Forum Submissions

Month

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Article

September 2018

 
Anthony Egan
Land - The Moral Dilemma
   
Hoa Trung Dinh
Protests against Special Economic Zones in Vietnam
    Ellen van Stichel Sarajevo: through the eyes of a 7-year old boy
    Claudia Leal Luna El dolor y la esperanza de la Iglesia chilena
    Shawnee M. Daniels-Sykes Building Bridges, not Walls, for the Future
   
Anne Celestine Achieng Oyier Ondigo,
Alexandre A. Martins
Good News: Junior Scholars Column on the CTEWC Forum
     

July 2018

 
Teresia Hinga
Remembering and Honoring Professor Sr. Anne Nasimiyu Wasike: A Concerned, Socially Engaged and (not so) Little Sr. of St Francis
    Marianne Heimbach-Steins Christian Social Ethics and its Theological Relevance through the Lens of Veritatis Gaudium
    Ramon Luzarraga and Mary Jo Iozzio Arguments Catholic Ethicists Must Refute on the US Immigration Crisis
    Mary Yuen China's New Global Initiative and Authentic Development
    Emilce Cuda GUERRA DE DIOSES: Posverdad o fin del Secularismo
       

June 2018

 
Agnes Brazal
Gaudete et Exsultate and the Unfinished Agenda of Vatican II
   
Mary Jo Iozzio
Raising Consciousness and Forming Consciences: Strategic Disruptive Nonviolence
   
Margaret Ssebunya 
Breaking the Nyaope addiction in South Africa: Is it possible?
    Anibal Torres Ante nuevos “vientos de doctrina, el lenguaje de los gestos
       
       

May 2018

  Stanislaus Alla  Life in India: Spaces Destroyed and Processes Disrupted
    Pablo A. Blanco Decriminalization of Abortion in Argentina: The Debate No One Expected;
    Thomas Massaro Opioid Addiction: A National Crisis in Slow Motion
       
       
       

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?
   Vietnam  Hoa Trung Dinh  CHURCH LEADER CALLS FOR ACTION AGAINST MARINE POLLUTION IN VIETNAM
   United Kingdom  Julie Clague  Structural injustice revisited
   United States  Mary Jo Iozzio  The US Affordable Care Act: Modest Success
       

September 2016 

 Uganda

 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
   South Africa  Anthony Egan  AMORIS LAETITIA: A CHALLENGE TO THE CHURCH IN AFRICA – AND ELSEWHERE
   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
   Mexico  Miguel Ángel Sánchez  LA VISITA DEL PAPA FRANCISCO A MÉXICO: UN VIRAJE ALENTADOR PARA LA ÉTICA
   United States  Michael Jaycox  Dangerous Memories, Dangerous Movements: Christian Freedom in the Empire
       

February 2016

 Vietnam  Hoa Dinh  MELBOURNE DOCTORS REFUSING TO RETURN CHILDREN TO DETENTION
   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

 South Africa  Anthony Egan  ON SNAKES, FUNDAMENTALISM AND RELIGIOUS ABUSE
   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

 Nigeria  Ojo Bolanle Bimbo  GLOBALISATION, INEQUALITY AND POVERTY IN NIGERIA: ADVOCACY FOR GLOBAL JUSTICE
      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

 Cameroon  Azetsop Jacquineau  THE EBOLA EPIDEMIC IN WEST AFRICA: AN ISSUE OF JUSTICE?
   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

 Kenya   Wilhelmina Tunu  TOWARDS A HOLISTIC UNDERSTANDING OF POVERTY
   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."
   Mexico  Jutta Battenberg  MEDIOS DE COMUNICACIÓN SOCIAL: LA MIRADA AUSENTE
   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!
   Mexico  Sebastián Mier  LA ETICA TEOLÓGICA EN EL CONGRESO CONTINENTAL DE TEOLOGÍA LATINOAMERICANA (available in English and Spanish)
   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

Time to renew the Church’s commitment to women

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

An urgent call for an encyclical on women at the occasion of the 70 years’ jubilee of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

The seven decades that have elapsed since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in December 1948 have seen an immense increase in the awareness and further legal specifications with regard to human rights. The engagement of innumerable human rights organisations to deepen the human rights’ ethos and speed up their implementation has truly been impressive. Despite all setbacks and continuing daily cruelties, as well as the unending need for brave battles to restrain state authorities from abusing their powers, human rights have proved to be the most effective instrument so far invented to protect people from arbitrary political violence, help mitigate social ills and further human dignity. Their positive dynamics continue to be a reason for hope. One of the most impressive developments in this context is the enhancement of the legal and social status of women worldwide during the past decades against all odds despite religious and cultural traditions as well as fundamentalist counter currents. The demand for equal rights voiced in the UDHR became a binding agreement of international law through the Convention Against all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW of 1979/1981) constituting the basis of a number of later documents. The global conferences on women in Mexico City (1975), Copenhagen (1980), Nairobi (1985) and Beijing (1995) were milestones helping to better understand the issue, engendering a multitude of activities as well as the creation of global, regional and national women’s networks. They also showed that the situations of women differ considerably in different regions. I remember when a friend coming from the Beijing conference said, that one of the main concerns of Asian women was malnutrition since women traditionally are allowed to eat only after men have eaten. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the subsequent Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (to be implemented till 2030) both contain main goals to “Promote gender equality and empower women” and address the issue in sub-goals, women being disadvantaged in practically all areas and thus most other goals directly or indirectly being linked to women’s rights and their struggle for equality. The social ills women are disproportionately affected by include poverty and malnutrition (60% of the extremely poor) and illiteracy (63% of those without schooling). Women do most of the work (e.g. 79% of rural work) but own only a small share of the soil (13%). They are victims of a whole range of gender specific forms of violence ranging from female feticide (the estimated number of missing females is 100 million worldwide), neglect of girls (infanticide), female genital mutilation, rape, dowry deaths, honour killings, female slavery and human trafficking in women, by which women are most affected. Thus of the 40 million slaves estimated worldwide, 71% of these are women. In the sex industry the figure is 99%. These few figures demonstrate that women as well as those who struggle for their well-being are today confronted with immense social problems and ills, even though some progress has been made through considerable intellectual and practical efforts during the past 70 years.

This being said any look at the way the Catholic Church deals with the issue is sobering.

There are, without doubt, a multitude of Catholic social initiatives, practical as well as intellectual to further the well-being of women and improve their lives and status worldwide. Thus, I found the CTEWC world conference in Sarajevo last July so very encouraging because of the considerable number of women theologians from all continents that were present, often being the first of their generation, some of them supported by CTEWC scholarships. I was impressed by a workshop where two African priests talked about their engagement for women’s rights and empowerment in their countries. These, as many other examples that could be cited (help for refugee women, anti-slavery activities, engagement against forced prostitution), shows that on the ground the Catholic Church is an important agent in the field.  

However, what is painfully missing are clear statements on the issue of women’s rights and emancipation from the hierarchies of the Catholic Church, locally as well as centrally. This ominous silence is deplorable since it withholds the support direly needed by women, particularly the poor, in their struggle against social ills and discriminations and it overlooks that women who develop their potential can contribute much better to the well-being of their families as well as the common good of their respective communities.

A text from Pacem in terris (1963), that is worth citing at length, shows that Catholic Social Teaching did not always have this blind spot: 

 Secondly, the part that women are now playing in political life is everywhere evident. This is a development that is perhaps of swifter growth among Christian nations, but it is also happening extensively, if more slowly, among nations that are heirs to different traditions and imbued with a different culture. Women are gaining an increasing awareness of their natural dignity. Far from being content with a purely passive role or allowing themselves to be regarded as a kind of instrument, they are demanding both in domestic and in public life the rights and duties which belong to them as human persons (PT 41).

Read today after the twists in discourse during the past five decades this passage sounds almost provocative. Firstly, it considers the emancipation of workers, women (therefore secondly) and the developing nations as three global megatrends that the Church can welcome and support. As “signs of the time” they are not only facts one acknowledges with some hesitation, they carry major ethical as well as theological significance. They correspond with God’s will, which is to make the world a better and more humane place for all human beings. Discrimination to the contrary is – as Gaudium et spes states - “incompatible with God’s design” (GS 29). Secondly, the text regards recent progress in the role of women in Western societies a result of their Christian heritage, which though it in no way limits its importance for and in other cultures, makes clear that it is to be incorporated in the Social Teaching of the Church. Thirdly, women’s struggle to play an active role is seen as being in agreement with the agenda of human rights and duties as rightful expressions of what it means to be a human person.  

Regarded from this point of departure later developments in Catholic Social Teaching, starting in the 1970s, cannot but be seen as reductionist and indeed regressive. With few exceptions they no longer address concrete social ills afflicting women but (starting with Octogesima adveniens) attempt to establish an essentialist identity discourse directed against emancipatory social trends in Western societies which are now being seen as detrimental and contrary to Catholic anthropology.[1] The tragedy inherent in this turn in Church teaching is that at a time when the equal rights of women were after long struggles legally recognized in industrialized countries, which in general was in the 1970s, the Catholic hierarchy no longer welcomed them. Instead, it engaged in a counter-cultural discourse the relevance of which was limited to critical comments on what was perceived as the negative side effects of modern developments. At a time when women’s rights became a centre piece of human rights discourse, the official Church no longer participated in this discourse - even though it could have been one of the social issues where the Catholic Church according to Vatican II could very well have worked together with secular agents in a mutual learning process for the betterment of female lives (cf GS 42; 44).  Instead a counter-discourse that idealized ‘woman’ as the Other of modernity blocked rather than furthered understanding and, in fact, contributed little to the struggle against concrete social ills taking into account the social realities of real women in different regions of the world. The affirmation of (sexual) difference before equality, and family values before women’s rights merely reacted against what was perceived as a feminist threat, whereby the pitting of women’s rights and personal development against their life in the family had and has little to do with the facts on the ground. This is because support of women through better education and better health services is the best way to help families come out of poverty.  

A symptom of this unsatisfactory state of affairs is the rather fruitless debate on whether the term gender is to be used by the Catholic Church. Since “gender” has for decades been the term and instrument used to analyse situations and sharpen the view for different forms of injustice against women, the refusal to use it meant opting out of the ongoing debates leaving the issue to others actors. It also meant shunning cooperation with the international and national agents and agencies. Obviously the term “gender” – like any other term - can be misinterpreted and misused. Thus, the Catholic Church will with good right say no to some of the demands of gender politics.  However, as in other areas, dialogue and a common policy requires a common language. In Laudato si’ Pope Francis devoted a whole chapter to dialogue making this method of Vatican II forcefully his own (after a period when it had been discredited). If this method of dialogue is to be applied to women’s issues there is no way around using the term gender. The Papal Commission Justice and Peace held a remarkable meeting on global women’s issues in 2015, stating exactly this. In the final communique, however, the word gender was again omitted due to protest from some conservative women’s groups. The establishment of a counter-discourse, however, neither does justice to the issue nor to the teachings of Vatican II. As feminist exegesis and theology have amply shown during the past decades, it is also not founded in the Scriptures. From a pragmatic standpoint, moreover, considering the rights of half of the world’s population cannot be a successful strategy in the long run.  

It is, therefore, high time that the Church recommits herself to Vatican II when she self-assuredly embraced the movement towards greater equality of women based on human rights. Thereby, she could in the best of all scenarios be a voice of reason in a highly fragmented and polarized debate of the so called “culture wars”, stressing that the ethical implications of social issues are always complex and the most humane solutions can only be found in dialogue. As Aristotle noted, it is a function of the particularity of ethics that these insights never have the same certainty as those of mathematics (Nicomachean Ethics I 1: 1094b-1095a 11).

For years I used to conclude my lectures on Catholic Social Teaching with a resumé on its strengths and weaknesses. As a last point I told my students that on two issues CST was gravely underdeveloped: on ecology and on women. After the publication of Laudato si’ in June 2015 the one blind spot that remains is women’s role and rights. An encyclical on the issue could well start adapting the famous introductory words of the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes:

Gaudium et spes, luctus et angor mulierum huius temporis, pauperum prasertim et quorumvis afflictorum, gaudium sund et spes, luctus et angor etium Christi discipulorum…” (GS 1 adapted).

As I see it before my inner eye, its structure could be rather similar to that of Laudato si’ starting out with a description of the worldwide situation of women giving special emphasis to regional differences and linking women’s issues with other social issues  (feminization of poverty, migration, ecology, violence). It could secondly state the message of the Gospels taking up the theological scholarship of the past decades on women’s role in them.[2] Thirdly, it could show that there are important pro-modern traditions in the Catholic Church existing since the beginnings of Christianity stressing the equality of women. Fourthly, a chapter should as in Laudato si’ be devoted to serious dialogue with all other agents active in the field from science, other religions and secular movements. Such an encyclical on women could then close with guidelines to further women’s empowerment expressing the Church’s appreciation for existing initiatives in the Catholic Church as well as in other churches and religions. All of this would not exclude that problematic developments and difficult ethical questions are being addressed in a polite way but they would not stand in the first place. It would attempt to describe the situation in different regions of the world Church in as much detail as possible,[3] giving sufficient weight to regional differences which she knows about from a myriad of grass root organisations, parishes and religious communities. Thus, she would be able to show that different approaches are needed in different social contexts, whereby these must all be guided by the universal acceptance of human rights. Such a document would also speak about the role of women in the Church and their work for the Gospel so as to further the common good of the Church acknowledging that she did not make sufficient use of women’s potential in the past. 

The encyclical I dream of could be a big step forward in what is one of the most ardent social questions in today’s world, stressing the dignity and rights of women as Rerum novarum stressed the dignity and rights of workers in 1891. Last but not least it could help the Church get out of the cul de sac on gender and sexual issues that the Church has manoeuvred herself into. And it could rekindle hope. Such an encyclical on women has all too long been missing.

 



[1]  An  instructive example is the story of the pastoral letter of the US Bishops‘ Conference on women. See the analysis given by Mary E. Carlson: Can the Church Be a Virtuous Hearer of Women? Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 32:1 (Spring 2016), 21-36  (https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/jfemistudreli.32.1.03  accessed 24 September 2018)

[2] For an overview see Linda Hogan & A.E.Orobator (eds.), Feminist Theological Ethics. Conversations in the World Church, Orbis Maryknoll 2014.

[3] As is done for India in Shaji George Kochuthara (ed.): Gender Justice in the Church and Society, Papers of the Second DVK National Seminar on Moral Theology, Dharmaram Moral Theology Series No.3, Dharmaram Publications 2016.

Universal?

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Grégoire Catta |

From August 29th to 31st, the ATEM (Association des Théologiens pour l’Étude de la Morale)[1], the French speaking ecumenical association of moral theologians hold its annual congress in Paris on the topic of moral education. The usual constituency of the association was joined by a substantial group of non-ethicist people interested in the topic, mainly actors in youth movements, schools or chaplaincies. The mixed audience was an opportunity for a fruitful conversation on the crucial and difficult question of the formation of moral consciences. What does this mean? How do we do this? What are the specific challenges of our time and local context?

I have no intention here to summarize the whole conference. I simply highlight a vexing question which somehow stayed in the background of many contributions. How about the “universal” today? For Kant, no doubt that ethical reasoning had to take the path of asking oneself about the universalizability of one’s “maxim” of action. It is a way of coming back to the golden rule: do not do to others what you would not like them do to you or, in the positive sense, act as you would like the others do. Whatever was the suitability of such ethical approach in modern times, it is obvious that today, in such a country as France and in late-modern or post-modern era, for post-millennials teen-agers, it hardly works. Setting the context on the first day of the conference, a high school teacher who happened to have worked within a large variety of socio-economic contexts in France, pointed out the issue: no lack of generosity among the youth, neither of a sense solidarity especially with those close to them (the family, the friends, etc.). But the idea of universal human rights or of something like the common good is very difficult to explain them. What is authoritative is primarily what can be directly experienced. How do you experience a concept like the common good?

More generally, as ethicists, we are all aware that we live in a world of pluralism not only regarding cultures, visions of the world, or ethical orientations but more fundamentally of anthropologies or visions of the human being. Again and again during the conference was valued an ethic of virtues, stressing the importance of the formation of the character, as an appropriate tool in order to respond to these challenges. But still the question of the articulation between diversity of goods and the search for universality remains. In his concluding remarks, Alain Thomasset (president of ATEM) restated the question. He also suggested some more general landmarks for moral education today, very much in the line of Pope Francis’ pedagogy: accompaniment, dialog, and “never without the little ones”. The latest caught my attention in relation to the question of universality. Could the attention to the poorest, the most excluded, the most fragile in our society be a path for an ethical discernment that would look for the “universal”? Indeed, if you take care of the last, the one at the bottom, the most forgotten, all should benefit. This was the intuition of Fr. Joseph Wresinski, the founder of ATD-Fourth World[2], fifty years ago. Some might also find support for such a reasoning in Rawl’s principle of difference. With some nuancing! In any case, if, as one of my teachers once said to me, a good day of conference is a day when you end up with having met a new colleague and with having a new question or idea, the ATEM conference this year fully achieved the goal!

The "Wound of the Border"

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

Long festering due to neglect, callousness, and race-based suspicion, the Southern border of the United States, which has long been likened to a bodily wound, was ripped open this summer. Anyone paying attention and possessing a moral conscience will remember the summer of 2018 as a particularly mean season of failed policy, a bankrupt administration, and a barely concealed hatred—all producing undeniable human rights atrocities. The old wound is raw, ugly, and more shameful than ever.

As the Trump administration imposed a “zero tolerance” policy toward anyone caught entering the U.S. outside official channels, even those seeking asylum and attempting to play by the established rules, criminalization of unauthorized entry effectively weaponized previous efforts to restrict and deter migration. We all know the results of over 2300 family separations: children already traumatized by violence, poverty and strife in their home countries were ripped from the arms of their parents, held in cage-like pens, and sent to facilities hundreds of miles from the familiar. In horror, news media assured that we saw desperate parents holed up in prison-like federal facilities, exhausting every means to contact and reunite with their infants, toddlers and teens. It has taken months and heroic efforts on the part of the ACLU and other nonprofits to fight for the victims of this mean-spirited policy and reunite forlorn families. Hundreds of cases are still unresolved: picking up the pieces has hardly been a priority of this government, whose slow response and limited commitment of resources has caused it to miss court-ordered deadlines to resolve cases by locating and reuniting detained children with their deported parents.

Veterans of policy analysis know all too well about unfortunate and unintended consequences of policy innovation. The precise outcomes of any change in the law depend on complex interactions among administrative choices and the vagaries in patterns of human behavior as people respond to new incentive structures. When something goes wrong in social policy outcomes, prudence often dictates extending the benefit of the doubt to policy innovators. However, recent migration fiascos are not just garden-variety instances of well-intended policy gone awry. Starting with the travel bans initiated in the first days of the Trump presidency (against Muslim non-citizens), we have witnessed a series of loathsome attempts to disregard the bodily and mental well-being of “special” groups (particularly, people of color).

Arguably, the stated policy goal of deterring excessive numbers of immigrants into the nation may have some merit. However, the means deliberately chosen by President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to achieve this end –the Executive Order instituting “zero tolerance,” the summary deportation and removal orders departing from previous protocols, and the none-too-subtle pressure on immigration judges to rule against refugee and asylum applicants to deny permission for entry and resettlement assistance—are immoral. The toll in human suffering and lasting trauma is immense and foreseeable. Many foreign nationals migrate to seek asylum and protection from harm for their families and, under conditions of maximal vulnerability, they risk all to keep their families intact. This new round of degradation, compounding trauma inflicted upon thousands of children and their desperate parents, cannot be excused.

Rather than dwell on all that went wrong this summer, the most constructive path forward is to identify specifically what we have yet to do as a nation to get the policy questions right. The need has never been greater for comprehensive immigration legislation that will adjust this failed system. Further, insisting upon fair treatment of those seeking asylum or refugee status is not synonymous with demanding open borders.

If we fail to make careful distinctions about who, what, and why, then demands for enhanced security and orderly entry-policy screening will exert undue influence on future policy. We already witness this drift in calls to restrict eligibility for refugee admissions (despite the worst refugee crisis in history, Trump administration officials first signaled an intention to halve the already paltry annual level of 45,000 and have settled instead on 30,000 -the lowest level since the 1980 refugee program began!). We also see this pressure in the elevated rhetoric surrounding a violent crime (the July 18 murder of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts) allegedly committed by an undocumented entrant to the U.S. in 2011. Noting the tendency toward over-reaction and scapegoating that flies in the face of reliable aggregate crime statistics, New York TimesPaul Krugman recently referred to “a mythical wave of crimes committed by scary dark people.” In short, we will have a lot of work to do even after placing comprehensive policy reform on the national agenda.

If there is a silver lining to this very dark cloud, it is that Americans demonstrated that they do indeed care, despite the Trump administration wager that we would remain indifferent. The diversions of planning and enjoying summer vacations did not distract us from noticing that these atrocities were committed in our names –a clear moral line had been crossed. Catholics in the US would not allow these struggling families separated by a cruel and punitive migration policy to be treated as mere political footballs. The Catholic Church can be proud that it was prominent among the many voices of conscience reminding all that human dignity does not stop at the border. Catholic Charities agencies, faith-based legal advocates, and several prominent bishops denounced the policy and raced to the border and detention centers to assist the victims of this cruel initiative; they are to be commended for feeling the shame, exposing the shame, and intervening with a timely contribution to reverse the shame of U.S. inhumanity on the border.

The crisis is far from resolved. Newly released budgetary priorities for the Department of Homeland Security (which includes Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and transfers of funds into expanded detention (including revised rules for detaining children) and deportation efforts are coming to light. Further, the heightened rhetoric surrounding the construction of a border wall continues to incite and “rouse the Trump base” which supports such punitive directions for U.S. migration policy.

How will this ignominy be remembered? Hopefully as a momentary aberration—one perpetrated by those temporarily at the helm of a nation composed of millions of people of conscience, with a long and generally admirable history of welcoming the stranger. If we have lost our way as a nation, the most direct route back to virtue is to recall our more beneficent past and the values we have long affirmed in public policy (though not consistently practiced): hospitality, inclusion, opportunity, and respect for the human rights of all. Remembering the best aspects of our past ought inspire us to reject all abuses of power, like these witnessed during our summer of shame.

Families displaced from their homelands and fleeing unspeakable dangers deserve U.S. support, not rejection or indefinite prison-like detention. Even if we cannot open our homeland to every new arrival, refugees and asylum seekers must be treated with respect and dignity, not dismissed in preemptory ways, subjected to the cruelty of family separation, or demonized as violent criminals. The shame on the border this summer constituted a betrayal of our national heritage as a land of hope and dreams. May the healing of the wound at the border be nigh.

 

 

New Debt Crisis

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

It’s like 2000 all over again:

Many African countries are entering more and more heavily into debt owed to other nations. The difference is that now it is China buying the future of our children. Now it is China extending loans and ‘aid’ equivalent to US$ 60 billion to Africa. Now it is China receiving opprobrium for predatory lending, from our former colonial masters who are on their moral high horses. Now China is perceived as the threat to Western interests because of its “carefully laid debt trap” in Africa. Now our peoples will be stuck in cycles of odious debt to China. Now we will be begging for relief, ‘amnesty’, jubilee from China rather than from the West.

And frankly, to our people, I don’t think it will feel any different, as we lose control of our natural assets, our ports and airports, our economic priorities, our human development goals. We are warned that the Confucian ethic is less benign and forgiving than the ethic of our former Christian overlords. This may or may not be. There might or might not be token interest cancellations. But isn’t it just a matter of the degree of grinding poverty to which our people will be subject when the loans become due and the payments have to be made? Slavery is still slavery.

We have recently read about Sri Lanka ceding control of its port, because of defaulting on loan repayments. China now has a foothold in the Indian Ocean. Zambia is denying having talks about swapping debt for public assets like the international airport, the state broadcaster, and the electricity utility. But there’s no smoke without fire… Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa has recently negotiated a multi-billion loan for South Africa, to “stimulate the economy.” Haven’t we seen this all before?

As the year 2000 was approaching, many churches, including the Catholic Church led the Jubilee movement, which aimed to reduce the debt burden of heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs). There was talk of debt forgiveness, of odious debt, of greater financial outflows from Africa (in particular) in servicing foreign debt than financial inflows in foreign aid. NGOs and humanitarian agencies were lobbying (often successfully) arguing that in some cases the initial capital had actually been repaid several times over, but that eternal interest payments were keeping the countries in the debt cycle.

In the honeymoon period after independence, many inexperienced leaders committed their countries to loan agreements, in order to buy the things their countries needed: big black cars, military materiel, lavish palaces, presidential residences, prestigious universities, white elephants. Now, in the 2000’s, China is helping us to build roads and railways to replace those neglected over the decades since independence, to buy bigger, bulkier black gas guzzlers, and to invest in more prestigious white elephant projects. 

It seems that our leaders understand little about loans, to say nothing of interest and compound interest. You see, in Africa, at least in our village mentality, when we say “lend me” we really mean “give me.” If you have more than you need, you are morally bound to let me have what I need. Sharing is a way of life, and it is bad form to ask for the repayment of a loan. Despite that African communalism, some of our citizens manage to accumulate vast wealth.

And of those leaders who do understand the world’s financial systems, perhaps they don’t mind that they are committing their people to decades of debt servitude. They will probably be out of office when the payments become due, and still living off the fat of the land. This is morally culpable behaviour. No less culpable are those who lend money to our leaders, knowing full well that the terms of payment will not be met. Our appeal to countries and agencies willing to loan money: Please don’t! Keep your Dollars, Yuan, Francs, Euros, Yens and Pounds to yourselves…. unless you are making an outright gift.

 

In Laudato Si’ 52 Pope Francis links the issues of foreign debt and ecological debt. The developing world has immense capacity to absorb the excessive environmental burden placed on the planet by the richer countries. If biosphere services of our forests were assigned their true finacial value of sequestering carbon dioxide, then perhaps they could help to pay some of the foreign debt. Our developing countries should thus be more proactive in keeping our forests in the ground, rather than selling them off. But that’s another whole paper…..

Por una “ecología social”, ante los linchamientos en México.

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Miguel Sanchez |

Este no es un tema agradable desde luego; sin embargo, es pertinente abordarlo si recordamos que uno de los objetivos del First es proyectar la realidad, los sentimientos y el ambiente social de los lugares donde nos encontramos; y este tema desgraciadamente forma parte de la actualidad en México.

El fenómeno del “linchamiento físico” ha ido en aumento, y ha aparecido de forma alarmante en los últimos meses en los estados de Puebla e Hidalgo, entidades muy cercanas a la Ciudad de México. Dos expresiones brotan de forma espontánea en quienes se enteran de tan lamentables sucesos: una es de beneplácito, argumentando que seguramente las víctimas lo tenían merecido por cometer delitos, como el robo o el secuestro; la otra expresión es de indignación, lamentando que en pleno siglo XXI existan en México turbas ignorantes, a quienes al parecer no ha llegado la civilización, o bien, señalando ¿cómo es posible que siendo esos pueblos tan católicos asesinen sin piedad a seres humanos?

Sin embargo, un pequeño acercamiento a algunos estudios sociológicos deja ver que el linchamiento se entiende mejor dentro del contexto social en el que sucede. Su misma definición es esclarecedora en este sentido: “el linchamiento es una situación de abuso y absoluta asimetría en la que se busca imponer un castigo físico multitudinario, bajo el pretexto de ejercer la justicia que el Estado no provee.”[1]

En el estudio antes citado se pregunta si estos hechos son producto de “un déficit de ciudadanía”, una “contraposición de sistemas normativos”, un “medio de control social”, una manifestación de los “usos y costumbres del México bronco[2]” que todavía persiste. Pero no existe prueba sociológica o geográfica documental que permita responder afirmativamente a estos cuestionamientos. Los linchamientos son más bien heterogéneos, ya que son variados tanto en su geografía como en sus tiempos y en su tipo de población.

Lo que sí es notorio es la existencia de dos constantes perfectamente documentadas: la primera es el aumento en las últimas décadas de la falta de procuración de justicia por parte de las autoridades y del debilitamiento del Estado de Derecho. La segunda es el crecimiento rampante de la inseguridad social, debido al crecimiento de la delincuencia organizada: asaltos, secuestros, fraudes telefónicos, etc., lo cual ha permeado el de forma notoria nuestra sensibilidad social. En los últimos casos de linchamiento existen denuncias por parte de la ciudadanía de un gran número de delitos, y el silencio y la omisión por parte de las autoridades para hacer su trabajo. Ante esta situación de miseria e injusticia “que clama al cielo”[3], el rumor de que cualquier desconocido es delincuente corre como reguero de pólvora. Una vez más el monstruo de la corrupción vuelve a sacar su cabeza causal.

Ahora bien, en el espíritu de trazar alguna directriz que nos permita ir más allá del horror, el Papa Francisco indica dos claves interpretativas e iluminadoras: “la ecología social” y “la ecología de la vida cotidiana.”[4]

La primera consiste en establecer relaciones humanas, desde lo primario hasta los complejos sociales, resguardadas y reguladas por instituciones que garantizan la libertad, la justicia y la no-violencia, donde juegan un papel primordial las personas, la sociedad civil, y desde luego, el Estado.

La segunda procura un ambiente social de armonía, amplitud e integración social entre los habitantes de los barrios. Por el contrario, el hacinamiento provoca desarraigo y conflictos violentos, muchos de ellos promovidos y aprovechados por grupos criminales, como hemos visto que ha está sucediendo en México. Tanto la precariedad en la participación social de los habitantes, como una autoridad estatal omisa o corrupta, provocan la anomia y el dominio de la criminalidad y la violencia[5].

En el mismo sentido, el Papa Francisco propone el compromiso con la ecología social en términos de amor, pero llevándolo al ámbito de lo civil y lo político, tanto en forma de macro-relaciones como en pequeños gestos de cuidado mutuo[6].

Estas orientaciones son auténticas estrategias programáticas, que pueden ejecutarse a través de grupos de reflexión u organizaciones sociales y civiles, tanto en las familias como entre vecinos o en grupos de estudiantes, desde bachillerato hasta universitarios. Desde luego que también entre grupos parroquiales. En la medida en que tratemos estos temas, desde las problemáticas hasta las estrategias programáticas, avanzaremos en la incidencia social para colaborar con soluciones pequeñas pero efectivas.

En nuestras manos personales, comunitarias y sociales está la posibilidad de participar, desarrollar y difundir tanto reflexiones como acciones y gestos que mitiguen la profunda crisis de justicia social, especialmente en las diversas periferias, territoriales y simbólicas, en las que se encuentra tan enrarecido y enfermo nuestro ambiente social. Un ambiente que está, por encima de todo, permeado de la esperanza activa de la mayoría de las personas, de diversas edades y ocupaciones, que construyen una sociedad mejor, aún a costa de pagar el precio que el profetismo implica.



[1] Elisa Godínez, Los linchamientos en México: más allá del escándalo, disponible en: https://horizontal.mx Comunidad | Octubre 26, 2015. (Consultado el 17 de septiembre de 2018).

[2] “Bronco” es un adjetivo que, en general, se emplea en México para hacer referencia a una personalidad indómita, de temperamento hosco, brusco o difícil de controlar.

[3] Documento de Medellín n. 1.1 refiriendo a la Encíclica Populorum Progressio n° 30. Enlace: http://www.diocese-braga.pt/catequese/sim/biblioteca/publicacoes_online/91/medellin.pdf

[5] LS n. 197.

[6] LS n. 231.

Compassionate caning: To educate not hurt the person

1 Comment(s) | Posted | by Sharon Bong |

“In Shariah (Islamic law) caning, it is not meant to hurt the person. It is to educate the person. Therefore it’s not painful, it’s not harsh” says Muslim Lawyers Association deputy president Abdul Rahim Sinwan.

 

Abdul Rahim refers to the recent controversy in Malaysia where two Muslim women were caned six times each (on the back with a light rattan cane by female prison officers) for allegedly attempting to have “lesbian sex” in a publicly parked car. They were caned in full view of 100 witnesses in the Shariah court in the conservative northeast state of Terengganu. Despite the public caning, Abdul Rahim maintains that “humiliation is out of the question”.[i] He adds that, the 22-year-old and 32-year-old women, “did not cry or scream but "showed remorse…Repentance is the ultimate aim for their sin" (in fact, only the younger one was sobbing).[ii]

 

Public outcry led to a chorus of condemnation of this first-time “conviction for same-sex relations” and public caning of women. Thilaga Sulathireh, from the transgender-advocacy NGO, Justice for Sisters who witnessed the caning, “was shocked by the public spectacle” amounting to torture and cruelty that violated the rights of the women. Legislator Charles Santiago said, “the government must repeal all laws that criminalise homosexuality” (with reference to Section 377, a British colonial legacy). Most pertinently, the illegality of the punishment, despite the dual-track legal system that Muslims in Malaysia are subjected to (Federal or civil law and Islamic or family and personal law), was called to question as it runs counter to Constitutional provisions on the fundamental liberties of its rakyat (citizens).[iii] The Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s initial reaction was concern that the caning “gave a bad impression of Islam and did not reflect the religion’s quality of justice”. He later maintains that, Malaysia will not recognise LGBT culture or same-sex marriage as these are “Western values”.[iv] 

 

To navigate one’s way around the morass of secular and religious ethics involved in the public hurting and humiliation of two Muslim Malaysian women (which sets an insidious nod of approval to state-sponsored sexual and gender-based violence), is to discern what it means to be a person created in the image of Allah or God. What moral compass affords the promise of “sensitivity”, “serenity” and “sincerity”, as exhorted in Amoris Laetitia (2016), the post-synodal apostolic exhortation by Pope Francis on pastoral care for the family that comprises human persons.[v] To “avoid a cold bureaucratic morality in dealing with [irregular situations such as same-sex desires or unions]…pastoral discernment [should be] filled with merciful love…[that] lead us to ‘open our hearts to those living in the outermost fringes of society’” [paragraph 312].

 

Fringed within the heteronormative and heterosexist constructs of the state, family and religious communities, LGBT persons are treated inhumanely because they are rendered inhuman particularly if they are brazen enough to exercise their right to (irregular) sexual pleasure rather than adopt celibacy or heterosexuality. There is no compassionate caning. There is only cruel torture meted out by those who can, not because they care.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[i] Palansamy, Y. (2018, September 2). Terengganu duo publicly caned six times over lesbian sex attemptMalay Mail. Retrieved from https://www.malaymail.com/s/1668766/terengganu-duo-publicly-caned-six-times-over-lesbian-sex-attempt

[ii] Al Jazeera. (2018, September 4). Malaysia: Women caned in public for lesbian act. Retrieved from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/09/malaysia-women-caned-public-lesbian-act-180903155056114.html

[iii] Sreenevasan, A. and Ding, J. (2018, September 18). Terengganu caning: Was it constitutional? Malay Mail. Retrieved from

https://www.malaymail.com/s/1673738/terengganu-caning-was-it-constitutional

[iv] LGBT or same-sex marriage not for Malaysia, says Dr M. (2018, September 22). The Star Online. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/09/22/lgbt-or-samesex-marriage-not-for-malaysia-says-dr-m/

El dolor y la esperanza de la Iglesia chilena

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Claudia Leal Luna |

Nada nos podía hacer prever las dimensiones de lo que estamos viviendo. Ni en el peor de los
escenarios que nuestra imaginación pudiera proyectar podíamos pensar en Enero pasado que ocho
meses después de la visita de Francisco la Fiscalía habría allanado los tribunales eclesiásticos de cuatro
diócesis para recabar información; que la Conferencia Episcopal en pleno habría presentado al Papa su
renuncia (cinco obispos hasta el momento han sido reemplazados por administradores apostólicos); que
semana tras semana seríamos bombardeados con nuevas denuncias de abuso de poder y sexual; que
tendríamos que ver a un obispo – renunciado pero aún en ejercicio – saliendo por la ventana de su
oficina para no responder las preguntas de los periodistas; que nos cansaríamos de las peticiones de
perdón y que clamaríamos por acciones concretas, entre otras muchas escenas que nos han regalado
estos meses convulsos.
La peor de las tentaciones en este momento es pretender simplistamente juzgar y separar el bien del
mal; trazar una línea divisoria entre buenos y malos, entre los que se han equivocado y los que no. Esa
tentación aparece todo el tiempo; cuando algunos prefieren hablar de “casos de abuso” en lugar de
aludir sin eufemismos a la “cultura de abuso y de encubrimiento” de la cual el mismo Francisco ha
hablado en su “Carta al Pueblo de Dios que peregrina en Chile” 1 , cuando se sitúa el pecado solo en un
estamento de la Iglesia – en los obispos, en los sacerdotes, en los homosexuales, ¡en los varones! -,
cuando se insinúa que el problema está en la Iglesia conservadora y no en la liberal. Buscamos
explicaciones que alivianen el hecho que durante años la Iglesia fue desplazando a Cristo del centro de
su vida, y se fue poniendo a sí misma al centro: su fama, su poder, su influencia, su status, hasta quedar
convertida en una caricatura. Nos parecemos a los discípulos de Emaús, intentamos hacer el camino de
regreso en medio de nuestra confusión, sintiendo que nos arde el corazón pero con los ojos todavía
nublados por todo lo que hemos visto.
La verdad es que todos quienes hemos sido parte de la iglesia católica chilena en las últimas tres o
cuatro décadas hemos sido también parte, de algún modo, de esa cultura de abuso y de encubrimiento.
Quizás porque no sabíamos cómo actuar de frente a quienes vivían una doble vida, o por haber
justificado el bien de la institución por encima del de sus miembros, por haber convertido el relato de
un abuso en un chisme de pasillo en lugar de un problema de justicia, por haber tolerado el uso
ambiguo del poder y haber sido condescendientes con quienes detentaban la autoridad. El abuso sexual
no es sino el último eslabón de una cadena de pequeños abusos de poder que comienza mucho antes, y
es imprescindible asumir que debemos aprender a actuar en esas etapas tempranas, cuando todavía no
ha sido quebrada la dignidad de quien soporta el abuso. Todavía estamos muy lejos de poseer el
instrumental conceptual y ético que nos permita estar a la altura de la tarea, pero muchos hemos
comenzado a trabajar desde nuestro lugar.
Es indiscutible que la jerarquía eclesiástica ha perdido su credibilidad y su autoridad, y que deberá
trabajar seria y arduamente para volver a legitimarse en la esfera pública. Parte importante de esa
legitimación irá de la mano con su capacidad de dar cuerpo a una nueva ética vocacional y profesional
del sacerdocio que supere una teología trascendentalista que ha impedido sistemáticamente hablar de
algo tan concreto como los derechos y deberes del sacerdote. Porque de la misma manera que esta
crisis ha dejado al descubierto el sufrimiento de quienes han sido abusados, ha puesto también en
evidencia la precariedad en que muchos sacerdotes ejercen su ministerio.
1 http://www.iglesia.cl/documentos_sac/31052018_1142am_5b1017d532c3f.pdf

Pero también hay una serie de otros desafíos tanto o más importantes que tocan a todos los creyentes y,
en definitiva, a la sociedad chilena. Es imprescindible, por ejemplo, que las voluntades políticas,
eclesiales y sociales en general se unan para crear una “comisión de verdad y reparación” que cumpla
con los estándares internacionales y asuma la tarea de documentar los relatos de las víctimas y definir
vías de reparación. Es necesario entender en profundidad los eventos causales que condujeron a la
iglesia católica chilena hasta este punto, de manera que toda la sociedad pueda implementar medidas
que prevengan una nueva crisis como la que vivimos. Todo este aprendizaje podrá ser útil, además,
cuando otras iglesias del continente vivan situaciones semejantes.
Por último, un asunto que me parece importante mencionar y poner en relación con lo anterior, es la
situación de las mujeres. En lo que va del año se han producido en Chile 26 femicidios consumados y
80 frustrados (en 2017 hubo 44 consumados), las protestas feministas no han cesado y las demandas
por justicia se multiplican. En este escenario son más necesarias que nunca las voces proféticas que
anuncien la dignidad de los hijos y las hijas de Dios, que construyan una iglesia donde todos y todas
podemos experimentar la vida en abundancia que Jesús nos ofrece, sin que haya miembros de primera,
segunda y tercera categoría.
¿Algún signo de esperanza? Claro que sí, muchos llegan desde la iglesia universal a partir del impulso
del Papa Francisco 2 y de las propias mujeres consagradas 3 , y otras de las organizaciones laicales que
ha comenzado a tomar la posta de la vida cristiana a lo largo de todo Chile. Se siente en ellas un latido
conciliar, que habla de sinodalidad, de autonomía, de discernimiento; esas voces que el Concilio
Vaticano II nos regaló, y que seguramente son las que pueden devolvernos la posibilidad de una iglesia
donde todos cabemos, pero donde los importantes son los que ocupaban el primer lugar en el proyecto
de Jesús.

2 Se crea la Comisión de Estudio sobre el Diaconado de las mujeres: https://es.zenit.org/articles/se-reune-en-el-vaticano-la-
comision-de-estudio-sobre-el-diaconado-femenino/
3 Asamblea Plenaria de las Superioras Generales (UISG) con el Papa Francisco (13/05/2016):
https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/es/bollettino/pubblico/2016/05/13/monjas.html

Good News: Junior Scholars Column on the CTEWC Forum ( by Anne Celestine Achieng Oyier Ondigo & Alexandre Martins)

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Anne Celestine Achieng Oyier Ondigo |

The 3rd International Conference of the Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church was a time of kairos for all participants in this meeting, held in Sarajevo in July 2018. Catholic theological ethicists from almost 80 countries gathered in a city that its recent history led these ethicists to commit themselves to work of building bridges in a world that has faced the constant challenge of division and intolerance. The conference began with a letter from Pope Francis who strengthened the Catholic ethicists to continue their service to the Church through their intellectual work, and encouraged them to “be passionate for such dialogue and networking.”

            Networking was one of the goals of this conference. All those gathered in Sarajevo were open to this goal, in a way that they could lead a web of solidarity and collaboration among Catholic ethicists around the world. So, CTEWC can be a network of men and women who dialogue, work, and support one another to contribute to the construction of bridges of tolerance, justice, and peace in their local realities and globally. Building bridges was the theme of this conference. This began with networking, that is, the creation of bridges of collaboration and support among theological ethicists who were in Sarajevo, open and committed to include others who were not there, and between Catholic ethicists and other areas of the Church and the secular society.

            A significant number of attendees in Sarajevo were junior scholars, that is, young Catholic ethicists who are at the beginning of their academic career. CTEWC, especially its founder James Keenan, has always been aware of the importance of supporting the new generation of Catholic theological ethicists. Since the first international meeting in Padua (2012), CTWEC has invited and sponsored junior scholars to be part of international meetings and collaborate in CTEWC initiatives. In Sarajevo, 140 people were junior scholars. Their significative presence made the CTEWC create the new scholars committee, a brain child of Keenan.

            In a planning committee meeting in Sarajevo in July 2017, Keenan proposed the creation of the new scholars committee, and the planning committee for the 3rd international conference assisted in identifying the new scholars committee members. Thus, the new scholars committee evolved from the main planning committee. The purpose of the new scholars committee was to help the junior scholars meet naturally as new acquaintances, in a dinner at Sarajevo held at the Pod Lipom Restaurant, sponsored by CTEWC. The new scholars committee was shaped by six ethicists from different countries, representing five continents. During dinner, junior scholars had an opportunity for engaging in great conversations about their work, their areas of interest and research, their teaching experience, their local realities, the challenges they face, their future plans, among other subjects they certainly talked about, and, of course, they had fun. The hope was that this dinner would help people to meet new colleagues and create a network.

During the conference, the members of the new scholars committee itself were able to network and connect. At Sarajevo they were able to arrange for their first meeting where they brainstormed ideas about how they could motivate the network that began among this large group of young scholars. Many ideas were raised and now they need to be matured. However, the committee members decided to keep together and continue their linkage and be inspired. In the meeting, the members of the committee suggested establishing a new monthly column for junior scholars in the CTEWC forum, The First. This idea was accepted by the CTEWC’s central committee. The new column will be written only by the junior scholars from different countries. This aims to showcase the voices of emerging scholars, giving an opportunity for them to present issues they face at the beginning of their career, and creating a new space for dialogue and solidarity among Catholic ethicists.  In this forum, Alexandre Martins (Brazil) will serve as the facilitator and he will work with Anne Celestine Achieng (Kenya), Jutta Battenberg (Mexico), Gregoire Catta (France), Kaithavana ‘Jijo’ Geevarghese (India), Maria Isabel Gil Espinosa (Colombia), Kristin Meneses (The Philippines) and Jeremy Cruz (US). We hope that this motivates you as a junior scholar to write on ethical issues in the world and engage in the dialogue at the Forum section in The First.

Finally, the new scholars committee invites you to send suggestions of how this committee can strengthen the junior scholars network, and ideas for collaborative projects to be developed in the future. Messages can be sent to alexandre.martins@marquette.edu

Building Bridges, not Walls, for the Future

1 Comment(s) | Posted | by Shawnee M. Daniels-Sykes |

As most readers of the Forum know, the Third International Conference of Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church (CTEWC) took place in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina from July 26-29, 2018. I was elated that about 500 Moral Theologians from across the globe would convene there together to pray, to reflect, to present papers, to examine ethical topics, and to interrogate overall the conference title “A Critical Time for Bridge-Building: Catholic Theological Ethics Today.”  I am grateful for the honor of presenting my thoughts on North American initiatives of networking for social impact at the conference’s sixth international plenary panel, here my reflections emerge and capture the symbolic and timely theme of ‘Bridge-Building.’

Given the perpetual international news cycles that report an exponential increase in the numbers of border walls or fences that are constructed or have been constructed over the years, these structures have numerous implications among which are those that willfully divide and ignore conditions adversely affecting the human family, including environmental degradation. Whereas the erection of border walls and barbed-wire fences are purported to be a way in which governments prevent security threats, they remind many of us instead of the refusal of government officials to help and to support immigrants, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers who struggle for safe spaces and places to live and work and play. These officials champion the vitriolic language of inhospitality that “you are not welcome here,” of rejection of the seemingly other, of hegemonic and destructive acts against poor, vulnerable, and marginalized people, of the disposability and lack of reverence and respect for human life. For example, as a USA citizen, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I am mindful of the horrendous and pathetic situation at the US/Mexican border, where this vitriol plays out daily: refugees and immigrants are accused of breaking the law and are taken into custody while fleeing from threats to their lives. As news outlets report, thousands of children at the border were separated from their parents/guardians and many, even among those seeking asylum, have been convicted and deported to their countries of origin –some with, others without their children. Children have been misplaced or lost, while others have suffered injury and/or died in US Custody. Although a physical barrier might not have kept immigrants and refugees from crossing the US/Mexican border, federal and local courts imply a wall of separation between those who are citizens of the United States and those who are not in place of bridges that could accommodate encounter.

Thus, rather than focus on divisive structures intended to separate the human family and/or to provoke chaos and confusion, I want to raise the ‘Bridge-Building’ at the CTEWC Conference in Sarajevo that both facilitated and demonstrated the personal and scholarly connections between us. Moral theologians from vastly diverse backgrounds of geographic, language, ethnic, racial, class, gender and employment overcame what could have divided us ideologically or otherwise to accommodate and engage difference.

With a specific focus in mind about ‘Bridge-Building,’ those gathered were well-aware that an urgent need persists for a more robust global ethics that speaks to the urgency of social justice and social transformation. Such an ethics can emerge with concerted collaborative efforts among us that engage social justice in innovative ways through networks of and for change amidst the moans, groans, and cries of the earth and all its peoples.

The 2018 CTEWC conference planners were deliberate and intentional in focusing on the Southern Hemisphere, giving priority to moral theologians from Africa, Central and South America, and Asia as registered participants and paper presenters. With this priority and cognizant of the fact that North American and Western European voices often dominate theological academies and conferences, the conference offered an example of ‘Bridge-Building’ between scholars from the Global South and their neighbors in North America and Europe.

Another creative way of ‘Bridge-Building’ was modeled with showcasing the voices and research interests of new and junior scholars from the Global South, as many both attended their first CTEWC meeting and some had their first-time opportunity to deliver papers at an international conference.

Another opportunity of ‘Bridge-Building’ involved the intentional informal/conversational engagement between scholars during the poster presentation sessions. Dedicated time for those sessions allowed all conference attendees to participate. There senior and junior scholars had opportunities to convey their scholarly interests, research perspectives, results, and insights to interested interlocutors, who posed questions, offered commentaries, and engaged in healthy debates.

As with the conference overall, an agenda of developing interest in global collaborations among those present was key. Clearly, the notion of ‘Bridge-Building’ and the examples I shared do not happen by chance. As most things are, Bridge-Building, too, is a really slow and arduous process that will take more than my life time to come to fruition. In both the Church and society, we have spent an exponentially longer amount of time—centuries—constructing walls to separate and divide us on an enormous host of ideas and thoughts, behaviors and acts, than time we have spent or deliberately engaged global processes of ‘Bridge-Building.’ But, what better way to engage this process than at an international ethics conference engaging a theme with implications for the future? A four day gathering in Sarajevo brought 500 Moral Theologians together to grapple with Bridge-Building: “to appreciate the challenge of pluralism; to dialogue from and beyond local culture; and to interconnect within a world church not dominated solely by a nort

PROTESTS AGAINST SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES IN VIETNAM

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Hoa Trung Dinh |

On June 10, 2018, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Hanoi, Da Nang, Binh Thuan, Nha Trang, Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Vung Tau and Ho Chi Minh City to protest against the government’s plan to create three new special economic zones that they fear will fall into the hands of Chinese investors.  Many protesters, including Catholics, held  placards that read “No Special Zone — No leasing land to China — Even for one day!” and “Leasing land to China is selling our country.”

Demonstrators were dispersed with force by police.  Over a hundred people were arrested and interrogated. 

The draft law would allow the establishment of three special administrative and economic units: Van Don in northern Quang Ninh province, Bac Van Phong in central Khanh Hoa province and Phu Quoc in southern Kien Giang province.  These special zones would offer investors greater incentives and fewer restrictions than available in the country at present.  Foreign investors would be allowed 70 to 99-year leases of land, and could benefit from various forms of tax exemption and immigration privileges in these zones.

While Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc insisted that the draft law would create favourable conditions to attract foreign investment to priority industries in these zones, which in turn would spearhead economic growth in the rest of the country, leading economist Vũ Quang Việt is not convinced.  He points out that the proposed incentives would only encourage property developments and casino projects, and would not enhance the hi-tech industries that Vietnam needs to boost its economy.  “These special zones would hardly attract any form of clean hi-tech industries…for the draft law mainly focuses on property and casino markets, and this directive must be re-examined.  The problem is that group interests are put first in any decision related to foreign investment or foreign loan, without any consideration of the potential long term risks and benefits.”

Academic and analyst Nguyen Quang Dy points to the appalling consequences of the other 18 special economic zones in Vietnam.  Most recently, the Formosa Steel Plant in Vung Ang, and Bauxite project in Tan Rai and Nhan Co have led to enormous damages to the environment and displacement of the local communities.  Without radical revisions of the structures of accountability and anti-corruption measures, Nguyen fears that the failures of these economic zones will be repeated again in these special zones.  Nguyen points to the influence of the “interest groups” (nhóm lợi ích) in the country, the new elite of Vietnamese businessmen and real estate investors who are allegedly working in collusion with Chinese investors. These interest groups only act on self interest without any regard for the impacts upon the economy, society, or national security. 

While China is militarizing and controlling the East Sea, forbidding Vietnamese citizens from fishing and drilling for oil in our own waters, they will surely look to expand their powers by taking control of strategic places on land.  Special economic zones are easy prey to their greed.  The interest groups in Vietnam might be colluding with the Chinese to influence and capitalize on this project.” Nguyen wrote.

Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop, head of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Vietnam, maintains that the draft law “contains many risks and can potentially harm our national interests, especially our security and sovereignty.”

In his petition addressed to the National Assembly chairperson on June 8, Bishop Hop points out that the model of special administrative- economic units is now outdated and not suitable for economic development in the technological revolution era.

He insists that the heavy concessions on tax, land lease periods and deregulation in business sectors would "surely bring extraordinary profits to foreign speculators and interest groups at home."

The prelate argues that the most important factors that attract long term foreign investments are proper economic policies, a reliable legal system, effective administrative structure and transparent judicial process, rather than short term concessions in some special zones.

Bishop Hop also points to the location of the three proposed zones: each of these has great strategic significance for national security and sovereignty, especially in the present climate when China is seeking to expand its influence in the region and building military bases in the South China Sea.

The prelate suggests that the government be attentive to the opinions of Vietnamese citizens at every level and hold a referendum on the draft before approval.

It is indeed a rare event since unification under Communist rule that Vietnamese citizens insisted on being heard in regard to a draft law.  Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop once again is on the side of the people, sharing in their joys and hopes, their griefs and anxieties, and calling for greater participation of citizens in the common proc

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