflection on the Preparatory Document on the Synod on Marriage and Family

November 2013

 Cameroon  Solange Ngah  On Communication and the Media: Reflections of a Theological Ethicist
   India  A. Vimal Kumar, MMI, Bala Kiran Vannekuty and Joseph Thambi Gone  The Impact of the Dowry System in Christian Communities
   Germany  Petr Štica  Human rights in the Catholic Church: Report of the international expert meeting “Benchmark Human Rights. Ambition and Implementation in the Catholic Church” in Münster
   Brazil  Alexandre Martins  Moral Theology and Youth
   UnitedStates  Mary Jo Iozzio  Thanksgiving at 150

October 2013

 Democratic Republic of the Congo  Marie-Rose Ndimbo  Kinshasa: A Social Drama for the Poor
   Japan  Osamu Takeuchi  Olympics or Getting out of the Nuclear Accident
   Germany  Marianne Heimbach-Steins  A Report from Graz
   UnitedStates  Bill Mattison  Veritatis splendor at 20

September 2013

 Philippines  Eric Genilo  Saying No to Blood Ivory
   Argentina  Emilce Cuda  Francisco: entre la Teología de la Liberación y la Teología del Pueblo
   United States  Nichole M. Flores  March on Washington Anniversary: Fannie Lou Hamer and the New Evangelization

August 2013

 United Kingdom  Julie Clague  Your mission, if you choose to accept it: A European Project for Catholic Theological Ethics

July 2013

 South Africa  Raymond Perrier  Whistleblowing
   Malaysia  Sharon Bong  Casinos, connections, contestations
   Mexico  Miguel Ángel Sánchez  Una oportunidad para la ética teológica desde los sujetos emergentes femeninos.
   United States  Mary Jo Iozzio  U.S. Minimum Wage at 75

June 2013

 Kenya  Peter Knox  50 years of the Organisation of African Unity
   India  Shaji George Kochuthara  The "Tyranny of Money"
   United States  William Mattison  Hope and Pope Francis:  A Reflection from the US

May 2013

 Kenya  Peter Knox  Wage negotiation season returns to South Africa’s Mines
   Japan  Osamu Takeuchi  Peace or Amendment of the Constitution of Japan?
   Canada  Mark Miller  Rewarding the Deserving?

April 2013

 Democratic Republic of the Congo  Marie-Rose Ndimbo  Wages in the DRC
   Kenya  Veronica Rop  Role of Social Media in Kenya: A Threat or Opportunity
   Philippines  Eric Genilo  Wading into Political Waters
   Mexico  Miguel Ángel Sánchez  Pope Francisco and some resonances for ecclesiology and Latin American theological ethics: cautious optimism
   United States  Nichole M. Flores  Institutional Religious Freedom: Broadening the Scope

March 2013

 Kenya  Veronica Rop  African Women and Political Participation: A Worrying Trend
   Malaysia  Sharon Bong  ‘What’s in a name?’
   Argentina  EmilceCuda  Implications of the Resignation of the Pope in the Media (available in English and Spanish)
   UnitedStates  Mary Jo Iozzio  The US Fails to Ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

January 2013

 Democratic Republic of the Congo  Marie-Rose Ndimbo  As the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO)  Face the Elections in the DRC in 2011. Were There Some Recommendations?
   India  Shaji George Kochuthara  That Delhi Girl!
   United States  William Mattison  Boundaries and Protections of Religious Freedom

December 2012

 Kenya  Veronica Rop  Escalation of Killings in Kenya: A Call for Respect for Human Life
   Philippines  Eric Genilo  The Changing Face of HIV/AIDS in the Philippines
   Canada  Mark Miller  The Media & Physician-Assisted Suicide in Canada

November 2012

 Kenya  Veronica Rop  Ushering African Women into the Year of Faith: Reflection on Motu Proprio Data
   Nigeria  Anne Arabome  Telling Our Own Stories: Seven Women, Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
   Japan  Osamu Takeuchi  Another Virtue Ethics
   United States  Nichole M. Flores  Race and Polarization in the U.S. Church and Public Life

October 2012

 Malaysia  Sharon Bong  ‘To Cut Or Not To Cut: That Is Not The Question’
   Mexico  Miguel Ángel Sánchez  La juventud estudiantil refresca el compromiso ético social
   United States  Mary Jo Iozzio  Threats to Responsible Citizenship in the 2012 US Presidential Election

September 2012

 Democratic Republic of the Congo  Marie-Rose Ndimbo  CTEWC in Africa after Trento: Engaging the African Synod: The First Day
   Kenya  Veronica Rop  CTEWC in Africa after Trento: Engaging the African Synod: The Second Day
   Kenya  Peter Knox  CTEWC in Africa after Trento: Engaging the African Synod: The Third Day

August 2012

 Kenya  Peter Knox  Human rights!  What about Rhino rights?
   Philippines  Eric Genilo  Freedom of Religion in Government Offices
   Puerto Rico  MT Davila  ¿A dónde vas Occupy?

July 2012

 India  Shaji George Kochuthara  Millions of Missing Girls! Female Foeticide and Ethical Concerns

June 2012

 Japan  Osamu Takeuchi  Should we restart nuclear power plants?
   Cote d'Ivoire  Nathanaël Yaovi Soede  La Syrie après la Libye: les maîtres du monde
   Argentina  Pablo Blanco Gonzalez  La Crisis Financiera a la Luz De la Doctrina Social de la Iglesia

May 2012

 Kenya  Veronica Rop  The African Synod: The Participation of Women in Reconciliation Justice and Peace
   Malaysia  Sharon Bong  A Second Life

March 2012

 South Africa  Anthony Egan  Criminalising Homosexuals in Uganda?
   Argentina  Emilce Cuda  Relación Iglesia-Estado: Un Debate Ético O Político?
   Brazil  Marcio Fabri dos Anjos  Nuevas Generaciones y Educación para valores éticos. Apuntes metodológicos

February 2012

 Kenya  Peter Knox  "People Power: Take Control of Your Energy"
   India  Shaji George Kochuthara  "Over an Ageing Dam"
   United States  Thomas Massaro  "Labor Justice in Catholic Social Thought and the Occupy Movement"

December 2011

 Kenya  Peter Knox  World AIDS Day 2011
   Philippines  Eric Genilo  "In God's Image"
   India  Shaji George Kochuthara  Response to "In God's Image"
   Argentina  Emilce Cuda  Mistica y Politica en los Nuevos Estilos Democraticos Latinoamericanos

November 2011

 Cote d'Ivoire  Nathanaël Yaovi Soede  "The International Community and Democracy in the South"
   India  Shaji George Kochuthara  Response to "The International Community and Democracy in the South"
   Japan  Osamu Takeuchi  "What Can We Learn from the Great East Japan Earthquake?"
   India  Shaji George Kochuthara  Response to "What We Can Learn from the Great East Japan Earthquake"
   Mexico  Miguel Ángel Sánchez  "Ethics in the Areopagus"
   India  Shaji George Kochuthara  Response to "Ethics in the Areopagus"

October 2011

 Kenya  Veronica Rop  The Challenge Posed by Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem to the African Perspective on the Dignity of Women
   Malaysia  Sharon Bong  ‘Obedient wives, first-class prostitutes and terrorism’
   India  Shaji George Kochuthara  Response to "The Challenge Posed by Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem to the African Perspective on the Dignity of Women"
   Brazil  Marcio Fabri dos Anjos  Un desafiante Escenario para la Teología Moral Católica en Latinoamérica y el Caribe (English)

August 2011

 South Africa  Anthony Egan  Good Governance, Good Grief!
   Philippines  Eric Genilo  The Challenge of Democratic Dialogue in the Philippines
   Argentina  EmilceCuda  North-South Dialogue/Dialogo Norte-Sur

July 2011

 Kenya  Peter Knox  Mining in South Africa
   India  Shaji George Kochuthara  Response to "Mining in South Africa"
   India  Shaji George Kochuthara  The Transparency Revolution in India
   Mexico  Miguel Ángel Sánchez  Ethical living: Hope despite everything in an "underground city" of Mexico City


Alexandre Martin

The Pace of the Children

2 Comment(s) | Posted | by Mary M. Doyle Roche |

So let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I move along slowly at the pace of the flocks and herds before me and the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.

Genesis 33:14


Anyone who has walked with young children knows that the going can be slow: adults bend over to grasp tiny hands as journeys start and stop for bathroom breaks or the chance to wonder at a blade of (sometimes at every blade of) grass. Adults might feel encumbered by diaper bags, juice boxes, snacks, and other “just in case” items. Nevertheless, the pace is measured by the lead of our children.


But the going is not always slow. Sometimes adults are scrambling to catch up to the children who have run ahead. In the last few weeks, children and young people have clearly outpaced adults. Nearly a year ago, I submitted a forum piece about protest marches that had sprung up in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. On March 24, 2018, the March for Our Lives took place in cities across the United States (and I am writing again). Young people organized these marches in the aftermath of the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Students had already led “walkouts” in their schools to commemorate the seventeen who lost their lives in that tragedy and to call for reforms that would improve school safety, including reforms to gun control laws. Students who have long felt and/or have been unsafe in their neighborhoods and schools shared the platform with students experiencing the shock of violence for the first time.


The walkouts and the marches have had their detractors. Unsurprisingly, the National Rifle Association claimed “Gun-hating billionaires and Hollywood elites are manipulating and exploiting children as part of their plan to DESTROY the Second Amendment.” At the same time, the NRA has exploited the tragedy in a recruiting campaign, “Stand and Fight for Our Kids’ Safety by joining the NRA.” Rick Santorum, former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, claimed that even as tens of thousands of young people travelled to DC to protest, they were essentially “looking to someone else to solve their problem” and recommended that instead of focusing on gun reform they should do something at the individual level, like learning CPR. He called for solutions that encourage students to focus on being prepared to respond (rather than proactive work on efforts toward prevention), scornfully, he chides further on what their protesting is about: “Oh, someone else needs to pass a law to protect me."


In addition to illustrating the poles of a debate about the role and limits of the government in securing the common good, these reactions to the peaceful and powerful response of young people also reveal incoherence in how the moral agency of children and young people functions in our communities. Some bemoan a selfie generation hypnotized by media screens and in need of clear and authoritative guidance in virtue on the part of adults. Some critique efforts to secure the rights of children, seeing rights as an abdication of adult responsibility to protect children. Ironically while eschewing agency, this same chorus is now chastising children and young people for taking responsibility, acting bravely and constructively to make “their problem” our own, and publicly demanding the kinds of protection only adults can provide, including perhaps especially adult legislators at that.


Gregory Boyle, SJ, founder of Homeboy Industries and author of Tattoos on the Heart, has recently published a follow-up, Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship. With Barking, he brings readers deeper into reflection on violence in the communities in which he ministers. According to Boyle, “nothing stops a bullet like a job.” Nothing beats isolation like meaningful participation in the common good; nothing beats stigma like compassion and mercy. As Boyle traces the history and roots of violence in the lives of young men and women at Homeboy Industries, he gives particular thoughtful attention to the role of mental illness. Enhanced support and treatment for persons with mental illnesses are desperately needed to interrupt cycles of trauma and violence. Rightfully, Boyle is equally insistent that, referring to persons with mental illness, there are no “monsters” here. Sadly, as Boyle and others recognize, the historical and continuing rhetoric around mental illness and mass violence relies heavily on the stigmatization of persons with mental illness and what may be the subtle but sure erosion of their civil rights.


Does our society and church need to address bullying in schools, workplaces, and families? Yes. Does our church and society need to address the multivalent challenges faced by people who live with mental illness and those who love, care for, and teach, work, and play with them? Yes. Will these efforts require both interpersonal and structural change? Yes. Forcing choices between gun laws, bullying, and mental illness only sets up false oppositions. The young people marching for their lives –lives characterized paradoxically by fear and courage, noise and silence, powerlessness and power—seem to know that these forced choices are lies … and they are not falling for it. Let’s keep up with their pace as we march in solidarity for justice, peace, and the common good.


Who Represents the Church?

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Tina Beattie |

Two media stories about young people in March 2018 invite reflection on where the institutional Church positions itself in relation to the increasingly divided politics and alienated societies of late modernity. The first is the “March for Our Lives” movement, when thousands of young Americans took to the streets to call for a change in that country’s gun laws after yet another mass shooting, this time at a high school in Parkland, Florida. The second is the gathering of more than three hundred young people in Rome, taking part in a preparatory meeting for the October 2018 Synod on Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment.


Both the March for Our Lives and the pre-Synod youth meeting pose challenges to the Catholic hierarchy in its ability to listen to and learn from young people. Will the institutional Church once again – as so often in history – align itself with the status quo with all its violent patriarchal underpinnings as that system comes under siege, or will it rise to the challenge of speaking with and for a new generation at a time of rapidly changing values and visions?


As an American political catastrophe unfolds, the sight of a new generation of Americans challenging the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) offered a glimpse of what could become a transformed political landscape. Eighteen-year-old Cuban American Emma Gonzalez achieved iconic status when she stood on the stage in silence for six minutes during the March for Our Lives rally in Washington. This marked the time it took to kill 17 of her fellow students and staff in the Parkland shootings. Shaven-headed and sporting a Cuban flag on her jacket, this bisexual woman has become a poster girl for American youth activism. Not surprisingly, she has also become a target for conspiracy theorists and politicians of the Far Right, including some who proudly flaunt their Catholicism.


Former Pennsylvania senator and political commentator Rick Santorum was interviewed on CNN after the March for Our Lives. He defended supporters of the NRA and suggested that, instead of calling for stricter gun control laws, these “kids” would be better learning CPR and taking personal responsibility for tackling violence. Santorum epitomizes the American Catholic Right and its evangelical political alliances, as described in Antonio Spadaro’s article, “Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism: A Surprising Ecumenism.” He is a defender of American military interventionism and an enthusiastic champion of the NRA. He is opposed to contraception and abortion, and he once compared homosexuality to bestiality. He is dismissive of climate change lobbyists, and has criticised Pope Francis for embracing environmental concerns.


Such conservative Catholics found support during the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, whose concerns for doctrinal absolutism led to an exaggerated emphasis on issues of sexual and reproductive conformity as the litmus test of Catholic orthodoxy. They are less representative of Catholic identity under Pope Francis. Nevertheless, nowhere has the Church flexed its political muscles so vigorously as around issues of gender, sexuality and reproductive rights. Pope Francis has been harsh in his repeated condemnation of what he, like his predecessors, refers to as “gender ideology”. A day after the March for Our Lives, in his Palm Sunday address, he urged young people to continue to speak out and to resist attempts to silence them, yet it remains true that issues of gender are taboo in the Vatican. I have no idea what Gonzalez’s religious views are, but as a bisexual woman she is far more likely to be ostracized and silenced in the Catholic Church than her compatriot Santorum. An event to mark International Women’s Day on March 8th this year organized by Voices of Faith had to be moved to a venue outside the Vatican when two speakers on the list were banned because of their support for gay rights – former Irish President Mary McAleese, and Ugandan lesbian LGBTQI activist Senfuka Joanita Warry. Both women are devout Catholics. The cardinals and Pope were invited to attend but did not even bother to reply, let alone show up.


This was in contrast to the welcome that those young people received in Rome. They were encouraged by Pope Francis to “be brave”, to speak out freely and without inhibition. The final pre-Synod report acknowledges differences among delegates from around the world, but there was a shared desire for a more inclusive, authentic and attentive Church, with more opportunities for women. The report asks the Church’s leaders to “speak in practical terms about controversial subjects such as homosexuality and gender issues, about which young people are already freely discussing without taboo.” Young Catholics seek a sense of identity rooted in Catholic values but capable of acknowledging the realities they face, at a time when they are besieged by problems such as family breakdown and divorce, issues of sexuality, the impact of social media, pornography, various forms of addiction, violence, human trafficking, corruption and poverty.


Gonzalez symbolizes a new generation of activists – young people who are passionate about non-violence, social justice, the environment and inclusivity, with an all-embracing approach to those of different genders and sexual orientations. When church leaders come down uncompromisingly against such inclusivity, it is the powerful who benefit and the voiceless who are further marginalized and alienated. If the Synod on Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment in October is truly seeking to engage with and represent young voices, it needs to take seriously the challenge that people such as Gonzalez pose to its position in fractured societies like the United States. So long as men like Santorum can proudly claim Catholic identity while women remain second class citizens in the Church and transgender, bisexual and gay Catholics are ostracized and silenced, we should not be surprised if the Church once again ends up on the wrong side of history – with the fascists and the men of violence, and against the fledgling movements of equality and freedom that seek to rise on fragile wings.



Fraternity and The Challenge of Overcoming Violence

1 Comment(s) | Posted | by Alexandre Martins |

Urban/rural violence has achieved astronomic numbers in Brazil. Many say that violence in Brazil kills more people than some wars, such as the Syrian war. This seems to be true. Numbers show that the death toll in Syria (although these numbers vary according to different agencies) was 49,700 people in 2016.[1] In the same year, 61,283 people were killed in Brazil as victims of violence.[2] Although Brazil has only 3% of the world’s population, 13% of the world’s homicides occur in this country. Organized crime and narcotrafficking have grabbed such power that public authorities and security forces are lost and inoperative in some cities, such as in Rio de Janeiro. Only there, 134 police officers were killed by organized crime in 2017.[3] With the failure of civilian leaders from State and city governments, the federal administration took authority to lead the public security in this region by promoting a military intervention; that is, the federal administration sent the army to Rio de Janeiro to address the out-of-control violence. However, this is a very controversial (and inefficient) measure that brings terrifying memories from a recent past of twenty-one years of an oppressive and violent military intervention: the military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985.

              The Catholic Church in Brazil is aware of the spread of violence. This is not something that began in the last few months. It has been growing in recent years in a country that has failed to address socio-economic inequalities and to promote justice and opportunities. The growth of violence occurs in parallel to the growth of unemployment and poverty. Preoccupied with this reality, CNBB (National Conference of Brazilian Bishops) elected Fraternity and the Overcoming of Violence as the theme of its annual Fraternity Campaign of 2018, launched every year on Ash Wednesday. With this, the Catholic Church aims to “build fraternity by promoting a culture of peace, reconciliation, and justice in light of God’s Word, as a way to overcome violence.”[4]         

              According to a document written to guide reflections and actions of Catholic communities, studies show that violence in Brazil is:


-          Classist – against the poor;

-          Racist – against Afro-Brazilians;

-          Sexist – against women;

-          Religious – against Afro-Brazilian traditions.


People from these groups are those who suffer more as victims of violence. The police and prison systems are broken and inoperative. Brazil has more than 650,000 inmates detained in extremely precarious conditions with approximately 40% of people with more than two years in jail waiting for their trial. This places the country in the top five for prison population. In almost the entire country, the police force is not trusted by the citizens. This force does not work effectively, is precariously trained, does not have adequate equipment, and is under paid. All this contributes to the corruption of police officers, many of whom collaborate with organized crime in the exchange of (narcotraffiking) money or guarantee that an officer will not be killed. The Catholic Church denounces that the public power (at all municipal, state, and federal levels) has been recalcitrant in addressing violence and its socio-economic causes. This contributes to the creation of “cultural violence” in which part of a population becomes tolerant to acts or situations of violence against specific people, usually from the groups listed above.

Military intervention is an example of the failure of public power and the use of violence to combat violence. This does not work and creates even more violence and death against those who are vulnerable. The Jesuit theologian Élio Gasda denounces this arbitrary decision by the current federal administration saying: “This measure shows the banalization of the lives of the poor, the black and those who live in slums… State racism persecutes and kills those whose crime is being black and living in a slum.”[5] Following the same perspective, the theologian Maria Clara Bingemer (who was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, where she works as faculty member at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio) stresses: “Rio de Janeiro people have a deep desire that the federal intervention, now in place, does not add more blood, more mourning, and more pain to those that are already daily present in the lives of these people… Violence generates violence. The dynamics of peace cannot be applied if the starting point is a cruel and aggressive intervention…Violence is the daughter of injustice.”[6]

The CNBB document was written before the military intervention in Rio de Janeiro; so it does not address this topic. But it shows that violence is not the way to address violence, but rather a culture of mercy and reconciliation. A specific objective of this campaign is: “To identify the impact of violence on all rural and urban realities of our country in order to propose ways to overcome violence with dialogue, mercy, and justice in accord with Catholic social teaching.”

Moreover, the Brazilian bishops know it is necessary that public policies are able to promote justice and socio-economic opportunities to address the problem of violence. They invite the Catholic community and all society “to identify, accompany, and advocate for public policies to overcome social inequality and violence.”

Being on the same page, Gasda suggests: “The formula to combat violence is: formal employment, fair wages, public schools of quality, and universal access to health care.”[7] And Dominican Frei Betto emphasizes: “The causes that must be urgently addressed are: social inequality, the dismantling of public schools, unemployment, and the destruction of the public healthcare system.”[8]

In conclusion, I end with a quote from Pope Francis’ message to CNBB and the launch of 2018 Fraternity Campaign: “We all must be agents of overcoming violence by making us heralds and builders of peace. A peace that is the fruit of integral development of all, a peace that is also born from a new relationship among all creatures.”[9]

[1] Syrian Observatory for Human Rights,

[4] CNBB, Texto-Base da Campanha da Fraternidade 2018 (Brasília: Edições CNBB, 2017).

[5] Élio Gasda, “Perverso: Um Exército a Revistar Crianças a Caminho da Escola” in Dom Total (March 1, 2018).

[6] Marica Clara L. Bingemer, “Intervenção: Um Mal Necessário?” in Jornal do Brasil (February 22, 2018),

[7] Gasda, Op. cit.

[8] Frei Betto, “Carta ao General Braga Neto” in Jornal o Globo (February 23, 2018), 

[9] Pope Francis, Mensagem Do Papa Francisco Aos Fiéis Brasileiros Por Ocasião Da Campanha Da Fraternidade De 2018 (January 27, 2018),

Care for the Earth: A Call to Responsible Stewardship

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Ojo Anthonia Bolanle |

Care for the Earth: A Call to Responsible Stewardship

Anthonia Bolanle Ojo, SSMA

At the foundation of the discussion on ecological issues is the fact that creation is a gift from God to humanity, to till and subdue (cf. Gen. 2:15). The earth was given to human beings by God the Creator to inhabit with creativity and responsibility and, in this regard, in the words of Benedict XVI, it is essential to “sense” that the earth is “our common home” which requires our stewardship and service to all.[1] The understanding of creation as gift implies the exercise of dominion of love in stewardship as against irresponsible use of nature. For John Paul II, this fundamental truth requires that natural resources be considered as gifts that have potentials to enrich human life and should be developed, not manipulated. Thus, dominion empowers human beings to acknowledge the truth about creation and to give thanks for the gift (cf. Redemptor Hominis 10). This is why dominion implies a vocation which consists in stewardship. Hence, in the use of the resources of nature, human dependence on God and the fact that the entire creation is a gift from God must be appreciated.

The creation story shows that the Creator looked upon his creation and “saw that it was good” (Gen. 1:4; 1:10; 1:12; 1:18; 1:21; 1:25). It also reveals to us that not only is everything God created good, but also that creation itself reflects the magnificence of God. The Psalmist eloquently describes a profound experience of God’s creative power and a sense of the awesome responsibility of the human creature thus: “When I see the heavens, the work of your hands, the moon and the stars which you arranged, what is man that you should keep him in mind, mortal man that you care for him? Yet you have made him little less than a god, with glory and honor you crowned him, gave him power over the works of your hand, put all things under his feet. All of them, sheep and cattle, yes, even the savage beasts– birds of the air, and fish that make their way through the waters” (Ps. 8:3—8).

Nevertheless, it is God’s creation of mankind that completes the created order in such a way that he pronounces it to be "very good" (Gen. 1:31). The Catechism of the Catholic Church explicit states: "Man is the summit of the Creator’s work, as the inspired account expresses by clearly distinguishing the creation of man from that of the other creatures.”[2] As the summit of God’s creation, man reflects God in a most excellent way, and as the image of God, human beings have the capacity for reason, which enables us to know God, the world, and ourselves. We are also endowed with the powers of freedom and imagination that allow us to reflect upon our experiences, choose a course of action, and thus become cooperators in the work of creation. Hence, we become co-creators with God. This privilege bestows on us a dignity that surpasses other creatures precisely because we can participate spiritually in God’s creativity in a manner that far exceeds the merely physical capabilities of other creatures.

It follows, then, that with such capabilities, and by virtue of our dignity, God placed human beings in governance over his creation: “Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth” (Gen. 1:26). This dominion was specified as a command to “till and keep” the garden (Gen. 2:15—20). Moreover, by the command of the Lord to till and keep the garden, we can assume that man was commanded to use his rationality in the governance of creation for the sake of bringing forth fruit from the earth. We can, therefore, conclude that man’s dominion over creation was intended to provide us with the means for sustaining and enhancing our existence.

In order to discharge our duties properly as good stewards, a clear understanding of what dominion means is essential. While all things have been subordinated to human beings, we should rule over them as God himself does. This dominion does not grant to us the right to "lord over" creation in a manner inappropriate with God’s own manner of governance. Human dominion does not present man as a despotic ruler. Hence, John Paul II points out that: “The dominion granted to man by the Creator is not an absolute power, nor can one speak of the freedom to ‘use and misuse’, or to dispose of things as one pleases. The limitation imposed from the beginning by the Creator himself, expressed symbolically by the prohibition not to ‘eat of the fruit of the tree…’ shows clearly enough that, when it comes to the natural world, we are subject not only to biological laws but also to moral ones, which cannot be violated with impunity.”[3]

Thus, dominion requires responsible stewardship. Such stewardship must uphold the common good of humanity, while also respecting the end for which each creature was intended, and the means necessary to achieve that end. Disordered human actions, which harm creation, and by extension, human life and property directly threaten the right to life, to health, to development, to housing, to work, to culture and the rights of indigenous people. It is even more unfortunate that their efforts to make ends meet adds in its own way to environmental degradation and not infrequently to disaster for themselves and others who are equally poor. Therefore, irresponsible consumption, degradation, and depletion of natural resources have a huge impact on human life.

It is good to point out here that respecting the environment does not mean considering material or animal nature more important than human being. Indeed, in the history of salvation, the human person and the natural world are never ascribed the same dignity. In the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord himself, while counseling his disciples not to be anxious about their subsistence but to trust in God’s providence, assures them that God even takes care of the birds of the air, and adds, “Are you not of much greater value than they are?” (Matt. 6:26). The Scriptures frankly present an ordered hierarchy of being: God rules over all, and human beings serve as his stewards, exercising an instrumental dominion over everything, while also being accountable to him for our exalted position as the rulers of the earth. This accountability therefore means not selfishly considering nature to be at the complete disposal of our own interests, for future generations also have the right to reap its benefits and to exhibit towards nature the same responsible freedom that we claim for ourselves.

The consequence of neglecting God’s will in carrying out the call to have responsible dominion over the other creatures is the disruption of the original harmony that should exist between humanity and nature with its resultant effect: ecological crisis. Unfortunately, the contemporary world has deviated from the real meaning of stewardship as a responsibility to mean selfish use of the resources of the earth. This view has led to devastation of the environment through industrialization, degradation, etc. This made Prophet Hosea laments: “Therefore the land mourns and all who dwell in it languish, and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and even the fish of the sea are taken away” (Hos 4:3).

There is no doubt that human beings as stewards have to invest the talents that God has entrusted to them. However, human beings as a whole will do better for itself and for creation if we vigorously cultivate the intelligence and creativity with which we have been endowed for the good of the human person and the development of the created world. Hence, a good steward does not allow the resources entrusted to him to lie fallow or to fail to produce their proper fruit. Nor does he destroy them irrevocably. Rather, he uses them, develops them, and, to the best of his ability, strives to realize their increase so that he may enjoy his livelihood and provide for the good of his family and his descendants. Exploitation of the nature could, therefore, be seen as a misinterpretation of the mandate of dominion.

In conclusion, the Catholic Church’s engagement with environmental issues derives from its belief that Christians have a responsibility to work for the well-being of all humanity, to recognize environmental stewardship as their Christian responsibility. That creation was entrusted to human dominion does not mean that the natural world should be seen as resources to be exploited. It is rather a reality to be respected and even reverenced as a gift and trust from God. Human beings as stewards of creation are, therefore, called to enhance the divine purpose for creation and at the same time authentically develop themselves. In this way, through responsible stewardship, humanity acts as a bridge of mutual love between God the Creator and His creation.



[1]Excerpt from Papal Address on World Day of Peace, January 1st, 2008

[2] Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994), 383.

[3] Evangelium Vitae, 42.

Saber “Tomar el Pulso Social”

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Miguel Ángel Sánchez Carlos |

Saber “tomar el pulso social”

por Miguel Ángel Sánchez Carlos

“Para todo mal, mezcal y

para todo sismo, lo mismo.”

 (Refrán popular).

Decían los antiguos, con toda razón, que “los dichos son la síntesis de la sabiduría humana”. Y cuando éstos se parafrasean, como lo muestra el epígrafe de arriba, es porque esa sabiduría se está re-leyendo en una realidad concreta, reinterpretándola, resignificándola, dándole un nuevo sentido.

Los sismos que hemos vivido en los últimos meses en la zona metropolitana de la Ciudad de México, donde vivimos y circulamos a diario alrededor del 22 millones de personas, y los movimiento telúricos que se han producido también en el sureste del país (Oaxaca y Chiapas), son sucesos que forman parte de nuestro “pulso social” actual, sobre el que nos corresponde reflexionar ética y teológicamente, para leer en ellos “los signos de los tiempos” y profundizar así en “el paso de Dios en nuestra historia”.

En este contexto de sismicidad telúrica y social vivimos situaciones contrastantes y dialécticas: nos duele la tragedia de las personas que han perdido seres queridos o el patrimonio que forjaron durante años, pero tenemos un motivo más para unirnos con ellos y ser solidarios en la medida de nuestras posibilidades; nos enoja saber que la mayoría de estas desgracias se debió a la corrupción que impidió que se respetaran los reglamentos de construcción, pero externamos ese coraje a través de la difusión de burlas a los líderes corruptos; sentimos pavor ante nuevos sismos, pero tratamos de liberarnos de él mediante bromas, “memes” y caricaturas que hacemos circular en las redes sociales, cargadas de humor negro; nos molesta en el tráfico urbano la imprudencia y el ruido con que muchos motociclistas circulan, pero sabemos que ante el derrumbe de nuestro edificio, esos motociclistas arriesgarían la vida por sacarnos de los escombros o llevarnos a un hospital o transportar a médicos, medicinas, o herramientas para nuestro rescate, etc.

Como nos señala el documento de Aparecida: “La fe nos enseña que Dios vive en la ciudad, en medio de sus alegrías, anhelos y esperanzas, como también en sus dolores sufrimientos. Las sombras que marcan lo cotidiano de las ciudades, como por ejemplo, violencia, pobreza, individualismo y exclusión, no pueden impedirnos que busquemos y contemplemos al Dios de la vida también en los ambientes urbanos. Las ciudades son lugares de libertad y oportunidad. En ellas las personas tienen la posibilidad de conocer a más personas, interactuar y convivir con ellas”[1].

Es decir, vivimos dentro de un imaginario social contradictorio y dialéctico, en medio del caos urbano que nos asfixia, a veces al borde del precipicio existencial y la tragedia, y las más de las veces en el cosmos solidario de quienes saben que su vulnerabilidad social se agrava ante fenómenos que se catalogan como “naturales”[2], pero cuya causa profunda ha sido la especulación y la búsqueda de la ganancia, que dentro del sistema económico mundial nos ha llevado a olvidar los efectos degradantes sobre el medio ambiente y la dignidad humana[3].

Sabemos, por ejemplo, que la brutal extracción de agua del subsuelo de la cuenca de México[4] ha provocado, además del hundimiento de edificios, un subsuelo fangoso y arcilloso, rodeado de sedimentos y rocas, el cual al atrapar las ondas sísmicas aumenta la resonancia y la oscilación de las mismas[5], multiplicando sus efectos destructivos en las construcciones[6]. Este fenómeno se ha extendido hacia zonas periféricas de la cuenca de México[7], zonas habitadas por la población más vulnerable.

En este sentido, la forma en la que el Papa Francisco se refiere al agua, la cual “es indispensable para sustentar los sistemas terrestre y acuático”,[8] y al suelo, cuya “desertificación es como una enfermedad para cada uno”,[9] puede inspirarnos a una nueva forma de relación con la “hermana agua”, y a buscar alternativas éticas para la sustentabilidad de esta y otras megalópolis, como puede ser la creación de pozos de recarga acuífera, los cuales no sirven a los políticos para acumular votos porque no son visibles, pero que son una alternativa urgente para reducir la vulnerabilidad de la población más vulnerable de la megalópolis.

Es muy importante revalorar y potenciar lo más humano del imaginario urbano particularmente en su carácter ético, mismo que afloró en los momentos de urgencia ante los terremotos antes mencionados: la desinteresada solidaridad de los jóvenes milenials (acusados por los adultos de ser egoístas e insensibles ante la problemática social), el compartir de tantos comerciantes, especialmente de los pequeños negocios, (tachados de mercantilistas y de promover sólo las leyes del mercado salvaje), el valor civil de la población que exigía a los gobernantes actuar de forma efectiva y responsable ante la emergencia (una sociedad acusada de conformistas e indiferente), de sectores religiosos e instituciones eclesiales que organizaron el acopio y la distribución autogestivos de víveres y que promueven la reconstrucción material y del tejido social (acusadas de espiritualistas y manipuladoras).

Mucho quedan por reconstruir, restaurar y fortalecer en esta sismicidad telúrica y social. La sabiduría popular, tan impregnada de evangelio, es un recurso renovable que late en la experiencia dialéctica de nuestra ciudad, en cuyo pulso “laten” también los caminos que el Dios de la historia nos propone.

[1] Documento de Aparecida, 514.

[3] Francisco P., Carta encíclica Laudato Si’, 56.

[4] La Cuenca de México se ubica en el altiplano, que circunda a la Ciudad de México, rodeado por cadenas montañosas, como la Sierra Nevada que se ubica al este, la Sierra de las Cruces en el oeste y la Sierra del Chichinautzin en el sur. “La UNAM te explica: la historia hidrológica de la Cuenca de México”. Consultado el 30. 12. 2017.

[5] El paso brusco de un terreno duro a uno suave, provoca una transferencia de energía de las ondas sísmicas entrantes, a ondas longitudinales, lo cual hace que éstas amplíen su movimiento. Dr. Jorge Flores Valdés, investigador emérito del Instituto de Física de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Cfr. Foro Ambiental (n. 1).

[6] Un sismo mayor a 8 grados, como el que se prevé que proceda de la llamada Brecha de Guerrero, a 120 km de la CDMX, que no ha mostrado actividad sísmica en más de cien años, puede ser devastador debido al aumento en la extracción de agua en los mantos freáticos de la cuenca de México. Dr. Víctor Manuel Cruz Atienza, jefe del Departamento de Sismología del Instituto de Geofísica de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Ídem.

[7] Dr. Eugenio Gómez Reyes, especialista en hidrología de la Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM). Ídem.

[8] Laudato Sii 29.

[9] Ídem. 89.

Not Washed in the Blood of the Lamb: Another Bloodbath Against the Vulnerable

1 Comment(s) | Posted | by Mary Jo Iozzio |

Not Washed in the Blood of the Lamb: Another Bloodbath Against the Vulnerable

Mary Jo Iozzio


Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin,

And be washed in the blood of the [Land];

There’s a fountain flowing for the soul unclean,

O, be washed in the blood of the [Land]!



Are you washed in the blood,

In the soul cleansing blood of the [Land]?

Are your garments spotless?

Are they white as snow?

Are you washed in the blood of the [Land]?

“Are You Washed in the Blood,” with apologies to Elisha A. Hoffman, USA (1839-1929; 1878)


On February 14, 2018, U.S. and global observers recoiled again at yet another mass shooting in one of our schools (from daycare centers to kindergartens to universities), movie houses, concert venues, dance clubs, fast food establishments, churches, and other commons of this “Land.” Students quickly engaged social media at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, FL, to broadcast the terror going on in the school, even as some Broward County Sheriff’s deputies held positions outside and joined Coral Springs’ police who entered to locate and apprehend the shooter, former MSDHS student Nikolas Cruz. Total carnage from this rampage is 17 dead, 16 wounded, and, perhaps lost at the moment to these gruesome statistics, is the immediate witness trauma today and the post traumatic stress of the near-experience of death or material wounds from this violence that will—not may—be experienced by the students, faculty and staff at MSDHS.

            The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” as part of the potential call to Militia service in the early days of the republic. However, the nation today supports through taxation a professional military, and state and local law enforcement that meet the potential of the Amendment’s “necessary … security of a free State.” Contrary to the rights’ rhetoric of the gun lobbies, no civilian today needs the kinds of arms readily available for public consumption —like the semi-automatic weapons used in MSDHS, Pulse Night Club (Orlando, FL), 49th Street Elementary (Los Angeles), Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg, VA), Sandy Hook Elementary (Newtown, CT), Harvest Music Festival (Las Vegas), First Baptist Church (Sutherland Springs, TX), Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (Charleston, SC), and other sites of mass shootings where the vulnerable are washed in the blood of the Land—for this potential call.

            Regrettably, questions on the prevention of harm seem not to have penetrated the collective consciousness of the nation in matters of this right to bear arms. Consider that out of the U.S. population of 327, 251 million about 30% –98 million—own 310 million guns. A fraction of these 98 million –only 14 million—use their guns for hunting. U.S. residential firearm possession surpasses all other countries, a reality that reveals a far greater likelihood for anyone of us to encounter deliberate or accidental gun violence (on average: 7 of the 96 daily gun deaths are children and teens, 50 women are victims of intimate partner murder per month, and guns are the weapon of choice for 13,000+ of the 17,000+ homicides per year). As Tobias Winright has instructed (following the traditions of Augustine, Aquinas, John XXIII’s Encyclical Pacem in terris, the Catechism, and the USCCB) and national polling data confirms that 52%-70% of Americans support stricter gun laws, while we have a right to defend ourselves and vulnerable others, we have also a corresponding duty to defend life pro-actively and thereby reduce harm through social action for the preventive measures of gun control: Have we not yet been sufficiently washed in the blood of this Land?

            Another path to a reduction of harm from gun violence rests in a rejection of indifference toward our neighbors and a more committed intentionality toward their care and investment in the common good. Here I take the common good in a sense broader than the material goods of food, clothing, shelter, education, healthcare, safety, and similar goods —to which all should have ready access. Instead I consider the intangible common goods of family, community affiliations (of recreation, employment, politics, governance, church, and the like), and friendships to be as important as more tangible goods. These goods may very well be the goods lacking in the experiences of those seemingly disenfranchised and certainly isolated from relationships that matter. Rob Myers, a student housing professional based in Orlando, FL, locates one of the primary causes of mass shooting in a lack of a sense of belonging. This “sense of belonging” holds the center position in Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (from those physiological to self-actualizing). Myers writes, “loneliness is what causes these shooters to lash out.” Loneliness is surely the personal experience of others’ indifference and lack of recognition that the shooter (or I or you) matters. Indeed, the world appears and may very well be hostile to those who are desperately, that is, “without hope” lonely. However, only others can relieve the loneliness that another experiences by offering deliberate care for and about them … because they matter as much as any.

Each of us matters, really, if we take to heart Jesus’ principal criterion of the blessed and its manifestations in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy to care. Moreover, the standard makes plain the preferential concern for those who are likely lonely, … and maybe hungry, thirsty, foreign/strange, naked, sick, imprisoned such that whatever we do or don’t do for these others, we have done or failed to do for him (MT 25:31-46). So, we are challenged by imperatives to do more than think and talk and dream and sing and pray (check out C. W. Gillette "If We Just Talk", 2017). We are challenged to be the disciples that Christ will recognize not by the blood-washed remission of our sin but by shedding autonomy’s indifference for the blood- and tear-soaked neighbor in our midst. And we are challenged to reject the blood sport of the Land, as easy access to automatic and semi-automatic weapons has turned too many to hopeless vengeance against those who are vulnerable. If we do nothing to prevent the next bloodbath –sadly, all the signs of these times indicate it’s only a matter of when and where the next will unfold—then the sin of our individual and collective indifference indicts us and the blood-soaked Land –or is it the Lamb—weeps while we bury our dead.


The Challenge of Peace Today – Secular and Ecclesial Engagement in Dialogue

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Ingeborg Gabriel |

The challenge of peace today – secular and ecclesial engagement in dialogue

Ingeborg Gabriel, Vienna

Peace issues did not concern us so much since the end of the Cold War despite ongoing civil wars in different corners of the world. This is changing at an alarming speed. The following lines constitute a first reflection on my experience as a Special Representative in the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on “Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination Focusing on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians and Members of Other Religions” in 2017 (Austrian Presidency). The bulky title already indicates that it constituted the outcome of a compromise between the 57 states of the organization. It is one of three “religious” mandates, the other two being held by a Rabbi (now from the American Jewish Committee), and a Muslim professor from Turkey, which are directed to combatting antisemitism and discrimination against Muslims respectively. The third mandate differs in that it has a universalistic as well as a particularistic side, which in a fitting way mirrors the universalism proper to Christian ethics.

The primary goal of the OSCE which was founded by the Helsinki Conference in 1975 (the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe) is to further peace through cooperation. It originally was to mitigate the East-West conflict its main focus being on European issues and states. However, the United States, Canada and the states of the former Soviet Union, mainly in Central Asia, are also members as are 11 partnership countries, mainly in the Middle East.

Its tools to enhance peace were and are the so called three baskets of the Helsinki agreement: economic (now also ecological), political and military cooperation, and the strengthening of human rights and democracy. Even though this “third basket” (now called third dimension) was regarded by the states of the Eastern bloc at the time of the foundation as a mere concession to get much needed economic knowhow it developed an astonishing dynamics of its own after 1975. In many Communist states Helsinki committees were founded (many of them still in existence) in which secular humanists and Christians worked together intensively as an avant-garde in the struggle for human rights and democracy. This au fin contributed decisively to the downfall of communism in 1989 (1991). It constitutes an inspiring example and testifies to the strength of a moral and legal idea which found its courageous and determined advocates and defenders who were ready to make the sacrifices required.

Though there always existed and exist conflicts in Europe, e. g. in the Balkans, in Central Asia and in Eastern Ukraine times became more quiet. However, the struggle for human rights and democracy continued. It is now institutionally located in the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in Warsaw, which runs among others extensive programmes to monitor local elections, watches the violations of freedom of speech, organizes programmes against human trafficking and furthers reconciliation in conflict regions. Offences against religious freedom are also of growing importance because of interethnic and interreligious pluralism. They ask for tools different from those required by a bipolar ideological system some 30-40 years ago.

Social ethics is concerned with questions of justice as incorporated in social and political structures, which are to be analysed and reflected on. Therefore, it has to be taken into account that the functioning of these structures and the degree of justice that can be realized through them depend on individual agents, their actions and engagement for peace and justice. In a globalized world structural justice thereby becomes more and more a question of the justice promoted by international political structures.

This being said I would like to name three points which constitute the gist of my experience of the past year.

Firstly: Despite the fact that globalization should lead to a growth in importance of international organizations right wing, nationalistic or religiously motivated bashing of these structures as well as the universalistic worldview underlying it seem to be everywhere on the rise. This is part of this political trend, which exists last but not least in the West. Worldwide structures are seen as being outdated, clumsy, an elite project, just devouring money and not producing visible results, as the critic goes. The indictments directed against democratic politics in general are even more pronounced against international politics. This view is very explicitly voiced in the nationalistic camp, often supported by religious groups.

This is most dangerous in a globalized world, where conflicts have to be solved through global engagement, in international forums and through carefully grafted compromise. We obviously do need more internationalism based on a universalistic worldview and not less. The structures have to be deepened and improved. They need serious personal engagement in those forums that exist, the OSCE, the United Nations (UN) with its many affiliations and others. This requires an eager sense for justice as well as tolerance and a global outlook.

Of course, in an organization like the OSCE which represents about 1.2 billion people the sometimes discouraging complexity of the world becomes tangible. Structures are fragmented, bureaucrats helpless and sometimes also disinterested. Most of them, however, I have experienced as highly motivated and very receptive with regard to ethical arguments. There is a lot of thinking done there on how to improve things. I found it rather rewarding during this year to speak to motivated individuals and groups about human rights and human rights ethics as their basis going beyond the high degree of technicality human rights issues have acquired.

Secondly: In the OSCE International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) play an important role (even more so than in the UN). They sit at the table with representatives of states, influence discussions, make proposals, e. g. they participate in the process of policy shaping. As I learned during this year, Catholic and mainstream Christian organisations are underrepresented (as in other international organisations located in Vienna). This at first seemed puzzling if one thinks of the number of Catholic and other Christians living in the OSCE region and the church structures that exist there; the Christian Churches being everywhere the largest civil society organizations. This scarcity of international engagement therefore seems to be the expression of two ecclesial trends during the past decades. The Catholic world for a long period prioritized engagement at the local parish level and – secondly - concentrated on a small range of ethical issues. These two focusses have left their mark. Engagement for justice and peace was (and still is) regarded as an agenda of the left, and not much appreciated. Some time ago, as director of Justice and Peace Austria, I wanted to engage in the OSCE. Then the person responsible from the Holy See, which is a full member as a state, told me NGOs there are not welcome and certainly no Catholic NGOs. As Michael O’Flaherty, now Director of the European Fundamental Rights Agency also based in Vienna, who is the former director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights (and a former priest) said at a recent conference on religions and human rights: I wanted to be a priest and a human rights activist. In the 1980s this seemed completely compatible. Later on this was no longer the case.

The bridges were drawn up accusing the modern world and with it international institutions of their lack of humanism (mainly with regard to genderism, abortion, euthanasia and bioethics). As much as a differentiated approach to these issues is needed, a wholesale anti-modern prejudice led to Catholic voices and social ethical reflections dying out (though there are, of course, some highly engaged individual Christians there).  

As in the times when the Helsinki Committees were founded, secular and faith based organisations supporting universal humanist positions need to be strongly represented in the international arena, and they should work together for the common good. When the Catholic Church as a large international actor stands up for human rights and religious freedom she can make a considerable difference. To effectively initiate processes, however, she needs to cooperate with partners, religious or non-religious, and be ready to dialogue with them on feasible solutions. This “method” has been broadly exposed by Pope Francis in Laudato si’ (mainly Chapter 5, 163-201). It calls for forging alliances to serve moral aims of peace and justice together with other agents, be it nationally or internationally. Interreligious dialogue plays an important role here, and has also become an issue in organisations such as the OSCE.

Thirdly: Christians need to stand up for others but also for their Christian brothers and sisters. This seems self-evident, experience shows, however, that it is not necessarily so. There is an inherent fear or hesitancy to speak up for Christians whose situation in many countries (mainly in the Middle East) is precarious and often life-threating. Problems exist with regard to conversions to Christianity as a ground for the granting of asylum. To send individuals back to home countries where they face outright persecution is a blunt violation of the right to religious freedom. This is often not regarded as serious an issue as it deserves. Thereby the political scenario is somewhat irritating. Governments, which may be called right wing or nationalistic, which have not particularly good records with human rights are generous with regard to Christians (e. g. Hungary, Russia, which both call themselves proudly illiberal democracies). Liberal democracies, by contrast, tend to turn away from a clear stance. To give but one example: An Iranian singer who had converted to Christianity in Iran was denied asylum by Sweden. She was then offered a refuge by the Hungarian government which also strongly supports the return of Christians in the plains of Niniveh after the IS has been overthrown there. As the Jewish sage Hillel the Elder put it: If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?

The last question thereby seems to be of particular importance. Most of us have gotten used to the peaceful conditions that reigned in our lifetime. It seems to be the time to take up the issue again, social ethics being particularly called to reflect on the role of different international institutions and religions to promote peace and for the Churches to further engagement in this field.


Life and Beauty in Oikonomia

1 Comment(s) | Posted | by Osamu Takeuchi |

Life and Beauty in Oikonomia

Osamu Takeuchi

There is essentially a desire for beauty in life itself.  In other words, the vector of life usually aims at beauty.  Beauty in this sense is nothing but the unity of truth, goodness, and beauty.  However, two common characteristics of beauty stand out.  First, there is necessarily order in all beauty as the principle which gives serenity to the individual and peace to the community and society.  Second, there is resonance between us and the object of beauty.

God bestowed order when he created each creature.  “God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good” (Gen 1:31).  At the core of all beauty is order.  Conversely, wherever there is order there is beauty.  This order is serenity for the individual and peace in the community and society.  St. Augustine said that peace is the tranquility of order (tranquillitas ordinis).  Wherever there is order, there is necessarily tranquility which is the essence of peace.  Therefore, if we try to aim at the realization of peace, we first of all have to achieve serenity in ourselves and to be ready for building up peace in our community and society.

Jesus showed us God’s beauty. Jesus lived out his whole life without any reservations.  Therefore, the will of God totally appeared in him and the life of God has been transferred to each one of us.  “I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me” (Jn 6:38).  Jesus showed his disciples how to serve others during the last supper.  Specifically, he began to wash the disciples’ feet.  As most of us know, it is a work for the lowest slaves at that time.  By this act he teaches us the importance of being humble and of serving to others.  After washing their feet, he said, “I give you a new commandment: love one another” (Jn 13:34) – this is, as it were, his will and testament.  At the same time it is an invitation to communion with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit because “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8).  To serve each other is to love each other.  In this way, Jesus revealed to us God’s beauty.

Oikonomia (divine economy) is the mystery of salvation and God’s providential plan.  In particular, this is explained as the plan of the mystery in the letter to the Ephesians as follows:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.  In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.  In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.  In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us the mystery of his will in accord with his favor that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth (Eph 1:3-10).      

St. Irenaeus calls this summing up all things anakephalaiosis (recapitulation). Christ, as the incarnation of God’s Word, lived out his whole life without any reservations in accord with the will of his Father and gave us his life totally.

Los Desastres Naturales Como Retos Morales

1 Comment(s) | Posted | by Jorge Jose Ferrer |


Jorge José Ferrer, S.J.

Recinto de Ciencias Médicas – Universidad de Puerto Rico


Tradicionalmente hemos dicho que la ética se ocupa de los actos humanos. Es decir, solamente las acciones humanas llevadas a cabo con suficiente conocimiento y deliberación son susceptibles de valoración moral. Por lo tanto, a primera vista parecería que los desastres naturales caen fuera del campo de la moralidad. Sin embargo un creciente cuerpo de bibliografía, sobre todo en las ciencias sociales, cuestiona que los desastres –al menos la mayor parte de ellos- sean eventos puramente naturales. El desastre tiene, por lo general, un amplio componente social.

¿Qué es un desastre? La primera acepción del término “desastre”, en el Diccionario de la lengua española de la RAE, es “Desgracia grande, suceso infeliz y lamentable.” Pero es evidente que esa definición, siendo verdadera, no nos ayuda mucho para desarrollar nuestra reflexión. Escribiendo desde la óptica de la salud pública, Sarah K. Geale nos dice que se trata eventos destructivos que requieren un amplio espectro de recursos de emergencia para asistir y asegurar la supervivencia de las poblaciones azotadas. Por último, citemos a la eticista Naomi Zack. La autora define el desastre como “un evento (o serie de eventos) que daña o mata un número significativo de personas o que de otra manera perjudica o interrumpe severamente su vida diaria en la sociedad civil”. Combinando estas definiciones, podemos decir que un evento se califica como desastre por sus efectos sobre la vida humana y también. Son eventos que causan muerte y devastación. Desarticulan, además, las vidas de los sobrevivientes, en mayor o menor grado, porque interrumpen la rutina diaria y ponen en peligro el acceso a los medios ordinarios de subsistencia. Las comunidades impactadas necesitan ayuda exterior, normalmente ingente, para poder manejar sus situaciones y ponerse en vías de recuperación.

Ha sido habitual distinguir entre los desastres causados por la acción humana, como las guerras, y los que tienen su origen en las fuerzas naturales, como terremotos y huracanes. A estos últimos se les ha solido llamar “desastres naturales”. Sin embargo cabe preguntarse, como ya se ha sugerido, si debemos hablar de desastres (estrictamente) naturales. Parece prudente distinguir entre el evento natural (por ejemplo, los huracanes Irma y María, que el año pasado azotaron la zona del Caribe) y los daños que del mismo se siguen para las vidas de los seres humanos. Aunque es concebible que haya algunos eventos naturales que afectan a todos por igual en una Región (la erupción del Vesubio a los habitantes de Pompeya, por ejemplo), no es eso lo usual.

En otras palabras, para entender los desastres es preciso tener en cuenta los factores sociales implicados en su génesis y desarrollo. Los riesgos asociados a los desastres están vinculados con la vulnerabilidad creada por la distribución social de la riqueza y el poder. A mayor grado de vulnerabilidad social, mayores serán los efectos negativos ocasionados por la exposición al azote de un evento natural.

Por ejemplo, las personas que viven en situaciones económicas y sociales adversas, tienen viviendas peor construidas, ubicadas en lugares menos seguros. Tienen, además, menor acceso a la información y a los medios para recuperarse de los daños ocasionados por el desastre, como pueden ser ahorros o pólizas de seguro. Lo hemos visto en nuestra Región después del paso de los huracanes. Las casas bien construidas han soportado el embate de los vientos. Y, en general, los mejor situados socialmente han tenido una desarticulación mucho menor en sus vidas. En Puerto Rico, para poner un ejemplo que conozco de primera mano, el huracán María ha puesto al descubierto tanto la desigualdad social interna como la desigualdad de la sociedad puertorriqueña, en su conjunto, en su relación colonial con los Estados Unidos.

Si los desastres tienen una relación directa con la estructura básica de la sociedad, entonces requieren que los teólogos moralistas desarrollamos una reflexión sobre los mismos. Dicha reflexión es más urgente en estos tiempos cuando parece que los eventos climatológicos adversos van a crecer tanto en su frecuencia como en su intensidad. Este dato complica aún más el problema moral, porque dichos crecimientos parecen estar vinculados al cambio climático. En diciembre de 2017, la organización Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (británica) publicó un informe titulado Heavy Weather. En el mismo se hace revisan 59 estudios publicados entre 2015 y 2017. Cuarenta y uno de ellos concluyen que el cambio climático ha incrementado el riesgo de que ocurran eventos extremos. Los mismos se traducen en miles de muertos y en pérdidas económicas calculadas en los miles de millones de dólares (o euros). Y el cambio climático está ligado a las acciones humanas: deforestación, desertificación, combustibles fósiles y el consumo desenfrenado, tanto por las poblaciones de las sociedades industrializadas como por las élites acomodadas de los países pobres.

Los desastres naturales nos imponen, pues, serias exigencias morales. De una parte, nos llaman a trabajar en favor de la justicia social, tanto en el interior de cada uno de nuestros países como –en tiempos de la globalización- en el plano cosmopolita. Pero también nos convocan a la responsabilidad eclesiológica y a la austeridad en el consumo, haciéndonos eco de las enseñanzas del Papa Francisco sobre el cuidado de la casa común (Laudato Si, véanse, sobre todo, el número 34 y los números 203-208) y la superación de la cultura del descarte. En resumen: los teólogos moralistas no podemos seguir dejando los desastres fuera de nuestra agenda de trabajo. Representan uno de los grandes retos morales en estos albores del siglo XXI.


Bibliografía para empezar

Francisco, Carta encíclica Laudato Si, Roma, 24 de mayo de 2015. Link:

Geale S. K, The Ethics of Disaster Management: Disaster Prevention and Management 21 (2012) 445-462.

Wisner B. et al, At Risk. Natural Hazards, People´s Vulnerabilities and Disasters, London, Routledge, 2004, 2nd edition.

Zack N., Ethics for Disasters, Lahham, Rowman & Littlefield,2009.

Response to Trump’s view of Africa and Haiti

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Peter Knox |

Response to Trump’s view of Africa and Haiti

Loathe as I am to give any airtime to the president of the United States of America, and his views about anything, I have been struck by many reactions to his characterisation of the home of 1.285 billion people as “#$%^hole countries.” About 16,79% of the population of the world live in these stinking countries.

The reactions have been various: Some newspapers expressed various opinions about the president’s qualification to judge an entire continent. Others reported the diplomatic and political fallout of the unfortunate comments. Up to the point where the president wrote a conciliatory letter to the meeting of the heads of states of the African Union expressing his profound respect for Africa and its inhabitants. Sober columnists wonder how the president knows so much about our countries. Is it just because the majority of the population is black, that it is possible to make such informed judgments? And if so, doesn’t this smack of racism or prejudice?

Reactions on social media are more diverse: I remember a young Nigerian candidly admitting that our countries have serious challenges, but announcing his best intentions to return from the USA where he is currently studying, to tackle some of the problems. He decries his compatriots who have left the country and from abroad hark on about its many challenges. He wonders why so many Africans risk their lives in perilous attempts at emigration, and end up dying as they cross seas or deserts. He considers both the push and the pull factors, and the gradual diminishment of the more capable residents of the continent.

Another equally patriotic social media commentator lambastes this young man for even acknowledging in public the difficulties that Africa faces. He prefers to concentrate, rather, on the glories of the continent, its historic achievements, and contributions to world culture. He condemns the slave trade and the colonial era that for centuries disrupted any progress or stability on the continent. Unfortunately, the wounds of the past cannot be undone. 

Another social media commentator of a more linguistic bent analyses the term used by the president and concludes that it makes no sense. 

The residents of Namibia, who had already been at the mercy of the president’s geographical education, invited people from around the world to come and visit their country with its “#$%^hole” deserts, canyons, nature reserves, and peoples. They were using humour to deal with the insult.

Obviously, the president’s pronouncement (later denied) touched a raw nerve among my co-continentals. With characteristic lack of PC-ness the president aired a perception that many people harbour about Africa and Haiti, a perception that embarrasses us. We acknowledge that we do not rejoice in the same levels of development, infrastructure, governance and education as many other countries. Our continent is rich in human and natural resources, and we have elevated to an ideology our particular philosophy of the human person called ‘ubuntu.’ Pope Benedict somewhat naïvely called Africa the ‘spiritual lung’ of the world. While this might be patronising on one extreme, the characterisation given by the president on the other extreme was even more hurtful.

Without denying the shortcomings of our continent, or justifying them in the light of our common history, what is more important than the hurt or damage to pride, is the truth that our continent is more and more marginal. It is seen as a stockpile of natural resources, ready for plunder. It is experiencing a new colonialism – this time from the East – which like the previous colonialism was not motivated by philanthropy. Hearing the occasional outside opinion – as coarsely expressed as it was – should galvanise our efforts to clean up our act on a continental scale and resist insult and pillage from any side.

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