Forum Submissions





October 2019

United Kingdom Anna Abram Ecclesial Ethics- a Way Forward?
  Kenya Teresia Hinga Justice, Dignity, Accompaniment and the Theo-Ethical Challenge of "Neurodiversity": A Reflection
  Philippines Eric Genilo Children in Conflict with the Law
  Brazil Maria Inês Castro Millen

Ética Entre Poder e Autoridade

  United States Alexandre Martins Global Health and the Voices of the Poor: Inverting the Problematic Top-Down Approach
  United States Gerald Beyer CTEWC in Sarajevo One Year After

September 2019

United States Thomas Massaro 2019: The Summer of Our Discontent
  Chile   Claudia Leal

Notas para una espiritualidad familiar en salida

  Philippines Kristin Meneses

Recto-22: The Blurred Stance of Mr. Duterte and his cohorts on the Common Good and Sovereign-Human Rights

  Japan Osamu Takeuchi Life and Beauty
   Kenya  Peter Knox  To Whom Does the Amazon Belong?
   Germany  Marianne Heimbach-Steins  

The Global Ecological Crisis and the Global Common Good

July 2019

Australia Hoa Trung Dinh Australia's Plenary Council 2020: Discerning God's Voice in the 21st Century
  India Geevarghese Kaithavana “Grace Filling Families”: Reading Amoris Laetitia in the Context of Syro-Malankara Church
  United States Aline Kalbian How Much Space is Enough?
  Argentina Emilce Cuda BAJO EL PESO DE LA LEY
  United Kingdom Tina Beattie Gender Theory and Catholic Education
  Kenya Peter Knox UN Habitat Assembly

June 2019

France Gregoire Catta Yellow Vests... and Beyond!
  United States Mary Margaret Doyle Roche Dispatch and Appeal from Worcester, MA
  Brazil Elio Gasda El Bolsonarismo, una teopolitica fundamentalista neoliberal
  Malaysia Sharon Bong Whose Dignity?: Abolishing Child Marriage for the Girl Child
  Kenya  Teresia Hinga

Acknowledging Cucu /Pim/Grandma Power: Agency, Wisdom and Elder(ly) Civic Engagement

   Czech Republic Petr Štica  Civil Protests and Theological Ethics

May 2019

 South Africa  Anthony Egan Power Outrage

Anne Celestine Achieng Oyier Ondigo 

The Self-Defense in Valuing Human Life
  Germany Sigrid Mueller Sin and Evil in the Church: Some reflections originating from Pope Emeritus Benedict’s recent letter
  Hong Kong Mary Yuen City Planning to Serve Ordinary People or Those in Power?
  United States Mary Margaret Doyle Roche Confessions of a Parent on a College Tour

April 2019

 United States  Emily Reimer-Barry  

Does catechism class groom young people for sexual abuse?

   Austria  Martin Lintner   

Ethics of eating meat: a reflection (not only) for Lent

   Kenya  Peter Knox UNEA4
  Philippines   Ramon Echica  The Moral Theologian in the Time of Populism
   Mexico  Jutta Battenberg  

La protección de menores en la Iglesia

  Jamaica   Anna Perkins

“Not Everything Good to Eat, Good to Talk”: The Antilles Bishops and the Buggery Laws


March 2019

 Cameroon  Solange Ngah  The Case of Miracles in Africa Today
   United States  Jason King  Exclusion and Method in Moral Theology
   Ireland  Suzanne Mulligan  

The Occupied Territories Bill: A Superficial Gesture or a Moment of Solidarity?

  India Stanislaus Alla Legal Attempts to Rob Land from India's Indigenous
   Mexico Miguel Angel Sanchez La ética en la sociedad mexicana: de la indiferencia de "las aguas tranquilas" a la vorágine 
  Nigeria Anthonia Ojo Vote-Buying and Selling as Violation of Human Rights: The Nigerian Experience

February 2019

Colombia Maria Isabel Gil Espinosa 

Porque era forastero, refugiado, desplazado, migrante y me acogiste

   Puerto Rico  Jorge José Ferrer

The 10/90 Gap, Global Health Inequities, and Social Justice

   United States  Ramón Luzárraga  The Naivete behind the Federal Government Shutdown
   Kenya  Teresia Hinga  Kwanzaa’s Nguzo Saba. A Timely And Much Needed Retrieval Of Afro Ubuntu Ethics For Enhanced Flourishing In The African Diaspora And Beyond
   Indonesia  Dionius B. Mahamboro  Indonesia’s Winding Road to Democracy: Facing Fake News and Hoaxes
   Spain  Diego Alonso-Lasheras  New Challenges to Religious Freedom

January 2019

 South Africa  Anthony Egan A Conversation in Eternity: A Christmas Contemplation
   Australia  Caroline Ong  Update on the Victorian Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) Act, Australia
   United States  Ramón Luzárraga  La lucha de los Estados Unidos contra la xenofobia anti-inmigrante
   United States  Alexandre Martins End of the Year: Teaching Evaluations
   Germany  Katharina Klöcker  The "Geneticization" of Our Society
  United States Mary Jo Iozzio Amidst the Tragedies and Violence that Mark Human History, Peace to All

December 2018

 Argentina Pablo Blanco 50 Years of Medellin: A Crucial Event for the Whole church to be Updated
  Myanmar Peter Pojol The Disturbing Stance of Aung San Suu Kyi
  Kenya Peter Knox Child Protection- Still a Long Way to Go
  Hungary  Gusztáv Kovács  From the Sacristy to the School: The Challenge of Religious Education in Hungary
  United States   Mary M. Doyle Roche  Open Wide Our Hearts
  Philippines  Kristine Meneses Christmas: A Reminder to Include and be in Communion with the Other and Another-Other

Aníbal Torres

Características del liderazgo político necesario para enfrentar la crisis mundial

November 2018


Geevarghese Kaithavana

Resonance of Gender Equality in India

Gregor Buss

Jewish Responses to Laudato Sí

Michael Jaycox

A Climate of Fear, Incompetence, and Possibility

     Osamu Takeuchi

 The Judgment of Human Beings and the Forgiveness of God

Alexandre A. Martins
Democracy, Economic System, Hate and Fear: Elections in Brazil
Teresia Hinga
Standing in Healing Solidarity with Lumo Sinai (and Thousands Like Her): Acknowledging One Man Who Does

October 2018

  Ingeborg Gabriel Time to Renew the Church's Commitment to Women
    Grégoire Catta  Universal?
     Thomas Massaro  The "Wound of the Border"
     Peter Knox  New Debt Crisis

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?
   United Kingdom  Julie Clague  Structural injustice revisited
   United States  Mary Jo Iozzio  The US Affordable Care Act: Modest Success

September 2016 


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

 Hong Kong

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

 United  Kingdom

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

July 2016

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

 Thomas Massaro and Mary Jo Iozzio

Padova: Ten Years Later and …

June 2016

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

May 2016

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

April 2016

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

March 2016

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

February 2016

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

January 2016

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

December 2015

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

November 2015

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

October 2015

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

September 2015

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

August 2015

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

July 2015

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

June 2015

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

May 2015

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

April 2015

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

March 2015

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

February 2015

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

January 2015

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

December 2014

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

November 2014

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

October 2014

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

September 2014

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

June 2014

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

May 2014

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

April 2014

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

March 2014

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

February 2014

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

December 2013

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

November 2013

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

October 2013

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

September 2013

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

August 2013

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

July 2013

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

June 2013

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

May 2013

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

April 2013

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

March 2013

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

January 2013

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

December 2012

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

November 2012

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

October 2012

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

September 2012

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

August 2012

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

July 2012

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

June 2012

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

May 2012

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

March 2012

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

February 2012

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

December 2011

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

November 2011

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

October 2011

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

August 2011

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

July 2011

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


Alexandre Martin

CTEWC in Sarajevo One Year After

5 Comment(s) | Posted | by Gerald Beyer |

 “…despite the many books written about the war, and read and interpreted according to various ideological matrixes, both the country and the war against it remain, for the most part, misunderstood. Bosnia is the only European country that throughout its history has been entirely based upon a unity of religious differences, the very differences that are central to the peace and stability of the world of the coming millennium.”

                        Rusmir Mahmutćehajić in Learning from Bosnia: Approaching Tradition (2005)


In February 2018 my youngest brother lost his nine-year battle with leukemia. As one would expect, Jamie’s death caused my family tremendous pain and grief. For me, it also instigated a crisis of meaning and the questioning of my vocation. I found myself asking why bother doing the work of Christian ethics when we know we cannot alleviate the tremendous suffering and senseless deaths of so many people?

 The CTEWC conference in Sarajevo was the blessing I needed to move forward in my work as a teacher and student of Catholic theological ethics. Being among so many sisters and brothers from around the globe who “labor in the vineyard” consoled me. Hearing about the incredible work CTEWC members are doing energized me. In a particularly powerful way, the presentations of the members of “Youth for Peace” in Bosnia and Herzegovina broke through my despair and rekindled my hope in humanity and in our world. Elma Bešlić's reflections -about being a child of war lucky enough to survive, build friendships with people from different faith and ethnic backgrounds, and work towards peace—pierced the veil of grief that had enveloped me. She and her “Youth for Peace” colleagues renewed my belief that peace and human dignity are worth striving for, even if the near-term results do not fulfill our deepest longings for what we expect of the Heavenly Kingdom. 

I have long been fascinated by Central and Eastern Europe. In the 1990s I spent three years in Poland, where the Solidarność movement and its nonviolent struggle against the Communist regime stirred my moral imagination. I tried to make sense of the movement’s demise and the suffering wrought by economic “shock therapy” in my book Recovering Solidarity: Lessons from Poland’s Unfinished Revolution (University of Notre Dame Press, 2010). The CTEWC conference afforded me my first trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina and has prompted me to learn more about this beautiful country: its rich history, recent tragic war and genocide, and resilient people engaged in peacebuilding. Bosnia’s unique history of interreligious cooperation and peaceful coexistence begs the question of how the horrors of April 1992-November 1995 could take place. I wonder too, what initiatives in transitional justice and peacebuilding have helped BiH move towards sustainable peace, and which have faltered?  

I have spent most of my adult life trying to understand Poland, including learning the language. I am not an expert on Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, my brief time there last summer, which included trips to Mostar, Medjugorje, and Sutjeska National Park—and unforgettable encounters with wonderful and hospitable Bosnians—has encouraged me to learn more. I now read the Balkan Insight News Service and Radio Free Europe’s Balkans without Borders regularly.  I have revised my undergraduate theology course, previously devoted to solidarity and peacebuilding in Poland, to now include study of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We read and analyze texts on the causes of the war and genocide in BiH, peacebuilding in their aftermath, and the obstacles to sustainable peace. Generously, Elma Bešlić enhanced our discussion tremendously by videoconferencing with the class about her experiences in “Youth for Peace.” My students and I were amazed to learn about how “Youth for Peace” works towards mutual respect and understanding in ethnically segregated schools in BiH. In the course, we read sources that provided an “insider’s” view, such as musings from Mahmutćehajić’s Learning from Bosnia and Sarajevo Essays (2002), as well as Zilka Spahić Šiljak’s inspiring and enlightening book Shining Humanity: Life Stories of Women in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2014). Our course also included works from international scholars. For example, Michael Sell’s The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia (1998) enriched our understanding of “the complexity of the religious ideology of the violence” and the complicity of the international community. Sells cogently argues that while “some may have prevented genocide from attaining even greater proportions … the conditions for the genocide were made possible by particular Western policymakers.” Director Bill Carter’s documentary film Miss Sarajevo (1995) vividly brought home both the brutality of the siege of Sarajevo and the incredible determination of its inhabitants to live life each day. In short, we learned that there are hopeful signs of and heroic efforts towards sustainable peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina today. On the other hand, the “politics of identity and fear” threatens to derail these efforts, as Gordana Knezevic describes in "Bosnia in Crosshairs of Ethnic Nationalists and Their Allies." Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to read views like that of Bosnian journalist Aleksandar Brezar, who recently opined in "Bosnia is close to the edge. We need Europe's help" that “Bosnians are painfully aware that this multicultural, multi-ethnic project is under serious threat.”

 I plan on furthering my understanding of the unique place that reawakened me after my brother’s passing—a place virtually ignored in the United States. My institution has granted funding for a graduate student and me to attend the Summer School on Interreligious Studies and Peacebuilding in Sarajevo in July 2020. Our CTEWC hosts from the Catholic Theological Faculty in Sarajevo have developed this extraordinary program with the Faculty of the Islamic Sciences of Sarajevo University and the Orthodox Theological faculty of Saint Basil of Ostrog in Foča, University of East Sarajevo (for more information and applications visit I have also sought grant funding to hold a conference at Villanova, inspired, sadly, by the 25th anniversary of the genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia and Herzegovina to consider the methods, key actors, successes, and ongoing obstacles in the peacebuilding process since these tragedies. As associate editor of Horizons: The Journal of the College Theology Society, I have commissioned a roundtable on the responsibility of theologians and scholars of religion regarding genocide. CTEWC Colleagues from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Rwanda will contribute to it. In short, my teaching and research have taken a new trajectory since Sarajevo. I am indebted to the remarkable people I encountered in BiH, to our gracious hosts, and to the planners of the CTEWC Sarajevo conference for helping me to find purpose again. To all of them, I am most grateful!  

Global Health and the Voices of the Poor: Inverting the Problematic Top-Down Approach

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

On September 16th, 2019, I had a great opportunity to attend a one-day conference at Boston College on the “Ethical Challenge in Global Public Health: Climate Change, Pollution and the Health of the Poor.” As a result of this day, I share some of my impressions of this event that brought together an interdisciplinary group of scholars from different parts of the world.

            First of all, I was happy to see that BC brought ethical questions to the center of the global health debate aiming to have discussions grounded on values and principles able to promote the human dignity and population health. Although everyone recognizes that ethics is essential for the global health initiative and actions, it is not a topic commonly addressed in the global health field. On the side of ethics as a discipline, especially among bioethicists, global health is not their favorite theme. The field of bioethics, especially the one developed in the USA and its influence around the world, has neglected global health and its ethical concerns. This conference created a bridge between these two areas, that need one another, but have difficulty to dialogue.

            One of the speakers, Nils Henning, who has a broad international experience serving in humanitarian missions after natural and human-made disasters, ended his talk presenting some ethical principles needed to be embodied in the practice of health professionals in global health. An attendee asked him if these ethical principles have been discussed during the training of health professionals. His answer was “not really, they are not part of the curriculum.” But Henning affirmed that global health organizations should favor this discussion with professionals who come to work with them.

I have a feeling that ethics in health care is a standard that everyone assumes the professionals, especially after graduating from medical schools, are embodying in their practices. But things are not that simple, especially in a field of actions that have international dimensions.  Global health requires that professionals engage in different parts of the globe, meeting people from different cultures and worldviews. This in itself is enough to create ethical challenges that need to be reflected upon. Otherwise, global health initiatives can be another form of colonization, because it will be a top-down approach led by rich nations imposing their worldview and values into poor countries and communities.

            The top-down approach in global health is part of the mainstream. Many organizations, universities, and governmental sponsored projects in this field use this approach. I don’t question their good intentions, but I question their efficacy and their ethical respect for particularities and the self-determination of those people they aim to serve. In this conference, it seems that most people came to the agreement that global health actions must begin with local communities, valuing their knowledge, culture, and experiences. Thus, global health initiatives promote actions with local partners in order to create independence.

            However, an approach that begins from the bottom, empowering local communities, is not the one that some global health leading organizations embrace, such as the World Health Organization. Thana Cristina de Campos showed that centralization is the mainstream perspective in global health governance, with actions, projects, and systems being controlled by a central power in which the WHO would have, or even higher levels, such as the United Nations. According to Campos, lack of clear common ends, lack of inclusion of local communities, and lack of coordination are the main problems in global health governance, recognized by those who defend centralization, but this perspective cannot properly address these problems. Campos argued for a global health governance grounded on the principle of subsidiarity. This principle – that is in the Catholic social teaching and was included in the Treaty on European Union, Article 5 – creates a path for a global health governance that includes local experiences and communities, empowering and respecting their own particularities. This would occur because the principle of subsidiarity is based on three pillars: non-abandonment, non-absorption, and coordination. These three aspects are more appropriated to address the three main challenges for global health governance in a way that communities are agents of global health from their own reality, including their worldview.

            Campos’ suggestion of using the principle of subsidiarity for global health governance moves in the same direction of the perspective of global health promotion grounded on the preferential option for the poor developed by Alexandre A. Martins from his experience among the poor and emphasized by Michael Rozier and Lisa S. Cahill. This option directs global health initiatives to engage in local communities, considering the knowledge of locals and their experience in the midst of poverty. Therefore, the poor become active partners of global health and not only recipients of charitable actions from affluent nations.

As the question of justice is a central ethical challenge in global health, the preferential option for the poor offers a perspective that inverts the most common approach to health care, placing the poor and their voices as core partners in the effort of promoting global health. This works to break the vicious cycle created by impoverishment (poverty – vulnerability – illness - lack of health care – premature death). It is a perspective from below that respects particularities of local communities because the voices of the poor matter. Hence, it can address a common criticism that global health organizations promote a new form of colonialism because they create dependency and do not work for the empowerment of impoverished communities and their development from their own worldview and strengths.

            Paul Famer ended the conference stressing a preferential option for the poor in health care. Instead of developing a theoretical argument to show why this perspective is necessary for global health, he presented his practice and the work of Partners in Health grounded in the option for the poor in health care. He affirmed that his perspective is not in the mainstream of global health, but it should be.

            Although my impression is that most people at the conference support a global health perspective that begins from initiatives from and with local communities, empowering their experiences and supporting their agency, some people are not in favor of this way of action in global public health. These people still believe that they are the authority to promote global health action from a view of going to an impoverished region and simply acting for (and not with) the poor. No doubt this is a theme for more discussion and studies. The inclusion of ethics in the global health agenda and the global health in bioethical discussion will contribute to the development of the field, especially in its practical aspect of health care delivery in impoverished, diverse communities around the world.

Ética Entre Poder e Autoridade

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Maria Inés Castro Millen |

Em tempos de desprezo ao conhecimento, à reflexão crítica e ao diálogo sincero, realizar um Congresso deste porte é uma ousadia, mas também um reflexo da esperança que nos move. Acreditamos que um outro mundo é possível e que o caminho para isto passa por um processo formativo que valorize a ética cristã como uma ciência que aponta valores e indicativos de ação.

O tema proposto é instigante e permite várias abordagens que se apresentam em diálogo com as ciências e com o senso comum. Autoridade e poder são questões que nos desafiam desde sempre. Na contemporaneidade, vivemos a sensação de que muitos querem e conseguem estar no lugar do poder, mas nem todos têm autoridade para tal. O poder, como o conhecemos, é quase sempre vaidoso, arrogante, e até mesmo patologicamente narcísico. É também efêmero e é sempre poder sobre os outros. Um poder para os outros é o que a ética cristã nos propõe, mas ainda estamos longe de que isto se torne realidade, seja no contexto da sociedade civil ou religiosa.

Revisitar constantemente a vida de Jesus de Nazaré é fundamental para a compreensão do que queremos dizer. Ele nos mostrou que só há um poder desejável, por ser o único que confere autoridade, e este poder só se conquista através do amor repartido sem reservas.  Este amor oferente, que aparentemente vive de fracassos, é o único poder capaz de mudar o rumo da nossa história, curando pessoas, salvando vidas, cuidando para que os mais frágeis não sejam descartados.  Ouçamos o professor Altamir:

O poder de Jesus está em restaurar a vida, ameaçada pelos poderes de morte e opressão, vindos até mesmo do próprio Templo. As autoridades e os que dominam têm o poder de condenar e matar, mas o poder de Jesus se contrapõe, indicando que o serviço e a proximidade são a nova configuração de uma ética no meio das pessoas. [1]


Os poderosos deste mundo absolutizam o poder, neutralizam a ética e manipulam a moral e, por isso assumem o caminho oposto, aquele que propõe a submissão do outro, o ódio e a violência, real ou simbólica, até mesmo em nome de Deus. Apelam sempre para a lei que pune por não darem conta da misericórdia e do amor que perdoa. São cruéis e desumanos, opressores das pessoas e até capazes de eliminar todos os que os contestam ou desestabilizam. Gostam de homenagens e privilégios, buscam sempre os primeiros lugares, aprovam a sociedade do espetáculo, pois nela se percebem sempre em evidência e, para garantir o seu próprio poder, apelam para um Deus todo poderoso que desconhece a bondade.

Não entenderam a revelação de Jesus sobre a kénosis de Deus. Não entenderam que o verdadeiro poder é serviço. Não entenderam que “a carteira de identidade de Deus é a misericórdia”, como nos disse o Papa Francisco[2].

Por esta razão, julgamos que a reflexão ética que retoma as questões da autoridade e do poder se faz extremamente pertinente e necessária e, assim, nos colocamos a caminho, olhando em frente, sonhando com outro paradigma de civilização, não mais o machista patriarcal, mas o holístico relacional.

Os que mais sofrem com um poder opressor, aquele que não conhece a verdadeira autoridade, são os pobres. São eles que hoje “andam no vale das sombras da morte”, como diz o salmista (Sl 23). Sobre eles a mão pesada do poder, que se faz fria pela injustiça, pesa de modo desmedido. O poder que massacra os pobres está tão distante do cristianismo como nós de marte ou de júpiter.

Instigante se fez a fala do Padre Júlio Lancelotti, um sacerdote comprometido com os mais pobres e necessitados – a população em situação de rua da cidade de São Paulo – e hoje ameaçado de morte pelo poder violento e autoritário, que não suporta os profetas. Ele nos deixou uma pergunta inquietante, que nunca pode ser esquecida e que devemos nos fazer constantemente: “Quem sente que nós os amamos?” A resposta vai nos colocar diante do tamanho do nosso compromisso com a proposta do Reino e reorientar a espiritualidade necessária para hoje, uma espiritualidade que não pode temer a ruptura com o convencional, com a hipocrisia e o farisaísmo. Resistir aos poderes deste mundo, como Jesus o fez no deserto, incomodar aos poderosos com nossa vida e nos colocarmos ao lado dos pequenos, este é o caminho para a perfeição para a qual fomos chamados. O Papa Francisco nos aponta as bem-aventuranças e o capítulo 25 do Evangelho de Mateus como critérios de verificação dos passos que estamos dando no caminho da santidade. [3]

Sabemos que todo diálogo fundado na ética produz frutos e este, que exercitamos, também produzirá, mas sabemos também que ainda precisamos de muita coragem profética para enfrentar as questões que nos foram postas e de muito amadurecimento racional e afetivo para colocá-las em prática.

Um livro já está publicado com as reflexões de alguns que se propuseram a dialogar sobre este assunto tão necessário e esperamos que as diferentes abordagens possam ser úteis a tantos quantos queiram se debruçar sobre esta temática. [4]

Que nossa esperança se renove e que o desejo de contribuir para o advento de um novo tempo, mais criativo, mais terno e mais cristão, possa existir. Que nossos sonhos de paz e justiça se concretizem e que os valores éticos apontados nos ajudem a almejar um poder que nos confira a autoridade necessária para servir a todos com humildade e alegria.

[1] ANDRADE, A. C. Fundamentos ético-teológicos do poder. Uma reflexão a partir da Bíblia. In: ANJOS, M. F; ZACHARIAS, R. (Orgs.) Ética entre poder e autoridade. Perspectivas de teologia cristã. São Paulo: SBTM, Santuário, 2019, p. 121.

[2] FRANCISCO, O nome de Deus é misericórdia. Uma conversa com Andrea Tornielli. São Paulo: Planeta, 2016, p.37.

[3] FRANCISCO. Exortação apostólica Gaudete et Exultate. A chamada à santidade no mundo atual. São Paulo: Paulinas, 2018, § 61.

[4] ANJOS, M. F; ZACHARIAS, R. (Orgs.) Ética entre poder e autoridade. Perspectivas de teologia cristã. São Paulo: SBTM, Santuário, 2019.

Children in Conflict with the Law

2 Comment(s) | Posted | by Eric Genilo |

The Philippines has a law that provides a separate justice system for children in conflict with the law (CICL). The Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act sets the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) at 15 years old. Children 15 years old and younger are exempted from criminal responsibility but can be held civilly liable. These children are placed in intervention programs while living with their families. Children below 15 who are repeat offenders or have committed serious crimes and do not have families who wish to take them in are placed in child-care institutions called “Bahay Pag-Asa” (House of Hope) run by local government units. The law aims at applying restorative justice rather than retributive justice to the situation of child law offenders.

A bill has been filed at the Philippine Senate to lower the age of criminal liability of children to “above 9 years old.” President Duterte had asked for the lowering of the MACR because of reported cases of children being used as drug couriers by criminal organizations.  Proponents of this bill argue the bill will discourage this form of child exploitation. They also argue that children today are different and that they know already know what is right or wrong at an early age, and therefore they should be held criminally responsible for their offenses.

Pediatricians, child psychologists, sociologists, human rights groups, and religious leaders have strongly opposed this proposed bill. The bill’s opponents argue that lowering the MACR will only encourage drug traffickers to use younger couriers. The Psychological Association of the Philippines disagreed with the argument that minors should already be made responsible for criminal actions. Scientific evidence show that a child’s brain is not yet completely developed and the capacities for discernment, impulse control and decision-making only emerge fully in young adulthood. Children may know right from wrong but their ability to act consistently with their knowledge is still inadequate. Children, especially those with weak family support structures, are more vulnerable to coercion and peer pressure, making them susceptible to participation in unlawful activities.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines issued a statement urging law-makers not to lower the MACR. While the Church’s recognizes the necessity for accountability and legitimate punishment for crimes, the Church also believes that “the dignity of the offender is not lost even in the commission of serious crimes” (CCC 2267). The Catechism states that civil punishment must have for its purpose not only the defense of public order and protection of people’s safety but also the correction of the offender (CCC 2266). Offenders must be given the opportunity for conversion and rehabilitation.  Such a duty of the state is especially important for children in conflict with the law, whose formation as future productive adults would be undermined by a lowering of the MACR. Criminalizing minors at a younger age and placing them in adult prisons rather than in family-based programs or rehabilitative youth facilities will not only expose them to harm in the country’s harsh prison system but it will reinforce their identification as criminals.  As persons in the image and likeness of God, these young offenders should never be treated as burdens or rejects by society.

Rather than lowering the MACR, the government should focus its efforts instead on addressing the inadequate implementation of the current law. Of the 114 “Bahay Pag-Asa” youth centers that are mandated by the law, only 58 are actually in operation. Of these 58 centers, only a few are fully compliant with the standards prescribed by the law. Some of these centers are inadequately supervised, underfunded and lack comprehensive rehabilitation programs leading to situations of suffering and neglect for their residents.

Children in conflict with the law need to be protected from those who would do them harm, whether by criminal organizations or penal institutions. As a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Philippines is obliged to act always for the best interest of children, even if they are on the wrong side of the law. The Church and civil society should continue in their campaign to oppose the lowering of the MACR and actively pursue the full implementation of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act.

Justice, Dignity, Accompaniment and the Theo-Ethical Challenge of “Neurodiversity:” A Reflection

2 Comment(s) | Posted | by Teresia Hinga |

Recently, I chanced upon a simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming story of gratitude by a mother of an autistic child, a member of what the mother described as a “neurodiverse”  family. 

According to her , the family had traveled to Orlando FLA., having made the special trip so that their autistic child could get to ride his favorite ride: Spiderman. After a long wait in multiple queues,  and just as they were about to get to the top of the queue, it was announced that the special ride that they had waited for the whole day had broken down and was declared unusable.  Quite understandably , the boy was extremely upset and began crying inconsolably and lay on the ground sobbing in frustration. Lying there and sobbing, he became a spectacle of sorts, and the parents in desperation and possibly embarrassment, tried to lift him from the ground. He would not budge or stop crying.

That is when a staff member at the ride sprung to action, and instead of joining the parents in their efforts to silence the boy and remove him from the spectacle he had become, the staff member just joined the boy and lay down right beside him. Instead of hushing him up, he encouraged him to let it all out, thus affirming the boy’s right to be upset and expressing and calling for empathy from the bystanders rather than “reprimanding the boy.”

By her gesture of lying there with the boy, the staff member acknowledged the boy’s pain and his right to be upset and to express his frustration (possibly in the only way available to him). The staff member simultaneously acknowledged and executed the duty (or the virtue?) to accompany the boy in his pain. She accompanied him in his moment of frustration and ended up saving the day as the boy, soothed by her companionship, calmed down enough to consider riding other rides that were still functional.

This story was thought provoking on several grounds. First of all, it triggered questions about accompaniment of the vulnerable, an idea associated with Oscar Romero’s approach to those rendered vulnerable by impoverization. Instead of  trivializing the pain or even blaming the child with vulnerability, the staff member chose literally to accompany and show solidarity with him. I am sure  that this “solidarity” was not part of her training manual. The act seems to have been spontaneous and unrehearsed, suggesting that the “virtue” of empathy and solidarity was already present in her, this being but an occasion to express it. This raises questions: Is solidarity a moral virtue or a duty? Is solidarity obligatory or is it a sign of a virtuous persons?

Whatever the answer, it would seem that for the staff member, solidarity and accompaniment  are part of her well formed “virtuous character.” Although as I have learned by reading around this article, Disney commendably has a set of guidelines and protocols to make Disney “friendly” and accessible to guests whom they describe as having “cognitive disabilities “ or who are in the autistic spectrum.[1] Strictly following those protocols would have led the staff member to point out designated “take a break” zones.  Instead, she accompanied him right where he was and helped calm him down, not by reprimanding or coaxing or tricking him into “good behavior” or whisking him off to a more discrete designated place to have his “meltdown” as the guidelines suggest. The staff member  responded with what in her view was the best for this particular child at this particular time and not following mechanically the guidelines in the book. In my humble view there are lessons to be learnt from this staff member about the  true meaning of solidarity, empathy and accompaniment, particularly though not limited to, the accompaniment of the “neuro-diverse” in our midst.

This story reminded me of a book I began reading some time back: Vulnerable Communion: A Theology of Disability and Hospitality.[2]  In the introduction, the author describes how the church in which he and his family, including his autistic son, worshiped, effectively excommunicated them when some parents asked the pastor to not allow the “disruptive” child into Sunday school. The pastor complied and asked the “neurodiverse” family to leave. Though he was apologetic, the father says, the damage was done. The parents of the autistic child wondered what to do. Where to go.

Reynolds continues “Over the years  we had been through behavioral programs, family counseling … and psychiatric care…At this point we were just beginning to come to terms with our sons recent diagnosis Tourette’s syndrome… Later he would also be diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder…  At this point he was 7 years old and we knew only of the Tourette’s... We stopped attending this church… In fact we stopped attending the church altogether.[3]

With Reynold’s story, the question persists: What ought to be the response to him and his family and many others like him? Is leaving the church the way out? What could be done to truly accompany rather than excommunicate such families?

More food for thought on this topic came to me from a rather unexpected source: This time it was a self identified “Neurodiverse” person who lives with the Autistic syndrome - Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish girl whose story is now trending.

She has become globally known for  her unequivocal advocacy for action in response to climate change. Recently, she sailed (rather than flew) across the Atlantic to underline her message regarding the urgency of reducing carbon emissions and our carbon footprint. She is not seeking sympathy for her disability. Rather, she is drawing attention to a missed dimension when we consider what our responses ought to be to those with disabilities, including “cognitive disability.” Greta points out that her “neurodiverse” status ought not to be a cause for stigma, expulsion, silencing and excommunication from society. She says that her achievements are not despite, but perhaps even because of, what she calls the “gift of Asperger’s.” This enables her to think and speak “out of the box.” According to her, such thinking is urgently needed if we are to deal effectively with the urgent crisis of climate change.

As I continue to reflect on the question of neurodiversity, I see in Greta’s self reporting and reflection even more lessons to be learnt. She invites us to see diversity, even neurodiversity not as a problem to be solved (by hiding, erasing, or efforts to “homogenize “ difference.) Rather , difference is a fact of life to be navigated in ways that maintain the dignity of the different other, including the neurologically different… Perhaps, with Greta’s encouragement, we might even begin to think of and embrace “the gift of Asperger’s” and other forms of neurodiversity in our midst.

At the very least, we could  recognize the moral agency of all, including those with “autistic” syndrome and begin to take heed of their needs as well as their contribution to the flourishing of all. Such is the case for Greta who admits to what clinicians depreciatingly call being “selectively mute” but which she describes as a positive thing. In her view she selects to speak when necessary … (e.g. as an outspoken advocate for climate change action.)

She is neither mute nor disabled, but vocal and able to challenge all of us to deal as we must with the man-made crisis of climate change. As we continue to discern our way around the theo-ethical implications of neurodiversity, Greta invites us not to dismiss or silence what the neurodiverse say from the depths of their moral agency. Greta is clear in her appeal: We all need to take action to ensure that there will be a future for her and her grandchildren. As she says in a recent TED Talk[4] “we have had 30 years of pep talk” that has achieved little. It is time to take action, perhaps even time to join the young students around the world going on strike for climate action on 20th September.[5]

Greta calls for solidarity at a level that benefits not just her as a neurodiverse, person but solidarity that benefits all. She reminds us that though we may be different, we are interconnected and share the same benefits from earth our common home, or, if we fail to take action, the “wrath” of a neglected and desecrated mother… earth.

Perhaps it is  time for a more  robust conversation on accompaniment, solidarity and the theo –ethics of neurodiversity, a conversation that recognizes the agency and dignity of the different other, including the neurologically different.

[1] See link to Disney guidelines and accommodations for Guests with “cognitive disabilities” which the mother in the story above prefer to call “neuro diverse “ here.

[2] See Reynolds, Thomas E. Vulnerable Communion : a Theology of Disability and Hospitality : Brazon Press 2008

[3] ibid. p.11.

Ecclesial Ethics – a way forward?

1 Comment(s) | Posted | by Anna Abram |

The question of ecclesial ethics (by which I mean ‘professional Church ethics’)[1] has been on the agenda of theological ethicists for some time.[2] The idea of ‘ecclesial ethics’, triggers responses that vary between enthusiasm, curiosity and support on the one hand and scepticism and opposition on the other. In my experience, enthusiasm, curiosity and support seem to be predominant. Broadly speaking, the enthusiasts are keen that we (i.e. all of us who care for a better functioning church) seize the opportunity of a current crisis in the Church and see ecclesial ethics as a means for addressing it. They suggest that ecclesial ethics should be mainstream (not just a subject for experts such as moral theologians). They stress the importance of learning from a secular field of professional ethics. The sceptics are weary of a too close connection with professional ethics. They  argue that we have enough resources in the Catholic tradition such as Catholic Social Teaching (CST) or canon law to guide our moral behaviour. In their view, there is no need for yet another set of instructions. All we need is to implement the instructions we already have.  

What would it be like to treat the existing Church’s teaching as a mirror and see whether our practices are reflected in it? For example, the Church in many countries opposes Sunday trading yet workers in Catholic bookshops, cafes, pilgrim centres are busy working on Sundays. The Church has much to say on the care for natural environment, yet formulation and implementation of green policies is not a conventional practice in the Church. The CST-mirror is likely to reveal discrepancies and shortcomings. It is likely to disclose a failure to practice what we teach.

Why is it difficult to create a better moral climate within the Church? There is a simple and a complex answer to this question. First, the resources (verbal or written moral instructions) don’t automatically translate into morally right behaviours.  Neither moral instructions nor any version of ecclesial ethics will mechanically make us a better Church. More than instruction is needed. Secondly (and this is the complex answer), I am not convinced that the ways the resources are presented and communicated are conducive to improving the moral condition of the Church. Overcoming divisions, cultivating right relationships, helping individuals to grow, enhancing communal practices and articulating moral guidance requires some rethinking. It seems that the instructions on moral matters are either too detailed (statements and preaching are too long) or not detailed enough (there is too much abstraction and not enough engagement with lived experience) or the detail is in the wrong place (for example, a preoccupation with physical acts in some areas of the Church’s teaching neglects other morally relevant aspects of the acting person’s moral reality).

This is not to dismiss the Catholic tradition of moral thinking. On the contrary, it is to draw from it and continue to enrich it. The moral tradition has always been a living (dynamic) thing. By ‘tradition’, I mean the official Church statements as well as the work of theologians, pastoral leaders and ordinary men and women. In order to become a more participatory church (Pope Francis’ invitation) we need to engage with our moral tradition in a new way. We probably need to learn to think more outside the box and find better ways of listening to our own experience as well as to the experience of others. And, we need to acquire skills for handling disagreements (something we are not very good at in our Church). These last three points (more listening, thinking outside the box, and better handling of disagreements) are shared by both the enthusiasts and the sceptics.

There is one other point made by the sceptics that is worth mentioning. It is not the opposition to ecclesial ethics per se but the anxiety that ecclesial ethics would not make any difference - in the same way that business ethics doesn’t make much difference to the way businesses operate. I think this is a legitimate worry. The sceptics want to avoid a creation of another body of instructions that would be prescriptive, formalistic, based on the language of codes and limited to producing documents which will exist in filing cabinets or on computer drives. While it is true that business schools have courses on business ethics, business companies and their employees do not always know the demands of business ethics and do not live up to them. The financial crisis in 2008 was a consequence of such failures. What the sceptics don’t seem to notice is that there are companies who have used the financial and subsequent crises positively. There is a growing number of businesses and organisations that are more articulate about the moral values and who care more deeply about the common good.  In the UK, an organisation called Blueprint for Better Business through their educational and consultancy service to businesses fosters this positive change. Their work is framed around five principles of a purpose driven business: (1) has a purpose which delivers long-term sustainable performance; (2) honest and fair with customers and suppliers; (3) a good citizen; (4) a responsible and responsive employer; (5) a guardian for future generations. What would it be like to apply these principles to organisations within the Church?

Some of the most useful resources related to business ethics are provided by the London based Institute of Business Ethics. It defines business ethics as the ‘application of ethical values to business behaviour’; as ‘relevant both to the conduct of individuals and to the conduct of the organisation as a whole’; ‘it applies to any and all aspects of business conduct, from boardroom strategies and how companies treat their employees and suppliers to sales techniques and accounting practices’.  They also state that ‘ethics goes beyond the legal requirements for a company’. Finally, they identify the purpose of their organisation which is to ‘demystify the topic of business ethics and to make it practical and tangible’; their approach is ‘practical rather than an academic or philosophical’ so that the employees of business organisations are able to 'do the right thing'.

If we were to follow a similar agenda, what would ecclesial ethics be like? What would the application of ethical values to church bodies and organisations mean in practice? What would making ecclesial ethics relevant to both the conduct of individuals and the conduct of the whole Church involve? How could we make ecclesial ethics applicable to any and all aspects of ecclesial conduct from ‘boardroom’ strategies (Vatican, Bishops Conferences, Dioceses, Deaneries, Parishes, etc) to processes and practices at all levels (appointments of bishops, parish priests, catechists, leaders, etc).  What would the exact purpose, terms of reference, and ways of developing ecclesial ethics be? What would it mean to empower all members of the Church to 'do the right thing'?  This paper will not engage directly with these questions. While they will be in the background of this reflection, the focus will be on the necessity and urgency of ecclesial ethics and on the core issues it should consider.

Nearly fifteen years ago James Keenan in his ‘Notes on Moral Theology: Ethics and the Crisis in the Church’ named those who were ‘promoting instruction on "ethics in the Church" for seminaries and divinity schools’ (Kevin Kelly, Richard Gula and Norbert Rigali) as ‘trailblazers’. Keenan also observed that ‘despite their efforts, most Roman Catholic clergy and bishops still receive little if any professional ethical training’.[3]  Keenan implied that the focus of moral education in the seminaries is on how to instruct others and not on how to make oneself morally accountable. It is probably right to claim that in many cases a priest might know more on how to instruct a married couple about birth control than understand what it means to act in the best interest of his congregation, how to avoid conflict-of-interests, what confidentiality demands of him, what it means to be a good steward of resources (people, time, money and natural environment) or what honest and proactive communication involves.

Keenan’s diagnosis is that ‘the crisis in the Church results not only from abusive priests, clericalism, and inept administrative structures that exclude the laity and ignore accountability, but also from the lack of critical course work that addresses the canonical and professional ethical formation of church ministers’.[4] In other words, according to Keenan, it is both the various dysfunctions and ‘inept’ structures that exclude people as well as a lack of a proper (professional) training that have contributed to the current crisis in the Church.

It is worth pointing out that introducing professional ethics to a number of fields has helped in improving standards of behaviour in these fields.  One good example is engineering ethics. The Royal Academy of Engineering website offers a helpful insight how the formulation, teaching, implementation of ethical practice work in the context of engineering. Another example is the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). Its code (in terms of the content) offers a dynamic guidance on how individuals within the Corporation should relate to each other, to the stake holders and to the employer. I am neither endorsing this code nor suggesting that BBC practices are morally perfect (they are not). I am making a case that engaging people in moral thinking about their work, professional practice, purpose of this practice, etc. are conducive to building a more ethical environment.

A number of theological ethicists have already engaged with professional ethics. One of the key publications is Church Ethics and Organizational Context: Learning from the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic church, edited by Jean M. Bartunek, Mary Ann Hinsdale, and James F. Keenan (Sheed & Ward, 2005). The volume provides useful insights on how to engage with professional ethics.  James Keenan and Joseph Kotva in their edited volume Practice What You Preach:  Virtues, Ethics, and Power in the Lives of Pastoral Ministers and Their Congregations (Sheed & Ward, 1999) consider specific ecclesial professional issues such as accountability, empowerment of leaders, formation of pastors, resolving power struggles between clergy and other pastoral issues. A volume of essays, edited by Stephen Pope, Common Calling: The Laity and Governance of the Catholic Church (Georgetown University Press, 2004) considers the common calling that the laity share equally with the clergy in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly dignity of Christ. This is just a sample of resources that can inform theoretical grounding of ecclesial ethics. 

In my view we shouldn’t be afraid to draw from the field of professional ethics. To draw from it doesn’t mean to copy it.  We can start by noting the root of the term ‘professional’. It has a religious connotation. To ‘profess’ is to make a public declaration like a vow on entering a religious order. At its core there is a commitment to serve for a good end (the common good). Listing values, moral standards and principles that we agree on as guiding our roles in the Church could be a creative, meaningful and ‘bonding’ (in our polarised Church) exercise.  Professional ethicists comment that coming together in order to agree on the standards and norms for guiding the delivery of services is often a very positive experience. It usually improves practice. The standards agreed are morally binding to ‘professed’ members of the profession and they are subject to external scrutiny. There is much that we-the-Church, ministering in a variety of our roles and states, could learn from mainstream professional ethics. The following broad areas could benefit from it:  (1) governance and decision making (agreeing who decision-makers are, who they should be in the future and how they should make decisions); (2) feedback on performance, evaluation of practices – an organization that does not have a mechanism for engaging meaningfully with different members and that is hostile to any critical feedback is not going to succeed in the long run. There has to be space for constructive criticism, done out of love for and in communion with the Church – engaging with such processes is a sign of moral maturity and a display of care; (3) Human Resources issues (employment and volunteering; wages; investments; administration); (4) moral education and formation of leaders (ministers, pastoral assistants, catechists, etc).

A well formulated ecclesial ethics could help us to bridge several existing gaps: a gap between canon law and moral theology; a gap between conservatives and liberals (holders of both labels care about a better functioning Church); a gap between the black and white approaches to moral matters. Ecclesial ethics could be a space in which we learn to improvise (including improvising on our Catholic tradition), we need to feel more comfortable with grey areas and ambiguities, with things which we can’t resolve. We need better listening skills and ways of encountering each other in a new way. We have to learn how to handle disagreements and to understand how a mature church is not afraid of plurality of views and practices. Ecclesial ethics could be a platform for exploring these ideas and for addressing matters that are at the core of the Church’s current struggle. Amongst these matters are clericalism (according to Pope Francis, clericalism is the core problem which makes our church dysfunctional) and associated with it attitudes of entitlement and secrecy as well as avoidance of transparency and accountability. Ecclesial ethics could be a forum for agreeing about the norms and processes that would help our church to become more inclusive (especially, lay people in positions of responsibility and leadership). Ecclesial ethics could offer a framework for tackling the systemic dysfunctions and guarding the implementation of a more balanced style of governance at different levels of the Church that is hierarchical. It could highlight areas of good practices, find ways of promoting and awarding good leaders-ministers. It could help to develop such practices and processes as appraisal of ministry and training in ethical practice.


We have already identified the necessity of a (different) moral education in the Church. But, the general level of theological, historical, spiritual understanding of a complex ecclesial history, theology, Biblical studies within our Church is poor. These areas need improvement too. Ecclesial ethics is not going to advance knowledge in the above fields and will not address other weaknesses in the Church, but it can name these weaknesses.


I see ecclesial ethics as a starting point (not the last word). It is a way of addressing our Church’s critical situation; a means towards the renewal of the Church; a tool for examining attitudes and structures; a space for learning to improvise; a platform for exploring new ways of being the Church; a forum for agreeing about standards and norms; and a framework for implementing what is agreed. By avoiding engaging with controversial and sticky points (at least initially), putting the internal divisions aside and focusing first on structures, functions, representations, gifts, duties and responsibilities of the Church members, ecclesial ethics can be a refreshing wave in the current moral climate. It can potentially bring a positive change and help us build a more inclusive culture.


In the background of this reflection, there has been a conviction that without ‘something’ new and open, something that will help us reimagine the way we relate to each other within our Church, the root of the current crisis will not go away. Without sounding too pessimistic, if a positive action is not taken soon, the already existing polarisation within the Church is likely to increase. The diminishing numbers of practicing Catholics in many countries (a phenomenon at least partly related to the loss of credibility in the Church) is also likely to continue. I have been endorsing ecclesial ethics as a way out of this crisis and as an urgent action point for our Church. However, I do not aim to suggest that ecclesial ethics is the only answer to our ecclesial problems. It is the answer I see; there are probably many others that that I cannot see.  The purpose of this reflection is to ignite a conversation. Given that ethics encourages us to ask such questions as what is fair, what promotes a genuine moral growth and what hinders it, it is worth starting with ethics. Ethics teaches us to distinguish between morality and moralising or constructive judgement and judgmentalism. The renewal of our Church without addressing these and similar issues would be hard if not impossible. Ethics helps to understand that the only way to be good is to be good; one can’t fake it.


So, is ecclesial ethics a way forward? For me, it is. Without it, it will be quite difficult to improve practice and undertake an ecclesial moral inventory. To make ecclesial ethics meaningful it would probably need to be considered in conversations with other disciplines, primarily theology (including spirituality) but also psychology, anthropology and philosophy. In the end our ecclesial reality will be as good as moral thinking and behaving are. Building a moral community out of a bruised church is not going to be easy and there is no guarantee that ecclesial ethics would work. Growing up in the wounded church requires strength and courage; we enjoy being taken care of by our Mother Church but, as many of us know, there is time when aged mothers need care.  Thankfully, we are not alone in this task. There is much help and goodness available to us, many resources to draw from and many areas of good practice to guide us.  The rest is in God’s hands.

[1] My approach to ecclesial ethics differs from that of for example Samuel Wells. In his ‘Improvisation and Ecclesial Ethics’ (The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies, Edited by George E. Lewis and Benjamin Piekut, 2014) Wells divides Christian ethics into three strands: universal (ethics for anyone), subversive (ethics for the excluded), and ecclesial (ethics for the church). I like Wells’ use of ‘theatrical improvisation’ as a way of resolving tensions in ecclesial ethics.

[2] This is an updated version of a paper presented under the same title at a meeting of the Association of Teachers of Moral Theology (UK), 13 May 2019.

[3] James F. Keenan, Notes on Moral Theology: Ethics and the Crisis in the Church. Theological Studies. 2005(66), 117-136, p. 135.

[4] Keenan, p. 136.

The Global Ecological Crisis and the Global Common Good

1 Comment(s) | Posted | by Marianne Heimbach-Steins |

In August 2019 news recorded a kind of mourning ceremony not for a person but for a glacier. The Okjökull glacier in the Northern European state of Iceland had covered the volcano Ok near Reykjavik. It had been declared dead already in 2014. This happened when an expert had found out that the ice had lost so much weight and the glacier had become so small that it did not move any longer (which is a characteristic of glaciers). Not many people took notice of it, when the glacier was pronounced dead five years ago.

Now BBC and many other media reported the mourning ceremony which was attended by the Prime minister of Iceland Katrin Jakobsdottir, Environment Minister Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson and former Irish President Mary Robinson. On top of the volcano a copper plaque was laid down which carries a „letter to the future“ written by Icelandic author Andri Snaer Magnason. It reads "Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as glacier. In the next 200 years all our main glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it."

To establish a kind of memorial for the deceased glacier symbolizes that not only a piece of nature which was characteristic of Icelandic landscape has disappeared, but also a piece of the island’s culture which had been a constituent element of both its identity and history. It makes people aware of the fact that this loss won’t remain an isolated case but will be followed by many others in Iceland and elsewhere.

This quite unusual symbol reminds not only Icelanders but all those who take notice of it of the fact of the anthropogenous character of climate change. It is not a blind fate but (at least to a great extent) the result of human practices and human decisions or rather of the lack of resolute action in favor of a change for sustainability. Although the interdependency between human behaviour and global warming is widely known political efforts to establish rules and efficient structures for sustainable development remain weak. Whereas Norwegian teenager Greta Thunberg and the Fridays for future movement keep on demonstrating already for around six months in order to intensify the pressure on decision makers all over the world, we face more and more evidence of ecological ignorance by powerful political leaders and even willful destruction of ecosystems fueled by economic interests.

To name but two examples: Think firstly of the ongoing terrible fires in the Amazonas which are at least partly the result of fire-raising. The ecologically disastrous effects meet the particular economic interests of some people and companies who  exploit the region’s natural resources and disregard the existential needs of indigenous people(s) as well as the bad consequences such practises impose on the global climate. Secondly, think of the suggestion of President Trump to buy Greenland and to praise this absurd idea as a great real estate deal thus revealing complete ignorance of both the right to self-determination of Greenland and the worth of the ecological integrity of the Arctic.

Both examples prove that strong and powerful particular interests dominate over general necessities to save the foundations of shared resources and to promote the common good on a global scale.

In his Encyclical letter Laudato si‘ (2015) Pope Francis urgently reminds the global public of the necessity to build a strong global alliance „on Care for our Common Home". In line with the tradition of Catholic Social Teaching he enforces the principle of the common good the global dimension of which has already been elaborated since Vatican II.

What is basically needed on the level of political decision making as well as in the international civil society is a change of perspectives from putting particularities in the forefront to thinking in a global scale based on a contextually aware universalism and thus paying attention to the basic interdependencies structuring our world:

"An interdependent world not only makes us more conscious of the negative effects of certain lifestyles and models of production and consumption which affect us all; more importantly, it motivates us to ensure that solutions are proposed from a global perspective, and not simply to defend the interests of a few countries. Interdependence obliges us to think of one world with a common plan. Yet the same ingenuity which has brought about enormous technological progress has so far proved incapable of finding effective ways of dealing with grave environmental and social problems worldwide. A global consensus is essential for confronting the deeper problems, which cannot be resolved by unilateral actions on the part of individual countries." (LS 164)

More explicitly than his predecessors Pope Francis links the principle of the global common good to the issues of ecology, be it water, regenerative energies, governance of the oceans, and the general problem of global warming to name but a few important topics. He consequently highlights the interdependency between ecological and social issues associated with the necessary option for the poor who suffer most from the ecological crisis. Therefore the global common good cannot be considered without precise attention to the development of the ecology.

The Pope sharply criticizes the lack of a global consensus and of ecologically minded political leadership. He stipulates a promising global strategy to solve the most urgent problems of ecology and to overcome their destructive impact on the poor. Being aware of the weakness of national policies he insists on the need for strong international agreements as a corrective of unsustainable local or national strategies (and thus a limitation of state sovereignty with regard to the global ecological impact of local practises).

"Enforceable international agreements are urgently needed, since local authorities are not always capable of effective intervention. Relations between states must be respectful of each other’s sovereignty, but must also lay down mutually agreed means of averting regional disasters which would eventually affect everyone. Global regulatory norms are needed to impose obligations and prevent unacceptable actions, for example, when powerful companies or countries dump contaminated waste or offshore polluting industries in other countries." (LS 173)

No doubt many responsible people are attentive to the (mutual, but asymmetric) global interdependency, of unsustainable life-styles in the Western world and the necessity to promote a basic change of economic patterns for the sake of a just and sustainable eco-social development. Whereas one can hardly say that we lack knowledge of the causal relationship between the constant (ab)use of natural resources and the ecological crisis, the world still lacks a solid political concept of how to implement the ideas and norms of sustainable development in order to efficiently protect the climate as a global common good and the related global commons such as water, air, soil, and biodiversity.

As far as I can see Pope Francis introduces a new aspect in the Papal teaching when he not only focuses on the global common good but also on global commons. It is with regard to the governance of the oceans that he comes to this political topic:

"International and regional conventions do exist, but fragmentation and the lack of strict mechanisms of regulation, control and penalization end up undermining these efforts. The growing problem of marine waste and the protection of the open seas represent particular challenges. What is needed, in effect, is an agreement on systems of governance for the whole range of so-called ‚global commons‘.“ (LS 174, italics mine, M. Heimbach-Steins)

In my opinion the allusion to the concept of global governance and to the protection of goods qualified as global commons (which, of course, to this day remains an issue of academic and political debate) indicates the necessity to further elaborate on what the principle of common good as a globally dimensioned one means. Christian Social Ethics is provoked to deeper reflect the interconnectedness between the global common good as a goal, global governance as conceptual strategy related to that goal and the protection of the global commons as goods which materialize the idea of the global common good. As far as I can see these interconnections have not been treated intensively in the field of Christian Social Ethics up to now. It might be an impulse from the Encyclical for social ethicists to pick up in order to contribute to the „care for our common home“ on the level of social ethical reflection.

To Whom Does the Amazon Belong?

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

In the past week we have witnessed two interesting cases regarding national sovereignty:  Donald Trump was wanting to buy Greenland, and was most put out when Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that the largest island in the world is not for sale. Responding to that unfriendly reluctance to kowtow to the ‘strategic interests’ of the USA, Trump cancelled a planned visit to Denmark. This might be regarded as a further episode in the farce that is Donald Trump, if it weren’t so typical of a basic lack of respect for weaker nations. 

A related, but substantially different scene is playing out between Brazil and the G7 nations. Let us leave aside the personal differences between Presidents Jair Bolsonaro and Emmanuel Macron, and the attractiveness of their respective wives. I see the issue relating to whether the Amazon rain forest is a universal good or the more restricted property of the citizens of Brazil. Clearly the most of forest is within their national territory, and the country has traditionally reaped the economic benefit from the (un)sustainable exploitation of the forests. However, does the recognition of the global importance for the future health of the planet of the tropical forests, including the Amazon, the Congo Basin, New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and others, in some way change the status of these vast green lungs of the world? Does the ownership become more universal than national? Has their stewardship imperceptibly become a universal responsibility or concern? Is this the subtext of President Macron and the G7?: The forest is so precious to the whole of humankind, (most of whom believe in the threat of global climate change) that we are willing, if not obliged, to help you (Brazil) to bring under control the fires that are ravaging the lung of the world. This is not just a national crisis. It is a crisis for all humankind.

Of course this may be perceived as a new kind of imperialism (I call it 'eco-imperialism'). It raises ire in Brazil – as it would (and will) in the Congo Basin and New Guinea, etc., when the time comes: What do you mean that the forest is not our exclusive patrimony? We have lived off these forests for generations. We know how to take care of them. We don't want your grasping hands undermining our sovereignty.

With the growing awareness of the centrality of assets, like rainforests, biodiversity, clean oceans, etc. for the good of all humanity, there should be greater awareness of, and adherence to international mechanisms a) to allay the fears of those nations in which these assets lie, and b) for the whole world to contribute to their stewardship and preservation. For example, there is the, under which signatories pledge not to add to the plastic burden of the oceans. The United Nations has a Forest Instrument by which signatories undertake to manage their forests sustainably and even expand areas of protected forest for the economic benefit of forest-dependent people. There is also a Convention on Biological Diversity, with 195 party states. The UN has declared 2021-2030 the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Through mechanisms like these, the G7 might approach nations like Brazil to offer assistance in a less threatening manner. Of course, they are glacially bureaucratic. Perhaps each mechanism should have provision for emergency, focussed channels of assistance. At every level, the Church should also be involved in these mechanisms. After all, not just the Amazon, but this common home belongs to us all.

Life and Beauty

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

Why do human beings seek beauty? The motive behind this quest is the fact that life has an inborn yearning for beauty, for it is there one finds genuine peace. Furthermore, there is an order in the basis of being beautiful. This beauty does not merely refer to something appealing to the eye. Rather, it is nothing other than the elegance one encounters in harmony, a harmony comprised of truth, goodness, and beauty.

 Beauty in order

            There is an order in the basis of all beautiful things. This beauty is, as it were a form of concord, that is to say, serenity in the individual and peace within the community and society. According to St. Augustine, peace is tranquility of an order (tranquillitas ordinis). That is to say, where there is order, there must be tranquility. This is the essence of peace. Hence, if we wish to realize peace, we need to first orchestrate the serenity within our hearts, and then aim at creating peace within our community and society.

 Beyond beauty in nature

            The Japanese to be sure possess like all others, a distinctive sense of beauty, a beauty undoubtedly inspired by their country’s natural and cultural ambience. The transition of the four seasons in particular exerts upon people a genuine sway, and it has often been said that while Japanese on the one hand are capable of apprehending pale and delicate beauty, yet on the other, they are found to be lacking in logical thinking, and even more at seeking a reason for things. Accordingly, one may perhaps say that few fail to acquire a sincere grasp of the theory of creation, as narrated in Scripture (cf. Wis 13:1-9).

Beauty in oikonomia

            Oikonomia is an expression composed of oikos (house) and nemo (manage). Hence, it has been said that this word originally referred to the work of a seneschal or property manager. However, in course of time it came to be transformed into a word possessed of an exclusive significance, to be precise, the working of God’s salvation, which is realized via the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is described concisely in the following words:

[I]f, as I suppose, you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for your benefit, [namely, that] the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly earlier. When you read this you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to human beings in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this I became a minister by the gift of God’s grace that was granted me in accord with the exercise of his power. To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ, and to bring to light [for all] what is the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things (Eph 3:2-9).

            The plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things (oikonomia tou mysteriou) — this directly expresses the beauty of God, who grants life to everything.

Recto-22: The Blurred Stance of Mr. Duterte and his Cohorts on the Common Good and Sovereign-Human Rights

1 Comment(s) | Posted | by Kristine C. Meneses |

On July 12, 2016 marks the third year when the International Law of Justice at The Hague favored the claims of the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea as opposed to the argument of China’s historical rights over the PH waters. The tribunal found that China had interfered with Philippines’ petroleum exploration, it has failed to prevent Chinese fishermen and militia from entering and exploiting Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, has prevented the navigation of Philippine vessels and fisherfolk within its own the territorial sea, and has ongoing construction of artificial islands with a military base.  Three years after the ruling, China remains unbent to the ruling and refused to acknowledge the award in favor of the Philippines. Today, the Chinese government together with its military fiercely and forcefully infiltrates the Philippine waters, not only contended with the Western part, but they also crossed its Eastern part. Because of the continuous disregard of China on The Hague ruling, two former Philippine officials, Conchita Carpio-Morales and Albert del Rosario (Ombudsman and Foreign Affairs Secretary, respectively) on March 15, 2019 filed a complaint against Xi Jinping and other Chinese officials before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

June 12, 2019 (ironically, is the celebration of Philippine Independence), there was a confirmed report of a collision on the Recto Bank (which is within the 200 nautical miles of the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the PH waters) a Chinese vessel against an anchored Philippine fishing vessel, where the latter sank together with the 22 Filipinos on board (the incident is now referred to as Recto-22). The Chinese vessel left, without aiding the Filipinos, it was a Vietnamese vessel that was in the area who saw and rescued the Filipinos.

To the dismay of many Filipinos, Mr. Duterte sided China’s narrative than defend his fellow Filipino fishermen. He seems unmoved and saw that siding with the Chinese government is the only way to keep the Philippines safe. Does Mr. Duterte have a point of having an agreement over the West Philippine Sea with Beijing or is this simply a wrong and undiplomatic judgment of his? How can we make sense of the intimidation (put it mildly) and injustice (frankly speaking) of the Chinese government not only on PH waters, but to the Filipinos?

China’s indifference (to put it mildly) is coming from a political paradigm that is opposed to a western mindset. China’s gradual rise has caught the attention of many, and there is a need to comprehend its very nature and roots. Though it has claimed to be a nation-state, China in reality poses a civilizational-state, where its identity lies not on territorial acquisition or annexing but on historical contingency covering two millennia, with a strong belief that their race is superior.[1] The instilling of the Confucian philosophy and the Tianxia theory “all under heaven,” has shaped an ideology beginning in Chinese schools and cementing this to the consciousness of Chinese making it the foundation of stability and peaceful “confederation.”

This paradigm and hegemony of China seems to be a blend of Leninist capitalism and neo-Confucian ideology that subtly infiltrates other nations through the “innocent” cultural exchanges between nations under the guise of Confucius Institutes[2] as well as the Belt and Road Infrastructure Initiative (BRII), that constructs an “all roads” leading to China sooner than we thought. The present China aims to create this new world order, a sort of autocracy and authoritarianism via “annexing” Hong Kong, Taiwan and the West Philippine Sea (and perhaps of the Philippines in the near future). It’s soft power, a neo-colonialism, has been in place in the Philippines for centuries now, beginning with its trade and commerce. Now we have Chinese schools, Chinatowns, Chinese business tycoons, which shows its obvious influence not only in the economy but also in our politics and culture. Unsatisfied with the soft power, China has turned aggressive by grabbing territorial seas, both the west and the east (Benham Rise) of the Philippines, and the illegal entry of Chinese laborers. The problem lies before us is the complacency of the Philippine leadership headed by Mr. Duterte and his administrative cohorts, who seems to allow such infiltration and blatant harassment of China. Mr. Duterte has been overt in being bias to his “friend” neighbor, showing as sort of soft sovereignty or worse seems to be turning the Philippines into a subnational of China, where he openly said, “why not let China conquer us.” This sounds a sell-out of Mr. Duterte, which is opposed to the firm and determined action of many Hong Kong residents on their protest that resulted in the withdrawal of the extradition bill.[3] It seems that Beijing was shaken by the powerful protest of most Hong Kongers, but on similar “protest” filed by Morales and del Rosario was taken with arrogance and indignation by Beijing when the two were held in the Hong Kong immigration and denied entry thereof. As for the Recto-22 incident, China has violated multiple times The Hague ruling as well as maritime laws. First, it continually failed to prevent Chinese vessels and militia from illegal entry in the PH waters. Second, there is no legal action against the perpetrators and third, it never offered any compensation for the damages it caused to the Philippine vessel and its fishermen.[4] More so, because this happened within the EEZ, China must be held responsible and accountable, but up to this writing, China remains defiant of the matter.

The present circumstance reverberates the call of Pope John XXIII, in his encyclical, Pacem in Terris (PT). Though its main thought was the Cold War and racism, the encyclical resonates a timeless issue on human rights and inter-state relations. The PT emphasizes that a regime must not govern by means of threat or intimidation for this is offensive to the dignity of peoples. Further, the state must be a moral force that guarantees and safeguards the dignity, rights and freedom of its citizens. (No. 48-50) Justice must be upheld, which is not merely a matter of interpreting the law, whether the state upholds dignity and protects the rights of every person, which is the fundamental reference point of any law to guarantee justice and equity. The essential precepts of the encyclical seem at opposite poles with the stance of Mr. Duterte, his cohorts and China in the case of Recto-22. In addition, Morales, del Rosario, and Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Carpio[5] are not merely concerned with economic effects of “surrendering” to China, but they are extremely concerned on the issue of human rights violation, which Beijing and Mr. Duterte seems to be known for their upfront disregard.

More appalling is the admittance of Mr. Duterte of a secret personal verbal agreement with Xi Jingpin, giving the latter a blanket permission to fish and exploit the PH seas. Further, Mr. Duterte has set aside the favourable ruling of the Hague in exchange of economic aid and investments from China, while the Asian giant refused to acknowledge the court decision, resulting to their compounded violation of the rights of Filipino fisherfolk and maritime integrity. Such action is tantamount to undermining the ruling of The Hague, as well as the sovereign rights of the Filipinos on its own territory. The President’s action on the regard of a blanket permission given to China is unconstitutional, reiterated by Justice Carpio.

The recent trade war between US-China headlines mainly an economic issue must not place at the sidelines the essential matter at stake in international relations. The developed and developing economies need to remember the fundamental issue that must also take place on their negotiating table – the concern on human dignity, rights and freedom, which for years China has overtly disregarded. As presented above, Beijing’s indifference as well as arrogance towards the Philippines and her citizens will always be taken unconstitutional and unjust. On this matter, Mr. Duterte and his cohorts must assert the Philippines’ maritime rights and defend the rights of his fellow citizens by taking action which otherwise when kept in silence may be interpreted as acquiescence. Further, the existing leaders of the Philippines must take a stance and refrain from enabling China with its intimidation.   

It is apt to reiterate these questions, not only on the matter of China, but those countries that blatantly show the world how they regard people: How are we to balance the common good of nations while guaranteeing the protection of human dignity, rights and freedom? Is it still humane and just to undertake international trade relations with countries that outrightly disregards and disrespects human dignity, rights and freedom?

[1] Tracing its race 220 BCE during the Han Empire. Further, its main ideology lies in the name “China,” where in Classical Chinese is Zhongguo, which poetically means “Middle Kingdom.” Historically, it’s neighbors look at China for protection, militarily and economically, thus its system then was tributary, a China-centered world, so to speak. From here, we can see partially how China’s system works, with a firm belief that it will be the world’s center.

[2] Such institute is funded by the Chinese government with its own set rules. There are Confucius Institutes in Africa, as well as in the Unites State, namely in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Indiana University, where the two universities making decisive actions regarding the subtle controlled influence of the Confucius Institutes. 

[3] By contrast, on June 9, 2019, Hong Kong residents who showed their utter disagreement with the move of Chief Executive, Carrie Lam on the extradition bill. The Hong Kongers were determined to voice their sentiments. A month of protest paved the way for Lam to categorically confirm that the “bill is dead” last July 8, 2019. The protest shows the distrust of Hong Kong with the Beijing’s government. There have been reports of Chinese critics who left mainland because of their experience of aggressive intimidation and surviellance by the government on them and to their families.

[4] Paterno Esmaquel, “Recto Bank incident ‘clear violation of Int’l law’ – PH lead counsel July 3, 2019.

[5] Associate Justice Antonio Carpio openly critiques the administration and conscientize the Filipino citizens on our claims and sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea. He is also an expert on the law of the seas.

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