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

Ante nuevos “vientos de doctrina”, el lenguaje de los gestos

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Anibal Torres |
“Pero ¿qué significa una tentación? Habitualmente, ella pretende desviar al hombre de su deber; pero aquí la tentación es la misma moral, obcecada en impedirle a Abraham cumplir con la divina voluntad. ¿Qué significa, entonces, el deber? El modo de expresión de la voluntad de Dios (…) Abraham se niega a la mediación; en otras palabras, no puede hablar (…) De este modo, no miente, porque en virtud de lo absurdo es posible que Dios haga cualquier otra cosa (…) pero tampoco dice nada,
porque habla una lengua extraña”
(S. Kierkegaard) 
“(…) por ser de Cristo [ustedes] son la descendencia de Abraham”
(Gál 3,29)


La profunda reflexión de Kierkegaard sobre el relato bíblico del sacrificio de Isaac (Gén 22), desplegada en su célebre “Temor y temblor” (1843),  nos permite comprender algunos rasgos del actual cambio de época. Más aún, contribuye al discernimiento personal, comunitario e institucional sobre las formas en las cuales puede darse el compromiso histórico de los cristianos en solidaridad con la humanidad, sabiéndose al mismo tiempo signo de contradicción para la mentalidad dominante. Se perfilan así dos interrogantes: ¿Qué sucede cuando el “sentido común” - que puede coincidir con la llamada “ética laica”- se configura como una “tentación” para los cristianos?  Frente a esta situación, ¿qué camino debería seguir la Iglesia?

Los “vientos de doctrina”

Tales preguntas resultan pertinentes al reparar en los modos en que se plantean y desarrollan los debates sobre algunas cuestiones particularmente polémicas (desde el aborto y la eutanasia, hasta la moral en la política, la economía y las relaciones internacionales), donde se manifiesta una dificultad de las confesiones religiosas en general y de la Iglesia en particular (dado el reconocimiento internacional a su capacidad de representación), para entrar en diálogo con otros sectores de la sociedad, debido en parte a la “crisis del lenguaje religioso” que ya observara Michel de Certeau (1969). Ciertamente no se puede generalizar, pues cada contexto tiene sus particularidades, pero a nadie escapa que tal fenómeno se da incluso en países donde el catolicismo tiene una presencia mayoritaria desde hace siglos.

Aun en tales sociedades, hay actores que, por un lado, postulan que las creencias religiosas no tienen nada que aportar al debate público democrático, que las discusiones sobre la legislación deben ser según la rígida separación entre el Estado y las religiones. Desde estas posiciones, incluso se suele criticar la expresión pública de los creyentes y sus instituciones y comunidades. Cuando no se suelta la burla, en el mejor de los casos se dice que los principios que mueven a los creyentes son muy respetables, pero que es mejor que se los reserven para el ámbito privado. Reviviendo la creencia en el progreso indetenible, se usan metáforas descalificadoras del tipo “tales posiciones atrasan” (porque siempre es más fácil ver a los otros inmersos en sus círculos hermenéuticos antes que reconocerse a sí mismo inmerso en un particular horizonte de comprensión).  De ahí que no sea raro que se exponga como modelo a seguir el laicismo, desconociendo las tensiones y revisiones que atraviesa en contextos como el francés, pese a que desde fuera sigue siendo levantado como el paradigma para tener a raya a las cosmovisiones religiosas[1].

Que tales opiniones originalmente fueran minoritarias, no quiere decir que sean irrelevantes, pues desde diferentes ámbitos –particularmente con la ayuda de los medios de comunicación- se ha ido instalado una suerte de “sentido común” donde se acepta que, en última instancia, cada uno se funda a sí mismo, en tanto ser aislado, frente al ser relacional que encuentra su fundamento en el Dios Uno y Trino. Esto, evidentemente, supone una mutación cultural, en el sentido de que marca un nuevo deslizamiento sobre el rol de quién juzga nada más y nada menos que sobre la “verdad” expuesta públicamente y cómo ésta es entendida.

Así, si en el uso dominante de la palabra pública los teólogos fueron desplazados por los políticos y éstos por los científicos, a su vez éstos –al parecer- vienen siendo corridos por los medios de comunicación. Y esto porque actualmente tiene mayor capacidad de persuasión lo que expresa una figura mediática sobre tal o cual tema, que lo que pueda decir un científico de las “ciencias duras”, que a su vez influye más que un político que representa al pueblo de su Nación, y que un teólogo que enseña al pueblo de Dios. Así, a grandes rasgos, al deslizamiento de la Verdad-Persona hacia la verdad de “la patria”, le ha seguido el corrimiento hacia la verdad empírica positivista, desde la cual se ha emprendido la fuga hacia la posverdad, incluso como fake news.

Por otro lado, hay un segundo conjunto de actores que conserva capacidad de movilización; son aquellos que confesándose creyentes o viendo en las religiones un medio para el orden social, propugnan el enfrentamiento abierto con los primeros, pues perciben amenazadas sus convicciones, cuando no las “venerables” y rígidas tradiciones a las cuales se han aferrado más por el poder que emanan que por la fe que deberían custodiar y trasmitir dinámicamente. Al parecer las posiciones de este segundo grupo no constituyen actualmente el discurso hegemónico en los medios masivos, lo que no implica que aún conserven el control de ciertos resortes de poder, incluso al interior de las instituciones y comunidades religiosas.  

Llegados hasta aquí se puede advertir que la historia de Abraham y el hijo de la promesa, nos ayuda a comprender la situación de la Iglesia en el ámbito público. Ella se ve muchas veces enfrentada a este dilema: si calla y no hace nada, puede quedar a merced de quienes pretenden “ignorarla”, confinándola al ámbito privado. Si la Iglesia habla de ciertos temas en su lenguaje y medios habituales, puede quedar sujeta a quienes pretenden “instrumentalizarla” para sus propios objetivos.   

No se puede asociar rápida y linealmente quiénes pretenden acallar o utilizar políticamente la voz de la Iglesia (si “la derecha”, “la izquierda”, “los conservadores”, “los progresistas”, “los liberales”, “los populistas”, etc.), ya que en general, salvo posturas extremas, no suele haber una aceptación o un rechazo total a sus posiciones magisteriales. Así, algunos aplauden los postulados en moral social y critican los de índole sexual, y viceversa; cada uno toma y deja lo que le agrada o desagrada, propio del avance del proceso de individualización del creer. 

Lo cierto es que ceder ante unos u otros es ceder a las ideologías, a aquello que en la perspectiva paulina se denominan “vientos de doctrina” (Cf. Ef  4, 14) de cada época. En la recordada homilía preparatoria del Cónclave de 2005, señalaba el entonces Cardenal Ratzinger: “¡Cuántos vientos de doctrina hemos conocido durante estos últimos decenios!, ¡cuántas corrientes ideológicas!, ¡cuántas modas de pensamiento! La pequeña barca del pensamiento de muchos cristianos ha sido zarandeada a menudo por estas olas, llevada de un extremo al otro (…) A quien tiene una fe clara, según el Credo de la Iglesia, a menudo se le aplica la etiqueta de fundamentalismo. Mientras que el relativismo, es decir, dejarse ‘llevar a la deriva por cualquier viento de doctrina’, parece ser la única actitud adecuada en los tiempos actuales (…).

Nosotros, en cambio, tenemos otra medida: el Hijo de Dios, el hombre verdadero. Él es la medida del verdadero humanismo. No es ‘adulta’ una fe que sigue las olas de la moda y la última novedad; adulta y madura es una fe profundamente arraigada en la amistad con Cristo. Esta amistad nos abre a todo lo que es bueno y nos da el criterio para discernir entre lo verdadero y lo falso, entre el engaño y la verdad” (Ratzinger, 18/04/2005). 


El lenguaje de los gestos

Pero entonces, ¿qué hacer? ¿Cómo no ceder en la misión y al mismo tiempo no dejar a la humanidad librada a su suerte? ¿Cómo escapar a la tentación tanto del laxismo que esperan unos, como del rigorismo condenatorio que añoran otros?

Para empezar, si recuperamos algunos rasgos del análisis kierkegaardeano de la historia abrahámica –lo que en sí mismo tiene un potencial para el ecumenismo- podemos decir que aquel nos recuerda que cada cristiano y la comunidad eclesial no debe tener miedo a (re)situarse por encima del conformismo general, de la mentalidad dominante, para (re)ingresar “en una relación absoluta con lo absoluto”, tal la célebre expresión del autor danés. 

Puede decirse que la llamada de Francisco a la conversión pastoral –rasgo programático de su ministerio, junto con la opción preferencial por los pobres y excluidos- apunta a que cada cristiano y toda la Iglesia, bajo la inspiración del Espíritu Santo, “hablen” en otra lengua: el lenguaje de los gestos (¡más que los documentos!). El propio Papa es un signo elocuente de ese cambio, plasmando con su impronta un nuevo tipo de liderazgo, reconocido a nivel mundial. La conversión, en tanto proceso de cambio personal comunitario e institucional, purifica el discernimiento de los signos de los tiempos negativos y positivos, y así dispone mejor para la misión: “Sueño con una opción misionera capaz de transformarlo todo, para que las costumbres, los estilos, los horarios, el lenguaje y toda estructura eclesial se convierta en un cauce adecuado para la evangelización del mundo actual más que para la autopreservación” (Evangelii gaudium, nº 27).

Más específicamente, a nivel personal, Francisco señala de manera contundente: “Estamos llamados a formar las conciencias, pero no a pretender sustituirlas”, poniendo el énfasis en el “discernimiento” de cada situación antes que en la aplicación irrestricta de manuales o códigos de conducta (Amoris Laetitia, nº 37, 296 y sig.). También, el Papa propone un salto cualitativo y cuantitativo al apuntar a una “conversión ecológica”, frente a la “cultura del relativismo” (y su “antropocentrismo desviado”), la “globalización del paradigma tecnocrático”  (que es “homogéneo y unidimensional”) y la “adoración del poder humano sin límites” (Laudato si’, nº 106, 217-218, 122-123).

Estos son los supuestos para poder entrar en diálogo con sectores diversos, con los “hermanos enigmáticos” de los que hablaba de Certeau (1969), en relación con las cuestiones candentes que atraviesan muchas sociedades postseculares y democráticas. Por eso resulta central el señalamiento, sumamente trascendente para la ética social católica, del principio según el cual “la unidad es superior al conflicto”. El camino sugerido no es la intransigencia que va al choque porque ve amenaza a los privilegios, ni la condescendencia irresponsable con corrientes de moda, sino una muy similar a lo que señalaba Kierkegaard respecto a Abraham: obrar a partir de levantar la mirada por sobre la ética de la mentalidad hegemónica, para recibir la “sabiduría que viene de arriba” (Stgo 3,18), aunque, como para el patriarca, el proceso resulte angustioso, sufrido:

“Ante el conflicto, algunos simplemente lo miran y siguen adelante como si nada pasara, se lavan las manos para poder continuar con su vida. Otros entran de tal manera en el conflicto que quedan prisioneros, pierden horizontes, proyectan en las instituciones las propias confusiones e insatisfacciones y así la unidad se vuelve imposible. Pero hay una tercera manera, la más adecuada, de situarse ante el conflicto. Es aceptar sufrir el conflicto, resolverlo y transformarlo en el eslabón de un nuevo proceso. ‘¡Felices los que trabajan por la paz!’ (Mt 5,9). De este modo, se hace posible desarrollar una comunión en las diferencias, que sólo pueden facilitar esas grandes personas que se animan a ir más allá de la superficie conflictiva y miran a los demás en su dignidad más profunda. Por eso hace falta postular un principio que es indispensable para construir la amistad social: la unidad es superior al conflicto. La solidaridad, entendida en su sentido más hondo y desafiante, se convierte así en un modo de hacer la historia, en un ámbito viviente donde los conflictos, las tensiones y los opuestos pueden alcanzar una unidad pluriforme que engendra nueva vida. No es apostar por un sincretismo ni por la absorción de uno en el otro, sino por la resolución en un plano superior que conserva en sí las virtualidades valiosas de las polaridades en pugna” (Evangelii gaudium, 227 y 228).

Estas indicaciones del magisterio de Francisco apuntan a que la Iglesia debe ahondar su conversión pastoral si quiere encontrar alguna forma de articulación posible y virtuosa entre la ética religiosa y la ética laica, erigiendo la comunión en las diferencias desde una purificación mutua. No se trata de ceder a las ideologías (asociadas en el lenguaje ignaciano con la “mundanidad”), sino de  saber discernir lo que puede haber de legítimo en las demandas, proceso que se realiza estando fundados en la “amistad con Cristo” (Ratzinger, 18/04/2005).

Más allá de los discursos y documentos, es necesario entonces que toda la Iglesia, cada comunidad y cada uno haga resplandecer con gestos concretos de projimidad el cristianismo de la libertad, de la luz y de la alegría, poniendo en el centro la opción preferencial por los pobres y las obras de misericordia, revalorizadas por el actual pontificado. Esa praxis del “amor civil y político”, del “amor social” (Laudato si’ nº 231) demanda ser “artesanos de la paz” (Stgo 3,18), siendo “testigos” de la verdad de la Resurrección del Señor y de una “promesa” que es para todos (Cf. He 1, 22; 2, 39).

Sólo desde la apertura sincera a la conversión según la voluntad de Dios, se puede pedir el auxilio de Su luz. Como expresara un infatigable testigo de la fe en América, un auténtico obrero de la paz y del amor social: “He sentido profundamente la diferencia de pensar entre un numeroso sector de nuestra patria (…) y el sentir cristiano. Pido al Señor que ilumine los caminos de su Iglesia para que sean comprendidos…” (Mons. Óscar Romero, Diario personal, 26/03/1979).

[1] Según el debate reabierto en Francia sobre todo a partir del discurso del presidente Emmanuel Macron ante los obispos católicos del país en abril de 2018. En septiembre del año pasado hizo lo propio ante autoridades protestantes. Macron, según la prensa, ante el Episcopado “elogió la dedicación de los católicos franceses a la ayuda a los más necesitados y les animó a ‘hacer más todavía’ implicándose en la política. ‘Por muy decepcionante que pueda ser para algunos, por muy árida que a veces sea para otros, necesita la energía de los comprometidos, vuestra energía’. Al mismo tiempo, esbozó una teoría de laicidad que sirve para otras religiones, no sólo la católica, chocó con las lecturas más estrictas de la ley de 1905, y convocó para algunos el fantasma de una apertura de la República al islam (…) La laicidad de Macron se inspira en la de uno de sus maestros, el filósofo protestante Paul Ricoeur. Ricoeur abogaba por una ‘laicidad de apertura’, en la que la neutralidad religiosa del Estado no fuese un obstáculo para la expresión, en convivencia o tensión, de la espiritualidad de sus ciudadanos. Lo contrario de esta laicidad abierta sería lo que Macron llamaba, en una entrevista en 2016, el laicismo, ‘una versión radical y extrema de la laicidad que se nutre de los miedos contemporáneos’. ‘Hay que preservar como un tesoro la concepción liberal de la laicidad que ha permitido en este país que cada uno tenga derecho a creer o a no creer...’ ” Fuente:



Breaking the Nyaope addiction in South Africa: Is it possible?

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Margaret Ssebunya |

Nyaope is a very popular highly addictive, dangerous and destructive drug substance that is unique to South Africa. It is usually a cocktail of various ingredients i.e. heroin, methamphetamine and cannabis with other harmful substances such as cleaning detergents, bicarbonate of soda, crushed antiretroviral drugs, sugar and rat poison to make its impact stronger and last longer. Nyaope is believed to be South Africa’s worst drug[1] whose uniqueness lies in an almost exclusive consumption by black people. The extent of nyaope addiction is quite complex as it is easily accessible by almost anyone including primary school children. It costs between R25 (US$2.00) and R30 (US$2.25). However, while the price of buying nyaope is low, the social cost paid by the users, their families and their communities is very high, due to the severity of the addiction and the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms.[2]

The drug is mainly consumed in two ways - smoking and via ‘Bluetooth.’ The ‘Bluetooth’ method involves addicts sharing the drug through either a) through blood transfusion or b) sharing the same syringe as the drug is injected directly into the body. In the first option, after the primary consumer has injected him/herself with the drug, blood (supposedly believed to be high in nyaope) is drawn from him/her and is given to other addicts who take turns to inject themselves so that they also get ‘high.’ In most cases the addicts who rely on the blood of the first user usually have no money to buy their own nyaope concoction. The addicts defend themselves with the popular saying that “sharing is caring.” In the second option the addict mixes the concoction with a small amount of water and pulls it into a syringe injecting him/herself. The same syringe is then passed on to other addicts who repeatedly use it. Using the ‘Bluetooth’ method is believed to be the quickest way to get ‘high.’ The addicts seem not to care that the use of the nyaope concoction, and worse still the sharing of syringes and blood, has got a number of health implications, such as blood mismatch and incompatibility, diseases like hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, cellulitis and thrombophlebitis, as well as harm to vital body organs such as the liver, heart, kidneys and the brain.

By law, nyaope is prohibited and punishable yet despite this, it continues to be the leading ‘drug of choice’ for many unemployed South African youths living in the townships. Mitigation efforts by the South African government have not yielded much results. In some cases, the very officers who arrest and detain the addicts are the ones who are bribed to release the addicts, or carry the drugs to prison. The local communities have also not adequately mobilized themselves to address the consumption of nyaope despite government’s efforts to localize the fight against use of illicit drugs. Rather, addicts are blamed for living a chaotic life. One wonders whether the consumption of nyaope can be broken given the dramatic increase in its consumption.

Who has the duty to address this social problem that is claiming lives of youths every day? Is it entirely to government? What is the role of other actors such as the church, civil society, individuals, family and the local communities in addressing the nyaope crisis? Do we have any moral and social responsibility towards addicts who very often are labelled with derogatory names such as ‘dirty,’ ‘criminals,’ ‘messed up’ and ‘unworthy’ members in society? How can we as ethicists continuously engage leadership and policy in order to effect desirable change within society? How can we help victims to escape nyaope dependence? How can we offer victims of nyaope and other drugs the human values of love and life illuminated by faith? How can the Church promote a lifestyle based on evangelical values and contact with God, especially among the youth to help them discover the true meaning of human existence?

Pope Francis has emphasized the role of society is responding to the drug crisis. For instance during the visit to St. Francis of Assisi of the Providence of God Hospital in Rio de Janeiro in July 2013, Pope Francis noted that “it is necessary to confront the problems underlying the use of these drugs, by promoting greater justice, educating young people in the values that build up life in society, accompanying those in difficulty and giving them hope for the future. We all need to look upon one another with the loving eyes of Christ, and to learn to embrace those in need, in order to show our closeness, affection and love.”[3] Genuine love, care and affection towards the victims of drug use would mean that we move beyond blaming and criminalizing them. It would also mean continuously investing resources in extensive rehabilitation programs of drug addicts in order to promote their health as well as restore their joy and dignity. I believe that by drawing close and embracing our neighbors we can manage to escape the powerful waters that drown so many youths in the vice.

[1] Health24. (2014). Is nyaope South Africa's worst drug? Accessed from

[2] Masombuka, J. (2013). Children's addiction to the drug “nyaope” in Soshanguve Township: Parents' experiences and support needs. Masters dissertation. University of South Africa.


Raising Consciousness and Forming Consciences: Strategic Disruptive Nonviolence

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

The Spirit is moving across the US, and throughout the globe, with prompts to respond to calls for inclusive justice revealed in the initiatives of Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, LGBTQ+, Sanctuary-Refugee-Asylum Seekers, and Sustainability movements. On many high school, college, and university campuses, these movements’ grass root activists –among them Catholics inspired by our tradition’s social teaching regarding human dignity, solidarity, participation, and the common good—persevere with a decidedly preferential option for those who have long been on the receiving end of unjust exclusivist policies and practices. This wellspring of critical consciousness and courageous conscientious action has the potential to change hearts hardened against others (possibly siblings, parents, children, other family members, friends, neighbors, students, colleagues, and as yet unknown acquaintances and passersby) to incarnate communities recognizable by the Spirit’s compassionate abiding love.

            The North American Forum authors have pointed to these activist movements and other issue-inspired initiatives like them (e.g., responding to the opioid crisis, gun violence, nuclear weapons, attacks on civilians, Confederate war memorials) trying to find the argument(s) best suited to challenge the incomprehensibility and intractability of these goings on and of the persistence of complacent and complicit fear-inspired hatefulness. Beyond North American borders and since the inception of the Forum in July 2011, nearly every Forum essay of The FIRST exposes similar failures in our CTEWC respective contexts. Aware of these failures and moved by the Spirit to confront and transform them (to turn swords into plowshares and vice into virtue), we name both overt and subtle forms of violence as injustice against the people and the planet, both in dire need of assurances and concomitant action that maintains the dicta all are welcome, all will have their fill, and all manner of things will be well.

            I am hopeful in these tumultuous and unstable times that the initiatives of strategic disruptive nonviolence can win despite 24-hour newsfeeds and social media that defy logic in their power to cloak abusive commercial and political power, military and law enforcement recklessness, and unexamined (mostly) white (mostly) male privilege. One of these strategic disruptive nonviolence initiatives is “sanctuary” or the right of vulnerable persons to refuge. Sanctuary initiatives –from campuses to cities to houses of worship—have an historic home in the biblical and Church traditions of asylum. Asylum space included the tent, tabernacle, holy of holies, place of sacrifice/sacrament where God is present and the people safe in God’s refuge. The Church continued the tradition through protective custody of even presumed capital criminals with developments in ecclesiastic law from the Decretum of Gratian, congregational and curial norms, to recognition of organizational needs identified at the Council of Trent, including the right to sanctuary/refuge, which was promulgated in the 1917 Canon Law, c.1022 (though abrogated by the revised Code of 1983).

A good deal of US saber-rattling these days is directed toward Sanctuary cities and the people fleeing conditions in their homelands worse than what awaits them in encounters with the US Border Patrol and/or Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The most recent statistics (2016) collected by the UN High Commission for Refugees indicate that a mere 1.2% (¡815,608!) of the 67.7 million women, men, and children on the move –refugee/asylum seekers/displaced persons/stateless persons/persons of concern—are hosted in the United States. This minimally hospitable response to the global refugee crisis is embarrassing in a land as expansive, bountiful, and diverse in its peoples and its natural resources as the US. However, add the US government’s rhetoric about those seeking refuge, rhetoric that depicts our sisters and brothers in less than dignified and increasingly Spirit-insulting ways, and the reasons for that embarrassment become sinful. When this embarrassing failure is named sin some will be moved to shame and will admit perplexed astonishment at the scandalizing proportions of critical need. In place of despair, some will rise to consciousness about responsibilities for one another’s well being, to conscience engaging solidarity with and participation in strategic disruptive nonviolence with those asking for respite and for sanctuary.

Although Canon Law no longer includes the right to sanctuary/asylum/refuge, the Spirit appears to approve the practice considering that Catholic sponsored institutions, parishes, and religious communities do offer disruptive assistance that includes the sanctuary of shelter. In addition to Church folk, the Spirit moves others as well, considering what Peter L. Merkowitz opines in the New York Times is legal precedent for local law enforcement “to do nothing” that would assist federal immigration enforcement efforts to arrest and deport people without papers. Sanctuary efforts in this vein disrupt the Federal order of isolationist and fear-mongering business with local non-violent, strategic, subversively inspired non-cooperation.

The Spirit is moving. Her winds are howling in some corners and whispering elsewhere but winding their way nevertheless as “the divine force that changes the world” (Pope Francis, Pentecost, 20 May 2018). In collaboration with the Spirit, some days we follow her lead with outward gestures and disruptive collectivist civil action. Other days we work behind the scenes with disruptive and life-giving social action in safe houses, food banks, and service programs. And still other days we labor with disruptive scholarship activism. This activism brings the weight of Scripture, theological reflection, and Catholic Social Teaching to our failures of inclusive justice. And this activism can expose the sins against the Spirit, the divine force who abides in all including those whose humanity is compromised by another’s avarice and bigotry, and who grieves for the sins committed against them. The Spirit is speaking in this activism. Are we hearing and heeding the force of change that howls and whispers support those bent low with dignity, hope, and material comfort?

As I finish this essay, newspapers, broadcast news, and social media are abuzz about the latest in a series of US-Mexico border tragedies surrounding refuge/asylum seekers. The Office of Refugee Resettlement is uncertain vis-à-vis the whereabouts of 1,475 children taken into protective custody with sponsors; other child-related practices concern the immediate separation of babies and young children from their parents with assumptions of unlawful crossing and expectations of prosecution by the Department of Justice. UNICEF estimates 26,000 children were apprehended at the US-Mexico border in just the first six months of 2016, sadly, more sinfulness to be confessed and repaired by strategic disruptive nonviolent activism.

Gaudete et Exsultate and the Unfinished Agenda of Vatican II

1 Comment(s) | Posted | by Agnes M. Brazal |

One of the unfinished agenda of the Second Vatican Council is the democratization of holiness.

In Lumen Gentium – a compromise document – there remains, as the late Sr. Anne Patrick had
pointed out, the tension between a two-tiered and a more egalitarian unified approach to holiness.
While LG 11 affirms the universal call to holiness, LG 42 undermines this with statements on
how persons with the gift of celibacy “can more easily devote their entire selves to God alone
with undivided heart”and with their vow of poverty, they “more closely follow and more clearly
demonstrate the Savior’s self-giving” and through the renunciation of their will, they “liken
themselves more thoroughly to Christ in His obedience.” In his recently released apostolic
exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, Pope Francis intends to “repropose” the call to holiness in our
times. My focus in this brief discourse is to analyze the extent Gaudete has addressed the
unfinished agenda of Vatican II toward a more unified approach to holiness.
Gaudete et Exsultate seems to have gone beyond the two-tiered view of holiness, that is
based on dualism and subordination (i.e. of earthly values to heavenly values; of action to
prayer), that enables the clergy and religious to lead “holier” lives. Pope Francis, in GE 14
qualifies that “To be holy does not require being a bishop, a priest or a religious.” The day-today
concerns of lay people are not “distractions” to holiness. One does not need to flee from ordinary
concerns to be able to pray more (GE 27). “We are all called to be holy by living our lives with
love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves.” This is reinforced
in GE 26 that states, “We are called to be contemplatives even in the midst of action…”
The two-tiered approach to holiness tends to narrow as well the moral life to matters of
sexuality. Chastity – understood as abstinence from all nonmarital sexual thoughts and actions –
was considered as the pinnacle of perfection. In sexual sins there is no smallness of matter. It is
thus noteworthy that there is no mention, not even once of the virtue of chastity in the Papal
In contrast, the virtue of justice was referred to 21 times and mercy 23 times in the
apostolic exhortation. Noting the danger of a very broad definition that identifies justice to
“faithfulness to God’s will in every aspect of life,” the Pope adopts instead a liberationist
definition that links it to a preferential option for the poor: “ [I]f we give the word too general a
meaning, we forget that it is shown especially in justice towards those who are most vulnerable:
“Seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Is 1:17). (GE 79)
Pope Francis cautioned against two “ideologies striking at the heart of the gospel.” On
the one hand, are those whose social engagement are stripped of a personal relationship with
God. On the other hand, are those “who find suspect the social engagement of others, seeing it as
superficial, worldly, secular, materialist, communist or populist.” (GE 101) In an indirect critique
of groups, also present in the Philippines, who are focused only on a single issue – oftentimes
against artificial contraception or abortion – while ignoring other issues that “kill” such as
corruption, poverty, and other forms of injustice, the Pope noted how for them “the only thing
that counts is one particular ethical issue or cause that they themselves defend.”

In a seeming response as well to critics of Amoris Laetitia’s focus on mercy, the Pope
warns of new forms of elitism or hierarchical thinking fostered by false forms of holiness: a
gnosticism or intellectualism that is bereft of mercy (GE 37) and a Pelagianism or a rigid
orthodoxy devoid of a need for God’s grace and of love (GE 57-59).
Significant too in its thrust toward democratizing holiness is the exhortation’s recognition
of models of holiness from other faiths (GE 9): “But even outside the Catholic Church and in
very different contexts, the Holy Spirit raises up ’signs of his presence which help Christ’s
Yet, despite the movement in this document toward a more egalitarian unified approach,
it retains traces of a tiered view of holiness. While it recognizes the holiness of the “saints next
door” such as the sacrifices of parents to raise and support their families, calling these faith
responses as “the middle class of holiness” (GE 7) reeks of hierarchical thinking, implying an
upper and a lower class of holiness. Furthermore, the models of holiness mentioned in the
apostolic exhortation are also overwhelmingly priests and/or religious. Except for Mary and
Joseph, Monica, and Thomas More, the rest of the lay saints fall under “companions,” “martyrs,”
and “saints next door.”
The reference to a feminine style of holiness is likewise confounding. It is as abstract as
the term “feminine genius”! The exhortation cites as example women saints who engaged in
church reform implicitly suggesting that those who intend to do so must employ a “feminine
style.” It is not clear though how the saints mentioned exhibited a distinct feminine genius. On
the one hand, if femininity is the “capacity for the other,” then everyone is called to manifest
this. As the CDF, in the document “On the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and
in the World,” underlined: “But in the final analysis, every human being, man or woman, is
destined to be for the other.” (14) On the other hand, if there is indeed a feminine style, why is
there no reference at all to a corollary masculine style of holiness?
A two-tiered holiness that is gender-based is also implicit in Pope Francis’ stronger
identification of gossiping with women (GE 16). For the Pope, gossiping is a form of
“terrorism,” one of the “worst enemies of harmony,” that threatens to destroy the Church from
within. In his audience with nuns in Lima, Peru, he even compared, albeit jokingly, gossiping
nuns with terrorists!
Overall, in terms of numerical representation, the apostolic exhortation named 13
individual women saints/blessed (mentioned a total of 16 times) compared to 22 individual men
(mentioned a total of 41 times), thus continuing to reflect the largely gendered modeling of
holiness within the Catholic church.
Indeed, we find in Gaudete et Exsultate elements of a movement forward toward an
egalitarian and unified approach to holiness…though this still remains wanting in other respects!

De la Salle University Manila, Philippines

Opioid Addiction: A National Crisis in Slow Motion

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Thomas Massaro |

How is it possible that a cataclysmic public health crisis which takes the lives of over 42,000 Americans and incurs economic costs of a half-trillion dollars each year so rarely garners a front-page headline? Maybe it is a function of “attention fatigue”—the mental overload felt by millions in these anything-but-normal times in North America circa 2018—or “not my problem.” But even as numerous troubling events (school shootings, revelations of police brutality, sexual predation, and the ethically troubling Trump missives) compete for every last ounce of the public’s concern, there is no satisfying explanation for why the opioid crisis gets lost in the shuffle.

Our nation’s response to an unprecedented spike in deaths caused by addictive painkillers has been both feeble and immoral. The crisis has so far sparked no large-scale social movement akin to Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, or March for Our Lives. While it is heartening to witness the upsurge in public support for people disadvantaged on account of gender, race and immigration status, perhaps we need a reminder that those suffering addiction also routinely encounter life-threatening experiences—the ultimate deficit of privilege. Ethicists may have much to say about the deep-seated reasons why the suffering of this particular group is grossly overlooked. However, the missed opportunities to address the symptoms and deep causes of the crisis reflect poorly on the ability of the American people to move beyond the familiar “blame-the-victim” responses and to mobilize public support for the resources to change the narrative and save lives.

But the first step on the path to effective action is simply to notice the elephant in the room. The lives of people addicted to heroin and other opium derivatives are chaotic and ugly; the easy thing to do is to avert our eyes and distance ourselves, as individuals, as congregations and as members of a polity. Occasional media coverage may force us to take notice of the “crisis in slow motion” unfolding in our midst. An outstanding example of such coverage is the March 5, 2018 issue of Time magazine. With not a single advertisement or ordinary department, this issue consists solely of a feature entitled “The Opioid Diaries.” This contribution of noted photojournalist James Nachtwey portrays vividly the squalor, agony and frequent violence associated with opioid addiction, all the more stark for the candidness of its close-ups in black-and-white. What Nachtwey offers in these pages is the chilling desperation of those who are addicted and the exasperation of first responders and law enforcement as they struggle to assist (and sometimes to restrain) the afflicted, often as they writhe in pain in beds, on floors of bathrooms or on parking lot blacktop. What we don’t see are the systemic causes of opioid abuse, such as legal over-prescription and distribution of opioids by irresponsible pharmaceutical companies and criminally in black markets at unprecedented levels. Disturbing as it is, the photo spread (and deliberately minimal accompanying commentary) is a tribute to the power of photojournalism (like art in general) to move us—at least to new individual appreciations of grim social realities and hopefully to collective action to halt the crisis. A letter to the editor of Time that appeared in the next (March 19) edition captured my own sentiment in saying simply: “Thank you for waking me up.”

The photo essay moves us to embrace the universal duty to look a deep social problem in the eye and take seriously the suffering of our neighbors whose lives have spiraled out of control. What ethicists are especially obligated and particularly well-positioned to do is to hold us all accountable to the standards of social responsibility. How may policymakers as well as ordinary citizens better match our actions to the values that guide us? What words and gestures can we ethicists employ to stir up the resolve that will effect needed changes in laws and practices to open up alternatives to the trap of opioid addiction?

Raising the public profile of this pressing issue is a necessary start, but merely calling attention to the problem is not sufficient. Human nature is such that shock soon fades and outrage fizzles amidst the rush of daily events that compete for our attention. The challenge for us is to find ways to sustain public energy and commitment after the shock of the staggering scale of this human tragedy in our midst has worn off. The challenge of fashioning an adequate response to this suffering includes a methodical application of resolve even as the news becomes a regular drumbeat rather than a startling trumpet blast.

In short, a problem as huge and profound as the opioid crisis requires a large-scale social response—a movement strong enough to organize and mobilize the public to halt the mounting death toll, approaching 100 victims each day (about the same as the daily body count from gun violence in the U.S.). Only genuine social movements have the power to turn shock and anger into hope and a constructive agenda for sustainable change. Organized responses so far constitute a tale of missed opportunities, including recent government studies and commissions that seem to go nowhere. Add to the woeful mix the recent Trump administration opioid plan that mixes outrageous posturing (a proposal to execute drug dealers) with a string of familiar platitudes, but ultimately pledges laughably few resources to programs for effective prevention and recovery. Real improvement will have to get beyond past approaches that tend to blame the afflicted, not to mention criminalizing and incarcerating them. Lasting change will require sustained investment in resources to counter the opioid epidemic, such as building up the capacity of treatment facilities and a more comprehensive system of therapeutic and social services adequate to the immense scale of the problem.

After the school shootings in Parkland, Florida, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had every reason to feel immobilized and to shrink from the newsfeeds of the public eye to mourn their dead and wounded. To their everlasting credit, these courageous teenagers did the opposite by seeking out public attention to publicize the need for reform of laws and attitudes regarding gun violence and its causes. They received a remarkable public hearing because they possessed the authority that naturally attaches to those who suffer—they knew what they were talking about as few others could (or would ever so desire). Ideally, opioid sufferers would someday address the public in a similar way with their own stories of pain and ardent hope for reform. But until they do, those of us who have escaped the lethal grasp of addiction should step up and point out just as courageously how the suffering of our neighbors levies an obligation on each of us to face the problem head-on. Notice how the interplay of power and powerlessness (real and perceived) controls the narrative of desert and blame in this urgent social and public health issue—one which will require the wisdom, imagination, and collaborative commitment of all if improvement is to come.

Life in India: Spaces Destroyed and Processes Disrupted

1 Comment(s) | Posted | by Stanislaus Alla |

Pope Francis made the imagery of ‘Spaces’ and ‘Processes’ popular by referring to it on many occasions – be it in his official writings or through the informal speeches. Explaining it the Pope suggests that it is far more important to initiate processes than merely occupy the spaces. For instance, it is critically important to have a dedicated visionary leader – heading the nation – at a particular point for time, but it is more important for that country to have a mechanism in place, like a vibrant and participatory democracy. It takes time to initiate the processes but their impact could be relatively more durable.


Now, India is at a crossroads!


At various levels – socio-political, economic, cultural and religious levels – the idea of India (the foundational values and principles it stood for) is being systematically compromised, questioned and destroyed. The speed and intensity with which it is happening is shocking all those who are aware of it. For the record, the many ills that have been paralyzing India for decades and centuries have not disappeared in any significant way: massive poverty, patriarchy, caste-discrimination, poor health indicators etc. still stare at us, despite a measure of phenomenal growth in some sectors. Surely, India faced many challenges and it will continue to face them but there is a dramatic shift in viewing and attending to them. Some years ago, there were fears that the nation that we dreamt or strove for is changing. Now, some declare that India has changed forever!  


By and large, what occupies the columns in the print media and bites in the electronic media are ‘space’ related ones – and, even here, many of them simply toe the official line out of fear. The concerns are important and they deserve to be highlighted. The rape and torture and killing of the children and teenagers have shocked the conscience of the nation and there have been protests across the country (Being in Mumbai then, I was able to participate in a protest-march there). Farmers protests across the country are far from over and some farmers, in desperation, sadly decide to end their lives. On the economic front, Demonetizing process, new taxation policies (GST) ad continual rise in fuel prices have made life unbearable for the poor and the middle classes. The Hindutva forces have become a law unto themselves. Related and unrelated to the elections, many Dalit youth have been beaten to death because they were allegedly caught by the cow vigilantes transporting or killing the cows. A blind Muslim beggar was asked to say ‘praises’ to a Hindu god. Ironically, all such episodes of violence and torture are being recorded by the cameras, with a view to circulate them through social media, to further terrorize the religious and social minorities. Too many grave concerns numb the nation and people simply do not seem to know where to begin with.


What is happening to the country at the level of ‘processes’ worries some and it should leave more of us worried! It took a long time for us to be where we have been, and hopefully where we still are. Apart from the many saints and prophets, mystics and martyrs, Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, Rabindranath Tagore and Ambedkar, and countless freedom fighters – men and women – gave a direction to who we will have to be, as a people and as a nation. Attempts to erase our history and diversity have been contained. They drafted a magnificent Constitution that was destined to ensure dignity and equality, rights and freedoms to all peoples of this ancient land. A culture of debates and discussions in the parliament and outside of it envisaged that truth alone should triumph and not falsehood. People of all religions and languages, terrains and cultures were expected to study together and grow up together. These foundational principles and values – at times some took for granted – are at stake now. Even if takes time, ‘spaces’ can be rebuilt, but it takes longer time to reignite the processes. To infuse confidence into people -in themselves, in neighbors and the ‘others’ is harder.

Despenalización del Aborto en Argentina: el debate que nadie esperaba

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Pablo A. Blanco |

El presente artículo pretende enmarcar la discusión sobre la despenalización del aborto en el contexto de la iniciativa del gobierno que instaló el tema sorpresivamente en la agenda política de la Argentina, dar cuenta de los actores que intervienen y de los principales argumentos a favor y en contra, y por último mostrar la pluralidad de voces que se han manifestado contra la despenalización.

A partir de la decisión del presidente Macri de habilitar la discusión parlamentaria sobre la despenalización del aborto[1] - también referida como despenalización de la “interrupción voluntaria del embarazo” - se ha formalizado y oficializado en la Argentina el debate sobre esta cuestión.

Se ha formalizado porque se ha abierto la discusión pública sobre un tema que no es nuevo ni en la Argentina ni en el mundo. En nuestro país el proyecto de ley de “Interrupción Voluntaria del Embarazo” (IVE) fue presentado en seis ocasiones anteriores, la última en 2016[2], pero en todas ellas perdió estado parlamentario y no alcanzó a tener tratamiento legislativo en el Congreso[3].

Se ha oficializado, porque la séptima presentación de este año 2018 coincide con esa decisión del Poder Ejecutivo de habilitar la discusión en el parlamento, y ha contado también con la presentación de otros proyectos, incluso del propio bloque oficialista.

El Presidente argentino se ha mostrado prescindente a pesar de manifestarse “a favor de la Vida”[4] y ha sugerido que el debate se dé en un marco de libertad de conciencia. Abundan las especulaciones sobre éste aparente contrasentido, y sobre la oportunidad política de impulsar éste debate. Algunos consideran que se trata de una medida de distracción frente a una situación económica y social compleja, en un escenario de inflación creciente. Otros consideran que se trata de una medida destinada a captar apoyos de sectores progresistas para ampliar la base de apoyo político del gobierno. Otros consideran que se trata de un mensaje político dirigido al Papa Francisco con relación a su supuesta intervención en la política doméstica de la Argentina.

Sea cual fuere la motivación del gobierno, en paralelo se están desarrollando a nivel de la sociedad civil intensas campañas para influir sobre el debate y los congresistas.

Desde quienes impulsan la despenalización se desarrolla la “Campaña Nacional por el Derecho al Aborto Legal, Seguro y Gratuito”, una alianza que se tejió tras los encuentros nacionales de mujeres de Rosario, en 2003, y Mendoza, en 2004, y que ha encontrado apoyos diversos en la sociedad civil, que se expresaron en el “Pañuelazo”[5] del 19 de Febrero de 2018.

Desde los sectores contrarios a la despenalización se han expresado, entre otros, la Iglesia Católica Argentina a través de su Conferencia Episcopal, obispos de distintas diócesis, el Rector de la Universidad Católica, el Departamento de Laicos, organizaciones Pro-Vida, representantes de otras iglesias y confesiones, funcionarios y también sectores no religiosos[6], entre ellos la Academia Nacional de Medicina[7].

Éste último grupo también decidió “tomar la calle” y expresarse, convocando a una multitudinaria marcha bajo el lema “Vale toda Vida”[8] el domingo 25 de Marzo, en que se celebraba el día del “Niño por Nacer” – establecido por San Juan Pablo II – y oficializado en Argentina por Decreto N° 1406 del año 1998.

Esta acción se extendió por casi 200 ciudades de la Argentina y no contó con la cobertura de los medios de información, quienes ante la magnitud de la movilización se vieron obligados a reflejarla entre sus titulares en las horas posteriores. La aparente neutralidad e indiferencia de los medios, no se condice con la amplia cobertura mediática y difusión que dan los sectores en favor de la despenalización. 

Entre la pluralidad de voces que se han expresado contra la despenalización podemos mencionar el documento emitido por la Conferencia Episcopal Argentina, de tono muy medido, y en línea con las últimas declaraciones públicas sobre el tema que ha hecho el Papa Francisco, “sé que es un drama existencial y moral”, ha dicho el Sumo Pontífice, que en el 2015 concedió a los sacerdotes del mundo la facultad de absolver el pecado del aborto.

El texto titulado “Respetuosos de la vida” además, no rehúsa que el tema se trate en el Congreso -“que este debate nos encuentre preparados para un diálogo sincero y profundo”- y hace una mención a una ley sancionada por el anterior gobierno: “Hace unos años con la sanción de la Ley ‘Asignación Universal por Hijo’, el Honorable Congreso de la Nación demostró una vez más en su historia republicana un alto grado de sensibilidad humana a favor de la familia y de la vida de los niños y jóvenes más pobres. ¿No se podrá continuar por ese camino legislativo?”.[9]

La Alianza Cristiana de Iglesias Evangélicas de la República Argentina (ACIERA) –que agrupa a más del 80 % de las comunidades evangélicas del país- exhortó a los legisladores a votar en contra de la despenalización del aborto porque “la vida es el primero de los Derechos Humanos que el Estado debe tutelar desde el momento de la fecundación”, agregando que “la práctica de abortos clandestinos, más allá de cuantos sean, es en sí misma, un problema humanitario y de la sociedad actual. Que las secuelas emocionales del aborto, clandestino o legal, son profundas y difíciles de sobrellevar. Pero entendemos que la salud pública argentina necesita encontrar propuestas que cuiden y protejan a la madre y a su hijo, y defiendan la vida, tanto de la mujer como la del niño por nacer”[10].

En una declaración suscripta por más de treinta sacerdotes de asentamientos de la Capital y el Gran Buenos Aires –además de los dos curas villeros recientemente designados obispos[11]- se refuta, a quienes apelan a la situación de precariedad de las embarazadas de escasos recursos: “algunos planteos de otros sectores sociales -creemos que este es uno de ellos- toman a los pobres como justificativo para sus argumentos. Se habla de la tasa de mortalidad por aborto de las mujeres de los barrios más pobres”, dicen, y agregan “lo primero que hay que hacer en nuestros barrios es luchar contra la pobreza con firme determinación y en esto el Estado tiene las mejores herramientas. Con casi un 30% de pobres -detrás de los cuales hay rostros e historias- hay discusiones que debieran priorizarse”[12].

En su análisis, publicado en una columna de opinión el Gran Rabino Sefardí Isaac Sacca de la Argentina hizo hincapié en que la vida es el valor supremo para los textos sagrados y enfatizó que el aborto es una "transgresión contra la vida del feto humano" que pone en riesgo "innecesariamente la salud de la mujer". El gran rabino que visitó al Papa Francisco en Diciembre de 2016 declaró que "debemos percatarnos de que las personas somos débiles y nos estremecemos ante la incomodidad, recordar que el aborto linda con el homicidio, tanto del feto como de la madre; si se practica para promover una vida de libertinaje sin responsabilidad, podríamos estar firmando nuestra condena como sociedad moral; si no se practica aun cuando una mujer corre peligro de muerte, se estaría actuando con una ideología fundamentalista que nos convertiría en asesinos"[13].

Los argumentos en el debate que se perfila - tanto a favor como en contra de la despenalización - parecieran combinar grandes líneas argumentales, que intentaré sintetizar muy brevemente: las que refieren a cuestiones de salud pública y las que refieren a materias de derecho.

Entre quienes están a favor se resalta que se trataría de una política destinada a dar respuesta a una cuestión de salud pública no atendida por el Estado, afirmando que el aborto es una práctica de hecho que, dada su ilegalidad se practica de manera clandestina y onerosa, y sin seguir protocolos de seguridad e higiene para la madre que decide interrumpir el embarazo; por otro, se afirma que se trata de legislar sobre derechos, en este caso el de la mujer a decidir sobre su propio cuerpo, sobre todo para aquellos casos de embarazos no deseados producto de abuso, que ponen en riesgo la vida de la madre, o en situaciones que pusieran en riesgo la supervivencia futura del niño o niña.

Los argumentos en contra de la despenalización que se refieren a cuestiones de salud pública, afirman que el Estado tiene un deber de asistencia y cuidado de la Vida, y en ese entendimiento hacen mención además a la responsabilidad ética y profesional de los médicos que emana del juramento hipocrático, según el cual todo acto médico está orientado a preservar la vida, no a eliminarla. También se cuestionan las cifras y real impacto del aborto clandestino dado que, siendo una práctica ilegal, no está registrada por estadísticas oficiales. Frente a quienes afirman que su legalización vendría a cubrir un vacío de cobertura sanitaria para las mujeres, especialmente las pobres, la respuesta es que en verdad se revictimiza a la mujer, que además de sufrir por un eventual embarazo no deseado, debe atravesar el trauma del aborto y post aborto. Con relación a las cuestiones de derecho, entran al menos dos problemáticas en juego. La primera es que la mujer no estaría ejerciendo un derecho a decidir sobre su propio cuerpo, sino sobre el derecho a vivir de otro ser que lleva en su seno. Desde esta perspectiva se trata de dos vidas en juego. La segunda es que la despenalización del aborto sería una ley inconstitucional, dado que la Argentina incorporó a su ordenamiento jurídico la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos (también llamada Pacto de San José de Costa Rica) que afirma que toda persona tiene derecho a que se respete su vida desde el momento de la concepción.

Aquí es donde entra en juego otra discusión de carácter científico y otra de carácter moral ¿A partir de qué momento se deja de ser embrión y se pasa a ser Persona?

Las respuestas son bien conocidas, quienes están a favor afirman poder establecer esa diferencia en términos de “x semanas de gestación”, para quienes están en contra se es Persona desde el mismo momento de la concepción y para ello se alude a la ciencia genética. Sobre éste punto pareciera no haber acuerdo posible.

A semanas de iniciado el debate en la Argentina, en su última exhortación apostólica, “Gaudete et exsultate” dedicada a “la santidad en el mundo de hoy” el Papa afirma que ayudar a los pobres debería ser tan importante como luchar contra el aborto. El documento defiende un fuerte compromiso social y tiene una neta orientación progresista, además de criticar indirectamente a los grupos internos más conservadores de la Iglesia que se enfrentan a Francisco y conspiran contra él.

“La defensa del inocente que no ha nacido, debe ser clara, firme y apasionada, porque allí está en juego la dignidad de la vida humana, siempre sagrada”[14]. El Papa agregó que “igualmente sagrada es la vida de los pobres que ya han nacido, que se debaten en la miseria, el abandono, la postergación, la trata de personas, la eutanasia encubierta en los enfermos y ancianos privados de atención, las nuevas formas de esclavitud, y en toda forma de descarte”[15].

El debate ha comenzado y promete ser apasionado, como afirma el Papa.

[2] Expediente Nº 4161-D-2016. Publicado por Trámite Parlamentario Nº 84.

[3] Todo proyecto de ley presentado que no obtenga sanción en una de sus cámaras durante el año parlamentario en el que tuvo entrada en el cuerpo o en el siguiente, caduca.

[4] Ídem 1

[6] Por ejemplo, la Academia Nacional de Ciencias Morales y Políticas, el Colegio Médico de Salta, el Colegio Médico de Tucumán, el Colegio de Abogados de Tucumán, la Academia del Plata, el Colegio de Médicos de la ciudad de La Plata, la Academia Nacional de Derecho y Ciencias Sociales de Buenos Aires, el Colegio de Abogados de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, la Sociedad Argentina de Ética Médica y Biológica y la Sociedad de Ginecología y Obstetricia de San Juan.

[15] Ídem 11

Decriminalization of Abortion in Argentina: The Debate No One Expected

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Pablo A. Blanco |

This article aims to frame the discussion on the decriminalization of abortion in the context of the government initiative that surprisingly propelled the issue on to the political agenda of Argentina; to give an account of the actors involved and the main arguments for and against, and finally to show the plurality of voices that have manifested against decriminalization.

President Macri’s decision to allow parliamentary debate on the decriminalization of abortion[1] - also referred to as decriminalization of "VIP" – has formalized in Argentina the debate on this issue.

It has been formalized because it has opened public discussion on a topic that is not new, neither in Argentina nor in the world. In our country the project of "Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy" (VIP) was presented in six previous occasions, most recently in 2016[2], but always lost its parliamentary status and did not have legislative treatment in Congress[3].

It has been formalized because the seventh presentation this year coincided with the decision of Macri´s to enable the discussion in parliament, and has also included the presentation of other projects, including the official bloc itself.

The Argentine President has shown himself "in favor of Life"[4], and suggested that the debate should happen within a framework of freedom of conscience. Speculation abounds about this apparent contradiction, and about the political opportunity to promote this debate. Some consider that it is a measure of distraction in the face of a complex economic and social situation, in a scenario of rising inflation. Others consider that it is a measure aimed at attracting support from progressive sectors to broaden the base of political support of the government. Others consider that it is a political message addressed to Pope Francis in relation to his supposed intervention in the domestic politics of Argentina.

Beyond the intention of the government, at the same time has begun an intense campaign to influence the debate and congressmen.

The ones who are in favor of decriminalization are running the "National Campaign for the Right to Legal Abortion, Safe and Free", an alliance that was woven after the national meetings of women in the cities of Rosario (2003), and Mendoza (2004), and has found various supports in civil society, expressed in the "Pañuelazo"[5] of February 19th of 2018.

On the side against decriminalization we can find, among others, Argentina´s Catholic Church through its Episcopal Conference, bishops of various dioceses, the Head of the Catholic University, the Department of Laity, pro-life organizations, representatives of other churches and confessions, some functionaries and non-religious sectors[6], among them the National Academy of Medicine[7].

The latter group also decided to "take the street" and express themselves, calling for a march under the slogan "Every life counts"[8] on Sunday March 25th, the day of the "Unborn Child" - established by Saint John Paul II - and legal in Argentina by Decree No. 1406 of 1998.

This action reached almost 200 cities in Argentina and did not have any media coverage. The Medias realizing the magnitude of the mobilizations were forced to set them in agenda a few hours later. This apparent neutrality and indifference of the media, is not consistent with the broad coverage of the Medias and the dissemination of sectors opinions given in favor of decriminalization.

From the plurality of voices that have spoken out against decriminalization we can mention the document issued by the Episcopal Conference of Argentina in agreement with the latest public statements on the issue made by the Pope Francis - "I know it's an existential and moral drama," said the pontiff, who in 2015 gave the priests of the world the power to absolve the sin of abortion.

The text entitled "Respectful of life," also does not refuse the issue being discussed in Congress - "that this debate find us ready for a sincere and profound dialogue" - and makes a reference to a law passed by the previous government: "a few years ago with the enactment of 'Universal child Allowance', the Honorable National Congress demonstrated once again in its republican history a high degree of human sensitivity in favor of the family and the lives of children and poorest youth. Shouldn’t we continue on this legislative way?"[9]

Christian Alliance of Evangelical Churches of Argentina (ACIERA), which brings together more than 80% of evangelical communities of the country, urged lawmakers to vote against the decriminalization of abortion because "life is the first of the Human rights that the State must protect from the moment of conception”, adding that “the practice of clandestine abortions is in itself a humanitarian problem of society. The emotional aftermath of abortion, illegal or legal, are deep and difficult to bear. But we understand that Argentina’s public health needs to find proposals that ensure and protect the mother and her child, and defend life, both women and the unborn child "[10].

A statement signed by more than thirty priests of settlements in the Capital and Greater Buenos Aires in addition to the two priests newly appointed as bishops to the slums[11], refuted the appeal to the precarious situation of low-income pregnant, "we believe that some social sectors take the poor as justification for their arguments, talking about the abortion death rate of women in the poorest neighborhoods to promote decriminalization”, adding that "the first thing to do in our neighborhoods is to fight poverty with determination where the state has the best tools. With almost 30% of poor other social problems should be prioritized in the design of social policies"[12].

In a national newspaper the Sephardic Rabbi Isaac Sacca of Argentina denounced that “life is the supreme value for sacred texts and emphasized that abortion is against human life" that threatens "unnecessarily women’s health". The great rabbi who visited Pope Francisco in December 2016, stated that we must realize that people are weak and we must shudder at the discomfort. We must remember that abortion is murder, and promotes a life of debauchery without responsibility... is a fundamentalist ideology that turn us into murderers… we could be signing our moral condemnation as society”[13].

The arguments in the debate shaping up - both for and against the decriminalization - seem to combine great storylines that I’ll try to summarize very briefly: those related to public health issues and those related to matters of law.

Among those in favor, some highlight that abortion would be a responsive policy to a public health issue not addressed by the State, claiming that abortion is a fact that, given its illegality, is practiced clandestinely and burdensome and without following protocols and safety for the mother who decides to terminate the pregnancy. Secondly, the need to legislate the right of women to decide on their body, especially in cases of unwanted pregnancies resulting from abuse, threatening the life of the mother, or in situations that put at risk the future survival of the child.

The arguments against decriminalization, addressing the public health arguments claim that the State has a duty of life care, and mention ethics and professional responsibility of doctors emanating from the Hippocratic Oath, according to which every medical act is aimed at preserving life, not to eliminate it. Figures and actual impact of clandestine abortion are also very difficult to set out, being an illegal practice, and are not registered by official statistics. Against those who claim that legalization would come to fill a gap in health coverage for women, especially the poor ones, the answer is that women are re-victimized, not only suffering from an unwanted pregnancy, but must also go through the trauma of abortion and post abortion. With regard to questions of rights, there are at least two issues at stake. The first is that the woman would not be exercising a right to decide over her own body, but over the right to life of another being who she carries in her womb. From this perspective there are two lives at stake. The second is that the decriminalization of abortion would be an unconstitutional law, since Argentina joined the American Convention on Human Rights (also called Pact of San José de Costa Rica) which states that everyone has the right to their life being respected from the moment of conception.

This is another discussion comes into play: the scientific and moral. To what point is there no longer an embryo and somebody becomes a person?

Those in favor claim to establish that difference in terms of a number of weeks of gestation. Those who are against consider that there is a person from the moment of conception, what has been verified by genetics. On this point there seems to be no possible agreement.

Within hours of the beginning of the debate in Argentina, in his last apostolic exhortation, "Gaudete et Exsultate" dedicated to "holiness in the world today," the Pope stated that helping the poor should be as important as fighting against abortion. The document advocates a strong social commitment and has a progressive orientation, in addition to indirectly criticizing the more conservative groups within the Church who face Francis and conspire against him.

"Our defence of the innocent unborn, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred"[14]. The Pope added that "equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection"[15].

The debate has begun and promises to be passionate, as the Pope predicted.

[2]Docket No. 4161-D-2016. Posted by Parliamentary Procedure No. 84.

[3] Every project submitted that does get its approval in one of the chambers during the parliamentary year in which it had being presented expires that year.

[4] ditto 1

[6] For example, the National Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, the Medical College of Salta, the Medical College of Tucumán, the Tucumán Lawyers Association, the Plata Academy, the Medical College of the city of La Plata, the National Academy of Law and Social Sciences of Buenos Aires, the Lawyers Association of the City of Buenos Aires, the Argentine Society of Medical and Biological Ethics and the Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics of San Juan.

[15] Idem 11

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.



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