Forum Submissions





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

Civil Protests and Theological Ethics

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Petr Štica |

Key words: ecology; environmental protection; civil protests; civil society; political participation; theological ethics

In the Czech Republic, we have encountered in recent weeks a phenomenon that is not new but by its intensity and regularity is surprising and is in any case significant. For more than a month, every Monday or Tuesday, thousands of people have been demonstrating in Prague and many other cities against the decision of the Prime Minister Andrej Babiš to nominate as a new minister of justice Marie Benešová. A large part of the public sees behind this decision of the Prime Minister his effort to pressurise public prosecutors in order to prevent any prosecution against him (he is suspected of having misused EU development funds for one project). There are also other protest activities: On May 3, 2019, the second student strike for climate protection was held in Prague. The Czech students joined the movement Fridays for Future, which was set in motion by young Swedish student Greta Thunberg and which many thousands of young people joined in many countries of the world. About 1.4 million people from around the world participated in the Global Climate Strike for Future on March 15, 2019. As is known, the aim of the students is to rouse politicians from the attitude of indifference in the environmental and ecological field, and to move politicians towards better and ethically more responsible fulfillment of environmental commitments.

Both events express some paradoxical development at least in Czech society: On the one hand, participation in traditional, institutionalized processes of political participation decreases; on the other hand, there is an apparent increase in new forms of political participation in the form of civil protests. On the one hand, the number of members in political parties and in traditional associations with political interests decreases; on the other hand, citizens' engagement in civic initiatives and associations is increasing. On the one hand, there is a skepticism about institutionalized policy in the Czech Republic; on the other hand, the number of civil initiatives (e.g. against political corruption) and protest movements is increasing. The dynamism within civil society cannot be overlooked. Apart from some skepticism about institutionalized and party politics, we are witnessing a kind of counter-movements phenomenon and new interest in politics. Nevertheless, this interest in politics has a specific form.

Recently, political sciences have been paying attention to the growing number of “critical citizens”. Critical citizens are described as "a group of people who feel closely committed to democratic values”, yet are “dissatisfied with the existing structures of democratic governance and, among other things, demand changes through protests.” (Gary S. Schaal/Claudia Ritzi) They talk about some transformation of democracy and political participation "from citizen-voter to active citizen."

In this context, an ethical reflection on the ethos of the public sector and active citizenship as well as an ethical reflection on these processes seem to be current burning challenges for theological ethics. Civil society is the primary place of democracy, because it is through meetings and contact with others in the public space that one experiences oneself as a political person. From this civic dynamism, society draws its energy. Civil society is the place where moral forces are mobilized, it is the engine of democracy. It is a space of communication and reflection in which social problems and challenges are articulated and discussed. It is a space in which social issues are clarified and subsequently “transferred” into the system of political decision-making.

The fact that the role of civil society is crucial for environmental issues is probably clear. We can even say that its role and its significance appear on this topic very explicitly because a close connection between the individual-ethical level of personal responsibility and the political level is evident. It is true that the ecological issue needs a solution primarily at the political level and the key part of reforms must come from politics (so to say, ‘from above’, top-down). But political solutions in a democratic society cannot do without broad public support and without the support of individual citizens' lifestyles (bottom-up), as Pope Francis underlines with emphasis in the encyclical Laudato si’ (cf. LS 211). That is why it is essential to change minds not only within politics and among political actors but also within society as such. Initiatives of young people who create actually – together with churches and scientists – an unexpected alliance concerning ecology and environmental protection, as renowned German climatologist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber recently said, can be an important contribution to protect, fulfil and guarantee the rights of future generations. These initiatives can be an important contribution to the transformation of mentality on the path to ecological-social transformation (to the issue “ecological-social transformation” cf. the last volume of German theological-ethical periodical Amosinternational). It is a challenge for theological ethics to accompany this process actively and in a differentiated way. 


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

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

Keywords: grandmother, elderly, Africa, civic engagement, agency

One of the perplexing issues today is the social exclusion and often outright discrimination against older persons, euphemistically called “seniors.” This is the case particularly for women who endure life-long exclusion, discrimination and exploitation due to patriarchal and sexist social arrangements. In their senior years their vulnerability becomes even more palpable.

However, beyond being victims of  various intersecting  social injustices, including ageism which adds to their vulnerability as they age, such older women’s dignity and agency may be dimmed but not extinguished by the various forces against them. Across cultures, time and space, they have shown  a remarkable resilience and ethical intentionality that deserves recognition, support  and engagement.

From Africa, for example we hear of grandmothers (a.k.a. Cucu in Kikuyu or Pim In Dholuo) who end up doing a second shift in parenting when  they take up the care of  their grandchildren when their own children die or are incapacitated, for example by the dreaded HIV/AIDS.

While in many  instances the inheritance of second shift parenting by grandmothers is often serendipitous, rather unexpected and undesired, the grandmothers (Cucus or Pims ) take on these roles with a deep-seated moral voluntariness and compassion, expecting and receiving no reward , not even  the much needed support in their work . Often theirs is the proverbial situation  of having to make bricks without straw. Theirs is often purely a labor of love.

In one specific case, efforts to offer children orphaned by HIV/AIDS a supportive system designed to  enhance their holistic healing, an institution called, Nyumbani (meaning At  Home) enlists many elder women  to act as surrogate parents. These women are  still socially active long beyond the biblical three score plus ten years, while elsewhere  their age-mates may be expected to fade away from active social lives, moving progressively towards “assisted senior living” and eventually “nursing homes.”

That these cucus are thus involved is not surprising considering that in the traditional African setting advanced age did not disqualify one from being an active member of the society. Strictly speaking there was no retirement. Grandmothers continued to play a positive role in the family, “doting” grandmothers  but also  active in the moral and spiritual formation of the younger generation, including those beyond their immediate family.

Nostalgically describing the role of Pim, cultural analyst Atieno Adhiambo reports for example that among the Luo the grandmother’s hut, Siwindhe, was a center for spiritual and moral formation and was recognized as such. The hut was a place where “much of the critical social intelligence of the Luo world was imparted by the Pim to those with little experience or knowledge of it.”[1]

I write this commentary concerned by the seeming erosion of this vital  role of senior women and to affirm that contrary to stereotypes, many women beyond 60 years of age are active in self-defined ways .

Despite a lackluster affirmation and often outright disdain for their agency, older women in Africa and beyond continue to exercise their agency in remarkable ways that make a huge difference to many, if only we could stop and notice. Such is the case for example of Margo M. who recently turned 80 and has spent the last 10 years since her retirement at 68, volunteering each summer to tutor Kenyan  high school girls in maths. She also mobilized resources and people around her to build a school where the girls get excellent all-round education despite their impoverished contexts. She is indeed a grandmother without borders.[2]

Writing on Mother’s Day in 2019, I am palpably aware of the many women like Margo or the Cucu of Nyumbani[3] whose compassionate care and love is intentionally wielded to make positive change for  many in their neighbourhood. I celebrate their agency, ethical intentionality and practical engagement  with social issues including education of girls, and holistic care of those living with HIV/AIDS - a care which is mostly unacknowledged, often ignored and hardly ever supported.

In concluding this commentary, I find the lyrics of  Holly Nears’ Song: “A Thousand Grandmothers”  truly pertinent. “Such grandmothers”Holly sings, “will  lend a loving ear, form a loving circle around the wounded and contain the brutal beasts of war and sing a lullaby much stronger than bombs.”

The grandmothers mays seem too soft to handle challenges, but they have a powerful force, the power of love. I concur with Holly when she says that we need to pray for a thousand grandmothers (and more), to  volunteer (their compassionate and practical wisdom). Pray,that instead of being “tucked deep out of sight,” they will  bring their power (of love )[4] to bear wherever it is most needed.

[1] See Adhiambo and Cohen eds. “The Powers of Women” In Siaya : The Historical Anthropology of  an African Landscape, Ohio University Press,1989: 93

[2] See   Margo’s story in her  Ted Talk where  explains  her intentionality and ethical considerations that have shaped her career as grandma without borders here:

[3] The director of Nyumbani is award winning Sr Mary Owen who continues  her work and labor of love and at 80 plus is herself one of the thousands of wise, compassionate and engaged Cucus in ways beyond the biological ones. For details of Nyumbani and its Cucu par excellence, Sr Mary Owens, see the interview here:

Whose Dignity?: Abolishing Child Marriage for the Girl Child

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

Key words: child marriage, child bride, girlfriend theology

“Although many people are against this marriage, I will not succumb to the pressure and let Ayu go. Our marriage is permissible in Islam, even though it is against the law,” said the 41-year-old Malay-Muslim Malaysian man of his 11-year-old Thai bride who is his third wife.[1] The public outcry that followed a year ago, continues to raise cultural sensitivities around the issue of abolishing child marriage in Malaysia. What lies at the heart of these cultural sensitivities?

                The main point of contention is touted to be the permissibility of child marriages from an Islamic standpoint. Proponents often cite the youth of Aishah, one of the Prophet Muhammad’s wives who was a mere six-year-old (this itself is highly debatable among Islamic scholars) with the marriage consummated three years later. The National Fatwa Council of Malaysia which issues religious edicts (fatwa) advised that the Prophet’s marriage to Aishah was driven by the contingencies of a “war-stricken state” to protect those orphaned and widowed by war, and that Muslims are “neither encouraged nor compelled to follow such practice” in contemporary times especially if they brought harm.[2] With the consent of parents or legal guardians and the Syariah court, Muslim youth in Malaysia are permitted to marry below 18 and 16 years for men and women, respectively (for non-Muslims, the legal marrying age is 18 for both sexes).

                Other religious-based cultural sensitivities that further justify child marriages include:  the transgression of close proximity (khalwat) between unmarried persons that may give rise to suspicion of “immoral acts”, as outlined in Section 27 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997 which on conviction, in addition to the shame and stigma attached, persons are “liable to a fine not exceeding three thousand ringgit (equivalent to USD718) or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both”. Worse, to commit zina or unlawful sexual intercourse, i.e. out of wedlock, carries graver penalties. To marry one’s daughter off to her rapist, an extension of zina, is to safeguard the “dignity” of her parents and the unborn’s right to inheritance from its father’s estate (if not born out of wedlock).[3]

                Girls Not Brides, a global network committed to ending child marriage, notes the incongruence of adhering to religious-motivated justifications for child marriage when the government of Malaysia has acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) in 1995 which sets the minimum age of marriage of 18. The rights framework insists on the harmfulness of child marriage on girls in particular on physical, psychological, educational, economic, emotional and spiritual grounds. Girls’ bodies thus become sites of moral and political contestations.

                Where is her dignity if she is bereft of informed consent in the name of family honour and religion? At the heart of cultural sensitivities lies gender binaries that are not adequately troubled: the imperative to marry and procreate which leads many to prematurely marry off their daughters (disproportionately more than sons) as economic burdens; the naturalness of women’s lot in life as wives and mothers; and the valorisation of virginity as the sum worth of girls and women. Recuperating not only the rights but also dignity of the girl-child, created imago Dei, is to start theology from their lived realities. Doing “girlfriend theology”[4] is to recuperate their voices silenced by systemic discrimination against the girl-child by familial, religious, legal and political institutions. It is to empower the girl-child against gender-based violence sustained by the weight of tradition and propriety.

[1] Abdul Rahim, N. F. and Ibrahim, R. (2018, July 2). “I will not let Ayu go: Husband of Thai child bride. New Straits Times. Retrieved from

[2] Sisters in Islam and ARROW (2018). National report: Malaysia - Child marriage: Its relationship with religion, culture and patriarchy. Retrieved from, p. 42.

[3] Ibid., pp. 19-21.

[4] Baker, D. G. (2005). Doing girlfriend theology: God-talk with young women. Cleveland, Ohio: The Pilgrim Press.

El Bolsonarismo, una teopolítica fundamentalista neoliberal

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Élio Gasda |

Keywords: Politics, religious and economic fundamentalism, Bolsonarism.

1. Fundamentalismo económico y el fundamentalismo religioso

El fundamentalismo parte de una afirmación absoluta con respecto a su propia verdad y rechaza como falsos los argumentos discordantes. La alianza de dos fundamentalismos en torno del Bolsonarismo desequilibró la esfera política brasileña: fundamentalismo económico y fundamentalismo religioso.

En el fundamentalismo económico el existir humano gira en torno al dinero. Pues bien, la acumulación privada e ilimitada de riqueza es el eje del capitalismo neoliberal. Algunas señales del neoliberalismo como fundamentalismo económico serían: la imposición de una verdad como absoluta, apoyada en una ciencia económica como única vía para el conocimiento de la realidad y la intervención sobre ella; la economía, como ciencia exacta, superpuesta a la política; el pluralismo teórico y práctico resignado ante la verdad de las soluciones económicas; individualismo radical.

El “secuestro” de la política se concreta en el rol del complejo financiero-empresarial privado transnacional en las decisiones de los gobiernos. El sistema redujo el espacio político de los países más vulnerables. El “secuestro” de la política se traduce por la influencia política desproporcional en relación a otros actores sociales. Seguridad social, salud, educación, se transforman en sus fuentes de acumulación de capital. El capital no tiene ninguna función social. Las reglas y lógicas del mercado desestabilizan la democracia.

El fundamentalismo religioso está constituido por una mezcla de moralismo (comportamiento), tradicionalismo y meritocracia (teología de la prosperidad). La divinidad se somete a las ambiciones humanas. Dios es utilizado como elemento del discurso político. La “bandera” política se transmuta en causa de Dios. Decisiones políticas son “obras del Señor”. La acción política, las instituciones públicas y los políticos deben orientarse por verdades de fe. Los adversarios ideológicos son enemigos de Dios. En la Iglesia Católica, el fundamentalismo irrumpe en movimientos neoconservadores, que rechazan la renovación del Concilio Vaticano II. En el protestantismo, el “neopentecostalismo” se utiliza para referirse a las iglesias evangélicas nacidas a partir de la década de 1980. Se caracteriza por una alianza de lo espiritual con el dinero y con el poder político. La teología es la de la prosperidad aplicada al mercado y a la política.

2. Bolsonarismo

El Bolsonarismo se presenta como un gobierno autoritario confesional-militar. Jair Messias Bolsonaro es el primer presidente con discurso evangélico neopentecostal. En el discurso de la victoria (28 de octubre) Bolsonaro citó a Dios varias veces y afirmó: “A nuestro lema lo fui a buscar a lo que muchos llaman caja de herramientas para reparar al hombre y a la mujer, que es la “Biblia Sagrada”. Lema bolsonarista: “Brasil por encima de todo, Dios por encima de todos”. Bolsonaro invoca a la nación y el nombre de Dios, colocando ambos en la arena política junto a su nombre. Quien ataca a Bolsonaro es enemigo “de la patria”, luego de Dios. Dios, patria y Bolsonaro son una trinidad que tiene la misión de “hacer la mayor limpieza que este país haya visto”.

El Bolsonarismo es la adhesión a la figura de Bolsonaro (llamado “mito” por sus seguidores). Mucha gente pasa a creer en la manera “bolsonara” de pensar. El repertorio va desde el ataque simbólico contra mujeres, negros y homosexuales hasta discursos fascistas, como el apoyo a torturadores militares y la incitación de la violencia y el odio. El Bolsonarismo tiene vínculos con las “milicias” de Río de Janeiro (los asesinos de la concejal carioca Marielle Franco). El gobierno bolsonarista estimula la guerra contra los campesinos del MST y criminaliza los movimientos sociales de resistencia al gobierno.

3. Populismo digital y redes sociales bolsonaristas

Una de las primeras reglas de la política de extrema derecha es satanizar a su enemigo. El Bolsonarismo invade con perfiles de Facebook, compra espacios en redes sociales, dispara cantidades absurdas de correos electrónicos y sms. Las redes sociales forman la base de apoyo de Bolsonaro. Las redes sociales cambiaron la forma de hacer la política. La mayoría del electorado se “informa” a través de redes sociales. La crisis política en Brasil marcó el fin de la era de las agencias de marketing político. Las campañas electorales recurren cada vez más a la internet. Los datos del Informe 2018 de Global Digital demuestran que, en Brasil, los jóvenes pasan, en promedio, más de nueve horas al día navegando por Internet. Eso es el doble del tiempo que pasan en la escuela. 

Brasil, según la encuesta global, es el país que más concentra populistas entre todas las naciones encuestadas. El 42% de los entrevistados brasileños se dijeron adeptos a discursos populistas. En Estados Unidos, sólo 1 entre 4 ciudadanos se declara populista. Los populistas mostraron una probabilidad considerablemente mayor de aceptar la visión de que el sistema político de su país está “roto” y necesita un “cambio total”. También confían menos en la televisión y otros canales de noticias. Consumen información a través de plataformas de medios sociales. El Informe sirve de alguna manera para entender el éxito en las urnas de populistas de derecha como Bolsonaro ¿Qué papel ejercen en la política las grandes plataformas que dominan la capa de aplicaciones de internet Google (dueña de YouTube), Facebook (dueña del WhatsApp), Twitter y otras? El término “seguidor” no tiene nada de inocente: fidelizar es transformar el seguidor en fiel ¿Cómo evaluar el impacto de las redes sociales e Internet como instrumentos de la democracia? 


La alianza entre fundamentalismo económico y fundamentalismo religioso reconfigura el escenario político. En ella, el “elegido” Bolsonaro tiene una misión recibida de Dios y del mercado. En esa “Teopolítica neoliberal”, la religión y la economía se funden en lo político. Representantes de iglesias y del mercado son nombrados para funciones ejecutivas en todas las esferas del poder público.

La distancia entre ricos y pobres está pasando a nuevos extremos. Brasil tiene 52,2 millones de personas en situación de pobreza. El 8% más rico tiene el 87% de la riqueza. 30 millones de trabajadores no tiene trabajo. El Bolsonarismo no tiene ningún proyecto para combatir la pobreza y el desempleo. Un equipo de operadores del sistema financiero dirige la economía brasileña sin ninguna visión de políticas públicas. Con el apoyo de los medios de comunicación, el plan es “una economía para 30 millones”. Es un neoliberalismo radical que ignora las políticas sociales y favorece el aumento de las desigualdades a niveles intolerables.

El Bolsonarismo no esconde su desprecio por la democracia. “Queremos jóvenes que empiecen a no interesarse por la política” (Jair Messias Bolsonaro, presidente de Brasil).

Dispatch and Appeal from a Colleague in Worcester, MA

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

For the June 2016 North American Forum I wrote "Dear Colleague" in response to the May 13, 2016 “Dear Colleague Letter: Transgender Students” issued by the Obama administration U.S. Departments of Justice and of Education with regard to Civil Rights for transgender youth in U.S. public schools. The piece was an appeal to you, Catholic theological ethicists in the world church, to learn more about transgender experiences and history. It is imperative that we develop informed competency on gender diversity.

In one of its first actions, the Trump administration reversed the 2016 policy in February 2017 (and noted gratefully by the U.S. Catholic Bishops). In just this past week, other Obama era policies with regard to LGBTQ+ persons have been challenged or rescinded by the Trump administration (again applauded by the USCCB, May 24, 2019). These policy shifts will impact children in our schools, patients in our hospitals, and personnel dedicated to defending the country. It will impact our families, friends, students, colleagues –people we love and care about.

I am appealing to you again.  A few weeks ago, our local bishop in Worcester, MA, gave a speech on "Transgenderism: The Multifaceted Challenges to the Moral” to participants of the 15th Annual Divine Mercy Conference on Medicine, Bioethics, and Spirituality (held at the conference facility on my campus, the College of the Holy Cross). Note that he specifically used the term “transgenderism,” a term which presents in itself an approach that frames the issue in a supposed ideology rather than in the lived experience of individuals. In that speech, which was covered in the local paper, Bishop Robert McManus made a number of claims about transgender individuals. One claim was that transgender identity is not supported by science. The bishop’s research for this speech included a controversial and debunked 2016 issue of The New Atlantis and When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment (Encounter Books, 2018) by Ryan T. Anderson. Anderson, of the Heritage Foundation, writes at the outset that the aim of his book is to support the claims made by Dr. Paul McHugh, a controversial psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins Medical School and featured in The New Atlantis issue. The members of the Church deserve better than our bishops’ cherry-picked science and proof-texting. If the Church is to have anything meaningful to say beyond that all persons have dignity and are created in the image and likeness of God (which is, sadly, still a provocative but half-hearted claim), then it must be deeply engaged in the ongoing conversations and research in the sciences, humanities, and health care as well as conversations with transgender persons. There is always more to learn.

Another claim of Bishop McManus is that transgender identity is rooted in heresy and a violation of the natural law. This argument is not new. While calling on theologians like Aquinas can indeed be fruitful as we speak about sex and gender, I would like to think that Aquinas was working with the best science available to him at the time to inform his theological conclusions, and that he would demand the same of us. What Aquinas and others knew is that old heresies fall away in light of new information. I think Catholic theology is uniquely poised to work courageously and creatively with new information about sex and gender. As I wrote to leaders at Holy Cross in the wake of the bishop’s speech and the media reports that have caused particular harm to one of our faculty colleagues:

I think, and believe, that the experiences of gender-nonconforming persons offer privileged vantage points on central theological commitments to the ultimate mystery of the human and divine. Catholicism has a lively imagination: transubstantiation, transfiguration, transcendent, hypostatic union, the Trinity. If our LGBTQIA+ friends are generous enough (and in my experience they are, beyond what we could hope to ask for) to share their experiences and insights, we can unlock that imagination now.

Problematically, the bishop’s comments misrepresented the science and the experience of many transgender persons. He found a welcoming audience for his views and interpretation of Church teaching, and I concede that this venue was not a scholarly theological conference. However, if moral deliberation is to include engagement with multiple sources of knowledge, wisdom, and insight, including and especially in this instance, the biological and social sciences, it must do the utmost to consult the best science and to represent that science accurately. As a non-scientist, this care is a challenge for me. And so, before I consult the science, I consult scientists. Thus, as I did in 2016, I asked colleagues, this time in biology and neuroscience, to steer me in the right direction. They directed me to the journal Nature, for accessible coverage of responsible research: Claire Ainsworth, “Sex Redefined” (18 February 2015); Sara Reardon, “The largest study involving transgender people is providing long-sought insights about their health” (24 April 2019); and video Adam Levy, “Understanding Transition” (24 April 2019). It is a small start. I will need to read more and ask many, many questions. There is always more to learn. I encourage you to please add your recommendations and findings to this short reading list in the comments section below! 

Colleagues, I realize that we might come to different conclusions based on the evidence we have presently and our readings of the Gospel and moral tradition. Let us seek out the best evidence as we have done on other issues like climate change. Let us listen to the experiences of transgender persons and those who provide their health care. Let us reach out to the scientists at our institutions to help us make sense of what we see and hear. And when we see something or hear something—look and listen first—then say something worthy of recipients of the Gospel of God’s mercy.  

Yellow Vests... and Beyond!

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

Key words: Yellow vest, civil organization, ecology, social justice

A yellow vest is what you use in a critical situation on the road in order to be seen and as an alert for the drivers prompting them to be careful and to slow down. In recent months it has become the symbol of a large movement of protest in France. A “Hey! We exist!” alert, from people, until then invisible? Despite the heterogeneous characters of the demands of the demonstrators Saturdays after Saturdays there are underlying claims and aspirations to be heard. They are probably not directly the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor, Pope Francis engages us to listen in Laudato si’ (no. 49). Yellow Vests are obviously not the poorest, they rather belong to the lower middle class, always on the verge of falling into poverty. These claims and aspirations are nonetheless not disconnected from the double cry of Laudato si’.

The protest initiated in the Fall has developed into two types of demonstrations. Groups of people occupied traffic circles, slowing down the traffic and establishing on a 24h basis a place of meeting, debating, but also of festive celebrations and active solidarity. Starting mid-November 2018 and still going on at the end of May 2019 (although obviously fading away) marches gather people every Saturdays in some cities including Paris. They are initiated on the social networks and voluntarily ignore the usual way of French social movements protests (a trade union or a civil organization calls for a demonstration, declares it to the Police and negotiates with the authorities the itinerary). These Saturdays marches have been marred with violence and confrontations with the riot police. Impacting images have gone worldwide. Most of the Yellow Vests are not violent and for a large part their voluntarily “unorganized” way of demonstrating allows radical and violent groups (like the Black Blocks) to infiltrate the marches. Nonetheless, on one side we have seen Yellow Vests sympathetic to violent acts because it is obviously what prompted some political response from the government and on the other side we have seen problematic attempts to discredit the movement by reducing it to violence. Without denying that there is a real issue here, it is important to not lose sight of what is going on with this complex social movement.

What prompted the Yellow Vests movement was a tax on gasoline. Presented by the government as an ecological tax aiming at discouraging the use of cars in an effort to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions, it was felt as profoundly unjust by a significant part of the population living in rural or suburban areas with no public transportation and for which using a car is not optional but a necessity. This is obviously an acute reminder that no ecological transition is possible without social justice. Ecological taxation is surely a way toward achieving the ecological transition but it must not increase social injustice. For example, a tax on gasoline is unjust when it puts the burden on those who have no choice in their means of transportation while kerosene for planes allowing urban people to fly low-cost for their vacations is still ridiculously low taxed. “We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental” (Laudato si’, 139).

The gasoline tax was only a starter. Its suppression in December did not extinguish the fire of the protest which was simmering for a while. Among the recurring complains is the feeling of contempt, disdain, and disregard which a significantly large part of the population is experiencing from those they call “the elite”, those “in charge” especially at the political level. A feeling of being ignored and left out. Globalization and digital revolution are a real threat for those who see jobs fading away and public services disappearing, meanwhile their low wages mean difficulties to make ends meet. Very often baby boomers (a generation very highly represented in the movement of Yellow Vests) express anxiety about their future and the future of their children and grandchildren who, they are convinced, will have a lower standard of living and less social protection than them. 

Two reflections come to mind from these observations when recalling some of Pope Francis teaching. First, the “throw away” culture (Evangelii gaudium 53) we are living in is producing exclusion at various levels and not merely at the bottom of the bottom of the society. When so many people feel disregarded, this reveal how much economic, political, and social participation, which is an important element of the Common Good, is broken down in our Western democracies and need to be reinvented. The type of populist response that we see growing in France and in Europe is obviously an illusion. The challenge to work on something else is all the more urgent. Second, even if the Yellow Vests themselves are not articulating an analysis at this level, it seems rather obvious that the consumerist society is in a dead end. “I consume therefore I exist in the society!” is the implied moto of a consumerist society and of the type of capitalism addicted to economic growth that goes with it. The Yellow Vests ask for more purchasing power and at the same time for more social and personal recognition. But the promise can never be fulfilled and it is only more frustration that is generated. A frustration that is a good motor for material and economic growth (people always want to buy more) but detrimental to the care for social relations and to the care for our “common home”. As Pope Francis highlights, “obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, above all when few people are capable of maintaining it, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction” (Laudato si’ 204).

What the Yellow Vests movement also emphasizes is a strong desire for more social life and more solidarity within a society which becomes day by day more individualistic. Testimonies coming from the gatherings at the traffic circles, which for some of them lasted several months in the cold winter, tell us repeatedly about experiences of concrete building of social relations. People confessing suffering loneliness and solitude in their life (single mothers, retired persons, etc.) are enthusiastic about what they encounter in these improvised places of socialization: solidarity, space where being listened without being judged, friendly atmosphere, a kind of family,… Reading many good investigations about who are the Yellow Vests and what are their stories, one is very impressed at the level of loneliness in our society and at the yearning for a type of social connections that consumption and social media will never fulfill (even if social medias have played a decisive role in the development of the movement). There is definitely something here about the “culture of encounter” (Evangelii gaudium 220) Pope Francis is so keen to promote as the antidote to the “throw away culture”.

Social and ecological justice, culture of encounter rather than throw away culture, moving out of consumerism: these themes of current Catholic social teaching are especially actual in the French context marked by the Yellow Vests movement. No doubt that such an analysis would fit as well the situation of many of our Western democracies marred by deep crises.

Power Outrage

1 Comment(s) | Posted | by Anthony Egan |

You’ve heard the story of the Devil’s visit to Johannesburg during yet another power cut. He knocks on a couple’s door.

The husband, stumbling through the dark, asks “Who’s there?” 

“The Prince of Darkness.” 

“How dare you show your face around here, you *@#$%%^!” 

Shocked, the Devil flees. The husband gropes his way back to the candle-lit lounge. His wife looks up.

“Who was it?”

“Oh, just another fool from ESKOM. Probably here with more empty excuses,” he replies.

Humour, as often is the case, expresses felt reality: public outrage and disgust at a situation that – in this case quite literally – leaves one powerless. The situation is very bad. As the frequency and duration of outages lengthens, the human and financial costs rise. Work productivity slides – unless you can afford generators. But generators are expensive and must be factored into the cost of goods and services. Small businesses go bankrupt. Education and public services are disrupted. Medical care outside big facilities with generators are disrupted. And individuals living outside such institutions on life supports like oxygen tanks run the real risk of dying. All of this goes against the first fundamental principle of Catholic Social Teaching: the Common Good.

Now, it is true that given the pathetic status of our power grid blackouts are necessary. Without them the grid would go down completely. Paradoxically the unsung heroes of this crisis are the ESKOM engineers who are trying to stop the greater catastrophe, South Africa returning – literally – to a new Dark Age. One cannot say the same about their incompetent bosses who failed to foresee the need for more power stations, a more diversified power supply system, and a bigger and better national grid. And especially those among them who misused their office to steal billions from the public, billions which we the public are going to have to fork out to repair the damage.

It’s unethical to shoot people for stupidity, much as it might satisfy one’s rage: on a practical level we might run out of bullets – and, let’s be honest, perhaps put ourselves at risk! In fact we cannot do this to the corrupt either, in a state without capital punishment. So if we can’t resort, as some states do, to the bullet or the lethal injection, what should we do? The very least the State can do is put the crooks behind bars for a long, long time. In unlit prison cells, perhaps, to save electricity. Until they pay back the money they’ve stolen. Every cent. (Readers may pick up here a suitably Biblical reference).

Will the State do this? I’m not holding my breath. Most of these crooks are well-placed with the government, with Parliament. And if some electoral lists are to be taken at face value, corruption is not considered an obstacle to office. Perhaps it is time that voters suffering from this debacle made it clear to government that unless something is done in this regard now , come May 8 th South Africa may see another kind of power outage, ‘of a special type’ one might even say.

Based on the promises of the parties and candidates running for election in next week’s polls, South Africans have come to expect a certain level of service delivery: housing, water, electricity, hospitals, schools, etc, in the continent’s most developed economy. It seems that these will promises are unlikely to be delivered on. We wonder how our fellow Africans have learnt to put up with minimal services from their respective governments, and are little surprised at the inter-African migration as people seek opportunities for jobs, livelihoods and stable services.

The Self-Defense in Valuing Human Life

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

Key words: Citizen security units, human life, self-defense

The question of the value of human life is imperative in emerging democracies and fragile societies. However, during conflicts in Africa, human life that is the highest good, the summum bonum given us by God is at stake. As a gift from the creator, a human person has naturally high value and dignity. Correspondingly, the Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society.[1] This belief is the foundation of all the principles of the social teaching of the Church. Contrariwise, human life is becoming susceptible because violence is emerging as the strategy in winning elections in emerging democracies. Electoral violence is becoming a threat to the very moral worth of human life. Many lives are lost during this democratic process. I examine here how citizens form security units to defend the worth of human life.


The militia accounts originate from the trepidations of contemporary African environment during violence. Currently the main source of violence is electoral violence. Contestation for political power in Africa has become more often than not a violent process.[2] Political struggle for power is gradually becoming systemically synonymous with violence during the electoral process. Political campaigns are marred with atrocities, loss of lives, hate speeches and language that incite the citizens against each other as ‘us’ versus ‘them,’ assassinations, rigging by theft of votes, disrupting election processes, chasing away voters using weapons and the malicious and wanton destruction of property and arson.[3] For instance, since the early 1990s, after the introduction of multiparty politics in Africa, elections have turned violent leaving many civilians dead in forty-five of the fifty-six countries.[4] 

Arguments advanced by John Locke justify that a state’s main function is to protect natural rights by ensuring equal human rights within a governed society and that every government’s purpose is to secure these natural rights of humanity that include right to life, liberty and property.[5] He also promoted identity toleration and impartiality.[6] In this regard, it is clearly articulated that the government has the noble duty among others to take care of the security needs of its people as part of the common good.

But when people’s lives are at risk as a matter of government sponsored militias, when it assists militia, works with militia and create a climate for militia to thrive. The worst scenario is where the government uses militia to tamper on the rights of its citizens during elections. What are the people expected to do? Since the early 1990s, governments have been known to use militia to fight perceived opposition identity groups so as to manipulate election decisions.[7] Human life becomes a target for political elites to ascend to power. The sacredness of human life and its sanctity is trivialized.[8]

During this period of election, militia pacts becomes a lucrative opportunity for youth to earn, consequently, militia organize themselves into a variety of militia fighters known as economic pro-government militias. Manipulated election outcome is for the convenience of the political elites who pay cheaply to use the youthful militia for suppression, repression and to displace voters stopping them from voting. The militia target perceived opposition groups.

The civilians are therefore intentionally targeted for harm without regard for the sacredness their lives. Though many scholars (Gwenya George, Neil Mitchell, Sabine Carey and Christopher Butler) have written on electoral violence and the militias that annihilate civilians, little has been written on how civilians struggle to self-defend the sacredness of their lives, their family members and the targeted identity groups in a bid to survive these attacks. This paper therefore looks at the militia in electoral violence in Africa and narrows down to how civilians defend human life against the militia in Kenya. The description is based on who they are, their characteristics, how they organize themselves and some of the tactics they use to protect human life and to defend themselves. Lastly, the paper proposes virtues that the defense team can use during the noble duty of protecting the sanctity of human life.

Types of Militias during electoral violence

Different people call militia differently according to their functions and types. The functions include security for, political elites, for economic purposes and for identity groups.

Economic militia

Economic militias are created in lieu of cash payment.[9] They are private non-state actors, recruited, hired by politicians, driven by economic motives. The economic militias develop because of the government failure to generate jobs for its citizens particularly the bulging youth in Africa. Youth unemployment level in Africa is at 50 % for graduates while the non-degree rate is at 12 percent.[10] The unemployed youth seeking for jobs become prey to the militia and they see this as an easy to get job. With their militia job, they are able to feed, educate and provide healthcare to their families during the one and a half year of election campaign and voting.  Militia use during elections is a lucrative business that has proliferated in frequency in Africa.  They have targets, membership, and characteristics and hold little technics. They are not professionals. Their duties range from being hired by the single political elites or political parties to cause chaos to their opponents during campaigns or give security to politicians during campaigns as they traverse the country. An ethnic group can also hire militia to settle large-scale disputes between conflicting communities over resources. There are times when they are hired by the government during campaigns to cause chaos, oppress a community in the opposition and to fight along with the police.

Pro-Government Militia

Pro-Government Militias (PGM (s)) are an informal group officially sanctioned by the state and given simple training such as weapon use and communication.[11] This practice substantively increases the risks for citizens because it has a higher level of human rights abuses, including murders, tortures, assassinations and disappearances.[12] The PGMs have three characteristics according to Sabine, Neil and Lowe.[13] First, they are identified with the government or sponsored by it. As such, they are sometimes seen being part of the security agents of a government. Whether seen together with state police or apart from them, they still have secret links between the group and the government, including information sharing, financing, equipping, training, and an operational link. Secondly, they are usually armed and seen or transported using government vehicles; their relationship with the regular forces might include sharing of personnel, security attire and joint operations. Lastly, they have some organizational structure that includes a name, an identifiable leader, a geographical region, ethnic, religious or political basis.[14]  Though some may have an unofficial link to the government such as the Janjaweed of Sudan, many of them have official links like the green bombers of Zimbabwe, Mungiki of Kenya and the Ethiopian tadaaqi (meaning Riflemen).[15] Their main aim is offensive with a design to take out perceived opponents of the regime and to spread fear and terror among civilians supporting opposition during elections. 

 In some instances, as in Uganda they are called auxiliary forces and have provisions in the law as crime preventers.[16] Bubulo George states that the Ugandan law allows for auxiliary forces like ‘Arrow boys’ and ‘Crime Preventers’ in addition to the armed force. He argues that their presence is well spelt out in the constitution that qualifies auxiliary forces as home guards, local defense forces, and vigilantes to support the police in their work.

Pro-government militias come to the action with private interests, which make it difficult for the government to monitor and oversee.[17] The use of these militias who are often ill-trained and poorly monitored is likely to produce more opportunistic violence and contribute to higher levels of human rights violations. In addition to these simple agency problems, governments may take advantage of these informal armed groups in order to shift responsibility for the violence they commit.[18] As such, they have been used vastly in electoral violence with the government having room to blame the very victims of the violence.

The use of militia is intentional to reduce government accountability about electoral violence. Neil Mitchel findings corroborate this when he asserts that:

Government outsource security tasks to irregular forces because they provide efficiency gains when leaders perceive themselves to be under threat in an uncertain environment. PGMs are attractive to governments because they are cheaper, more flexible…. They complicate lines of accountability for the violence committed, and therefore lower the political costs for governments when there is controversial use of violence…. These aspects make PGMs particularly attractive to governments that intend to use violence against domestic opponent but fear repercussions for excessive human rights violations.[19] 

As usual, most government will try to deny any links they have with any militia for as long as they can hide it.[20] Another reason why they deny connections to the militia is because of the fear of punishment by the international community particularly the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. These take place because of weak institutions, which are easily manipulated by the political elites for their interested ends. Militias are generally linked to state failure and violence for example, Bates Robert highlights the extreme impact that these groups can have on human rights in specific countries due to weak institutions.[21] New data shows that between 1982 and 2007, in over 60 countries governments were linked to and cooperated with informal armed groups within their own borders to destroy civilian human life.[22] In Darfur, approximately 2 million people were displaced and at least 180,000 died, reportedly due to the actions of Sudanese government-backed Janjaweed militia in 2005.[23] In the Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo relied on the violence of the Young Patriots to stay in power and to fight opposing voices during elections. They violate human rights. The PGMs are not professionals, they lack adequate expert training and it is difficult to control their activities since they adhere to no rules.[24] 

Thus human rights violations and other issues of demeaning the sacredness of human life increase unabated. It is in this context that scholars have linked militias with increased violence and the risk of harm for civilians.[25] Sustained pressure from international communities for accountability may reduce repression during electoral violence.[26] But that has failed lately as many will denounce the violence but not act beyond their simple condemnation. As such, the human life is traumatized and sometimes destroyed by the very government that is mandated to care for it. The government has an obligation to defend, maintain and preserve human life. Where it fails, the precious gift of human life must be defended by other means.

The principle of self-defense

The Church has perspicuously maintained its moral tradition on self-defense. In fact, while the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith Donum Vitae vividly describes human life as sacred:

Because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: No one can under any circumstances claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.[27]

The church teaches the uniqueness of the gift of human life and that only God has the right to take away human life. The sacredness of human life originates from God and ends with God. This sacredness should be respected. After the First World War, Peter Brock and Thomas Soknat described how certain Christians advocated for radical pacifism and rejected every kind of violence including self-defense and saw in Pacifism the sacredness of human life and the absolute inviolability.[28] Pacifists argue that in the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord recalls the commandment, "You shall not kill."[29] Going further, Christ asks his disciples to turn the other cheek, to love their enemies.[30] In another text, Jesus did not defend himself and told Peter to leave his sword in its sheath.[31] In the same way, Pope John Paul II spoke of peace via nonviolence, with specific declaration that “violence is evil” since it fails to defend human dignity. He pointed out that “violence is the enemy of justice,” and “only peace can lead the way to true justice.” His counterpart Pope Benedict proclaimed that violence was a degrader of both the perpetrator and the victim’s life. Correspondingly, in 1993, the United States (US) Catholic Bishops acknowledged the nonviolent ethic as plausible for the public order even as they raised increasing questions about “just war.” Though pacifism is many a times a moral option, however, in an environment where the lives of the whole identity group is at stake, I am uncertain that pacifism would be ethically wise.

There is righteous violence with the use of weapons.[32] Jesus used a whip to drive out the confusion that was at the temple.[33] Defense is morally accepted in cases where one is defending other innocent civilians, their children, state officers and security officers defending their territory. In electoral violence  where militia are targeting you, your identity community, do civilians give their other cheeks, what about those of their wives, mothers and children? This becomes a moral dilemma where waiting to be killed and killing the aggressor may both be morally inadequate.

The gift of life which God the creator entrusts to people calls humanity to appreciate the inestimable value of what they have been given and take responsibility for it.[34]   All people must adhere to this fundamental moral principle. It has to be at the centre of our moral answers and to clarify the problematic dilemmas and questions about the defense human life and human dignity.  The Church’s intervention on defense of human life helps people respect and love human life drawing from the fount of Christ’s love for the dignity of man that he came down to save human life. What moral criteria must we apply in electoral violence? The human life cannot be a sacrifice each election year for certain politicians to ascend to a political seat. The direct targeting of human life for political gain is unacceptable.

The natural moral law respects and states clearly the rights, purposes and duties of the human person. Each human person, in his absolutely unique singularity, is constituted not only by his spirit, but by his body as well, thus, in the body and through the body, one touches the person himself in his concrete reality.[35] To respect the dignity of man consequently amounts to safeguarding this identity of the man corpore et anima unus, (body and soul).[36] To this end, one can find the basic anthropological focus during electoral violence for decision-making about human life and its sacredness.

Intentional killing of the human person is therefore prohibited. The fifth commandment forbids direct and intentional killing as gravely sinful, a sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance.[37] For this reason, every person has a right to defend the sacred human life. The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the premeditated murder of the innocent citizens in Africa. The legitimate defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life and those of others; and the subduing, injuring, threatening, wounding, or killing of the aggressor…. that is the intended and the other is not.[38] Love towards oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality; hence, one who defends his life and those of others is not guilty of murder even if they are forced to deal their aggressors lethal blows.[39] In fact, the Catholic doctrine notes that if a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful, whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful.

However, in their defense, proportionality is important. The self and social defense must be proportionate to the violence doing the least harm. To justify taking away of another life, the victim must act proportionately since all human life has a basic right to life including that of the aggressor. Proportionality requires that a victim only inflict necessary and balanced harm.[40] Thus, the force used should be necessary to prevent the harm. Use of lethal force for conditional threats by the militia is legitimate in defense only if it is proportionate. If lesser force can prevent the harm, this would be acceptable.[41] Shooting to wound rather than to kill will be advised. A wounded attacker who no longer threatens should not be killed. Consequently, any unnecessary force is uncalled for and exceeding the limits of self-defense ceases to be proportional. Kadish Sanford’s theory of right to resist aggression reinvigorates this concern.[42] He postulates that everyone has a right against the state for protection from wrongful aggression.[43] Hence, self-defense is primarily legitimate as a rise to the challenge by an attacker including the state sponsored ones with ill motives that particularly threaten social life and the common good welfare. The justification promotes the need for each life in the contribution of the common good and the autonomy for all. Proportionate self-defense is concerned with the guarding, securing and protecting human life other than punitive illegitimate aggression on the aggressor.

Self-defense could be likened to the virtue of self-care where self-defense values the human life, and self-care invites the reflection of what Todd Salzman and Michael Lawler describe as replication on self as a gift of God, precious and unique.[44] According to James Keenan, using the virtue of self-care asserts that humans care for themselves affectively, mentally, physically and spiritually.[45] It is a unique relationship one has with self as a moral agent.[46] Avoiding self-defense would be suicidal. Thomas Aquinas argues that suicide is offensive as it upsets justice by depriving the common good of one’s life of charity.[47] For a society to nurture its people and have its full emancipation, it needs self-care. Self-care cannot be obtained within a security lapse. Defense is therefore not only a human right but also a grave duty and virtue for one who is responsible for the lives of the others.

Militias who target specific groups to kill are unjust aggressors. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause any harm.[48] In this way, making it legitimate for elders of an identity group who hold authority to have the right to defend the lives of those entrusted to their identity group.  This goes hand in hand with respecting the common good. When it comes to defense, the moral teaching of the Catholic Church on self-protection has been consistent.[49] The church stresses that individuals with responsibility to defend others have the right to protect human life. It is done to preserve the lives of all in the spirit of the common good. If police (seen here as the first force) and other militia (second force) turn against an identity group, the citizens have a right to defend themselves.

In a study I carried out in Kenya in 2015, a third force has emerged that seeks to preserve the human life in self-defense during electoral violence.  They are ordinary citizens, usually the ones targeted, who collectively try to resist the threats, harm and attacks by militia actions.

Citizen Security Defense Units

Citizen Security Defense Units known in Swahili local language as vitengo raia wa ulinzi refers to citizens of an identity group who collectively collaborate for security. The bearers of the unit are symbolically united by their specific cultural identity and have a mutually intelligible language. They form security units with obligations that work towards defending, protecting and guarding the group against any aggressive militia groups from invading.[50] In self-defense, the community can develop, flourish and be sustained as dignified persons.[51] Their sole purpose is to defend their lives, those of their identity group and sometimes their neighbors when called upon.

Additionally, citizen security defense units protect the community territory, property, and culture. In some contexts, they operate outside the constitution. For this reason, Kiwawulo Chris defines them as a paramilitary group organized by the people within the system, but outside the law.[52]

From the study findings, the citizen security defense units are non-professional in the academic sense but highly professional in the traditional wisdom. In this regard, they are often victims of militia activity due to inferior weapons and unskilled formal training especially during electoral violence. Sanctioned by community elders and leaders, they act on behalf of the ethnic nations. Community elders are leaders of the community given the highest status in African culture having lived a life of purpose and having been role models.[53] Pragmatically, they are sanctioned with authority to administer social norms and practices. With this authority, the identity nation looked up to them for leadership, guidance, security, sacredness of life, hospitality, respect, discerned decisions, language and proverbs, instructions, unity, values and social ethics among others that make up the very social fabric of the community. Elders in short organise the community and spell out social roles. They are behind the creation of security units for the survival of their groups. In this setting, the security defense unit’s first total command is to obey and respect its identity group through its elders.  The elder voices carry more weight to them than the government voice.

The remarkable image of these citizen security defense units is that they admitted they had four characteristics that distinguished them from militias. The intricate characteristics performed incorporate surveillance, fortification of security, pledging loyalty and fidelity to their group are identity based and found within certain geographic territorial areas.

First they carry out surveillance. Surveillance is a critical duty for the citizen security defense units in Kenya. It is through surveillance that they monitor and share information. Partly serving as vigilantes, since during electoral violence there is a lot of hooliganism and anarchy, they watch over their communities at night and during the day providing safety to its members. With a lot of patience, care and serenity they go about their duties of watching for intruders. They do not start bloodshed, but their primary goal would be to defend themselves if the aggressive militia attacks them. Most basically, they are not assailants or aggressors. They fight for certain community principles infringed on by the aggressor. However, they strongly oppose injustices and organize communities for demonstrations and peaceful objections.

Secondly, they are identity based and as a result are found within the identity groups’ geographic regions. The Luo citizen security defense unit will be within Luoland in Western Kenya and so are the Kisii and Kuria. The Taita, defense group will be found in Mombasa and the Kalenjins in the Rift Valley. Kikuyu are placed in Central Kenya neighboring Kambas to the East. These are territories that are protected. In these territories, social lives of the identity groups go on smoothly. Youth are socialized into the many moral and social ethics of the group. Once the youth are aged 17 and above, they are ready to protect their people, community and territory. While real threats to security exist in Kenya that include terrorism from Al Shabaab, armed robbery and electoral violence that takes place each election year, the systemic electoral violence has the largest mass killings of civilians and the main reason why these defense units exist. They justify their existence due to the systemic electoral violence that they witness each term.

Thirdly, their duties are various but revolve around security fortification and survival tactics for the identity group, mediation, noise-making, calling for media attention and internationalization of their situation. Running battles are also a tactic to direct the police and militia away from the community. Elders do traditional evaluation of the battle and if they consider that the battle is getting closer to the community, they organize to relocate their members for a period of time as the violence continues. If they have intelligence that an armed group would attack them beforehand with sophisticated weapons, they relocate before the arrival of these invaders.

Relocation has a variety of strategies. The Turkana in North Eastern Kenya relocate in hiding underground tunnels or move away deeper into the interior land. The Turkana were a target in 2012. Turkana South Constituency, an opposition stronghold, had over 100, 000 people eligible voters who live here but who could not vote because they had fled the area in anticipation of an army raid and invasion.[54] However, when the army arrived there was no one in the houses, in the bushes or nearby, all had been evacuated to safer grounds.[55] The violence was meant to disrupt the electoral process by displacing the voters and rendering them unable to vote. As was anticipated, the Turkana did not vote as they were displaced. The displacement forced the people out of their houses and homes, disrupted the voter registration process that was ongoing and those who had registered to vote could not come back to vote because of the presence of the army. The opposition votes were lessened by this act of attack on the Turkana. 

Progressive Government regimes have always marginalized those perceived to be in the opposition areas. Some of these areas are semi-arid and have basically been defined by backwardness, disdain, mutual distrust and disgruntledness. The opposition populace feels sidelined, marginalized and left behind in development, jobs and view themselves as victims of unjust distribution of resources. Hence, Turkanas view deployment of security forces by the government as an invasion by rivals. This prompts retaliation. Thus in 2012, in a dramatic turn, the Turkana killed over 100-armed police officers and took away their weapons The Turkana militia argues that they know their terrain so well that even the army cannot win. The attack cast a doubt on the government’s ability to provide adequate security at any time leave alone during elections. In 2007 to 2008 over 1500 people died during an electoral violence in Kenya.[56]

The Maasai move ahead to distant areas away from the attackers, the other identity groups may move into a church, move to the nearest urban centers where identity groups are pluralistic so that they are not a target.

Fourthly, the citizen security defense units are not likely to desert, betray or disobey their elders and unit since they have an advantage of familiarity, identity and a common cause. Other than being committed to the cause of their loyalty through rituals, vows and prayers, they also have the advantage of being well concealed once in the community. They remain an identity groups secret. They are highly motivated by survival of their group and their territory. They fight to not necessarily win but to ensure protection through a variety of schemes.  

Unlike the other PGMs or the economic militias, the citizen security persons are not mobile, but are sedentarily fixed within the geographic area of the identity group. Being among the people they know very well, they are not overtly offensive in nature, but wait for delegation by the traditional elders for any coordinated action. Hence, they do not seek to engage, are tolerant and rarely neutralize except in defense. Their aim is to let the opponent know that they are present and that any attack of their identity group will be countered. They are autonomous of state activities. They work along a simple timeline. However, there were times when they had to force out all able-bodied youth to assist in the overnight surveillance.

Because of these groups, a decrease in the number of deaths during the 2013 electoral violence was noted. They are able to mitigate to certain degree the ethnic cleansing and genocidal motives. The groups were well coordinated and controlled with active support of the community members. They solidify their coordination through traditional intelligence and communication skills. These skills include coded whistles, claps, mobile phone codes inter alia. Essentially, they are able to identify insurgent militias and take appropriate actions since they know each other well in their neighborhood. This structure has played a great role in the mitigation of the violence during each election year. The remarkable zeal and a strong mind set make them more focused on the value of human life and safeguarding of their identity group such that they worry little about the limitations of their inferior weapons. With the pro-government militia and other militia launching attacks, the Citizen Security Defense Units organize themselves to resist attacks and counteract threats. In this sense, the threat of further militia activity by invaders is reduced.

The Kalenjins are usually trained during the transition to adulthood process on community defense and warfare tactics.[57] They learn warfare languages at this time and other communication codes as part of the community cultural practices. They are then well prepared for any invaders. They were very active in protecting not only their community in the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya but also the communities that were in the opposition. This included sending food to other identity groups of their coalition. Nicholas affirms this when he writes that there were credible reports of the armed Kalenjin groups preparing to protect themselves in the next electoral violence across Kenya in 2013. Groups like Mungiki, a lethal militia from central Kenya were armed by the political elites and allegedly killed 50 people in Central and Rift valley areas of Kenya in the 2007-2008 electoral crisis.[58] In 2007-2008, Kalenjin militia allegedly attacked opponents in a Church, kicked out heterogeneous groups from Bomet and killed those who did not heed the warning to leave.

The notion of organized identity and political militias is always refuted by the government.[59] The unconstrained behavior of the attacking militia need not be tolerated. They pursue a policy of brutal pressure against its own citizens so as to weaken their numbers, reduce their economic strength, and to politically shut them down during elections. For citizens to stop the aggressors’ effects, they have to defend themselves. In this way, they are able to de-escalate the violence, massive human rights abuse and crimes against humanity.

This type of security units bridge the security gap left by the state’s incapacity and helplessness in responding to and managing widespread election crises. This particular ethnic security unit’s presence reduces the chances of full-blown civil war as they defend ethnic territories. Intrinsically, they stabilise the community security dynamics and demands. They also serve to reduce collective ethnic identity emotions caused by fear of being arbitrarily attacked by others as the citizen security units usually create a wall-like fence, keeping day patrols and night vigils. 

 Many may think of traditional practices as only an outdated and unnecessary in the contemporary world. But in Africa, there are these units that are sorely protecting the people without whom the ethnic or identity cleansing would have soared and genocide would be a common business. Though these citizen security units in many constitutions of the African states are not authorised, they have been the backbone of defence for minority groups or majority groups that are marginalised.

Benefits of Citizen Security Defense Units

Citizen Security Defense Units keep peace and hasten the return to normalcy within the country. They assist lost children find parents. They also welcome home ejected community members from other geographic urban centers that are not homogenous. They put up simple structures for the displaced to settle and ensure they are settling in well. They mobilize the community for food and other needs for these groups.   It is a well-regulated militia. According to Sabine Carey, Neil Mitchell and Will Lowe, there are militias that reduce the monopoly of state forces over the communities perceived as in the opposition.[60] They also strengthen the entire civilian regime thwarting dictatorship to a lesser limited triviality.

Many government forces in Africa have never hesitated to mow down hundreds of defenseless citizens as was the cases in Cameroun 2008, Ethiopia 2015, Guinea in 2009, Libya in 2011 and in Darfur Sudan in 2010. The forces always do so with impunity knowing that the international community are not policing in the world.[61]

Their objective is apolitical. Though they are known to defend the narrow interests of the identity jurisdiction within the larger country, without them, electoral violence in Kenya would be dangerous to human life. The citizen security militia defends the human dignity within their identity group. Primarily, these groups have assisted people to belong together, vote together and suffer together. Though electoral violence is the contemporary evil of a democratic process in fragile states, the violence has in disguise acted to improve the cohesion of the identity groups and their resolve against a corrupt government. The local identity groups prefer to remain among the marginalized than support a government that steals from its own people.

The Moral Obligation to Defend Human Life

Tasked with the moral obligation to save life, the Citizen Security Defense Units requires the virtue of fidelity that they treat each other in the group as a relational team with loyalty to each other and to their identity group protecting with special care their nation. The virtue of justice is important for this group so that they practice impartiality even in defense where the protector will treat the aggressor as a human person. Man is called to a fullness of life and one cannot want to enjoy his life by eliminating another because both lives in the eyes of God are equal. The virtues of courage in the face of attack and suffering is imperative and the virtues of hope for a peaceful state and prudence that in their discernments as they struggle to save the human lives recognizing the dignity and sacredness of the human person.

It is important to note that those who use their political power and potency to employ, hire and train militia to arbitrarily kill civilians in order to gain political mileage is guilty. Such a person is guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that they have directly or indirectly committed or encouraged by use of their paid militia.[62] Whatever is opposed to human life through murder, assassinations, ethnic cleansing and genocides that impedes the integrity of human dignity are all infamies.[63] Correspondingly, the human person is the clearest reflection of God’s presence in the world with all church’s work out to protect it through its justice and peace pursuits.[64] The lust to win a political power by any means is wrongly advised. Sanity must return to the democratic process of elections for political seats in Africa. Human dignity and life must be respected and protected by all because essentially, human life given to us by God is a more precious gift than a political seat. Conflicts should be prevented before they escalate to violence by replacing structures that produce violence with those that generate peace. 


Many youth in Africa are idle including those that have degrees. The political system has not organized itself to generate employment so that youth can have meaningful lives. As such, youth militancy becomes an optional tool used by the political elites during campaigns and elections. For the youth in Africa to be focused, youth militancy will require new innovative and serious focus on these groups as individual persons. Each youth that has no employment becomes an easy prey for ploy to cause chaos at a very little fee. This coupled with the fact that electoral violence perpetrators have never gone through a judicial system leaves a bitter taste in the mouth for the victims. A judicial process to probe electoral violence in the Counties and justice for the victims could mitigate the practice. Without judicial remedy, these militias will continue to grow to unprecedented heights and continue their criminal acts with impunity.

[1] United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Life and Dignity of the Human Person, 2016.

[2] Biegon Japheth, The Use of Militia in Electoral Violence, Pretoria: KYN Press, p. 23, 2009.

[3] Genyi George Akwaya, ‘Democracy and Electoral Violence in Africa: The Militia Experience in Nigeria,’ International Journal of History and Research (IJHR), Vol. 3, (2), 23-36, 2013.

[4] Achieng Anne Ondigo, The Role of Transformative Mediation in Electoral Violence, 2016,

[5] John Locke, Treatise 69.

[6] John Locke, Toleration 2.

[7] Korwa G. Adar and Isaac M. Munyae 2001. "Human Rights Abuse in Kenya under Daniel Arap Moi 1978-2001. African Studies Quarterly 5(1): 1. [online] URL:  

[8] The Jerusalem Bible, Genesis 1: 26-27 clearly articulates the fact that we are created in the image of God. In verse 26, God said, 'Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves, and let them be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all the wild animals and all the creatures that creep along the ground.' And in verse 27, God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.

[9] Hynes Bridget, Children f the Borderlands: Young Soldiers in the Reproduction of Warfare, Unpublished Dissertation, Denver University, P. 175, 2008.

[10] African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET) Africa, Unemployment in Africa: No Jobs for 50% of Graduates, 2016 Report.

[11]Dara Kay Cohen and Ragnhild Nordas, ‘Do States Delegate Shameful Violence to Militias? Patterns of Sexual Violence in Recent Armed Conflicts,’ Journal of Conflict Resolution, 59 (5), 877-898, 2015.

[12] Sabine Carey and Neil Mitchel, ‘Pro-Government Militias, Human Rights Abuses and the Ambiguous Role of Foreign Aid,’ German Development Institute, Briefing Paper 4, p. 1, 2016.

[13] Sabine Carey, Neil Mitchel and Will Lowe, ‘States, the Security Sector, and the Monopoly of Violence: A New Database on Pro-Government Militias,’ Journal of Peace Research, 50 (2), 249-58, p. 5, 2013.

[14] See also Neil Mitchell, Sabine Carey and Christopher Butler, Impact of Pro-Government Militias on Human Rights Violations, International Interactions, Empirical and Theoretical research in International Relations, (40) 5, 250, 2014.

[15] Human Rights Watch, Pro-Government Militias,’ Human Rights Watch Publications, Nairobi, June 2008.

[16] Ugandan Constitution, Part 1 Preliminary interpretation 2 e.

[17] Neil Mitchel, The Impact of Pro-Government Militias on Human Rights Violations, International Interactions, 40 (5) 2014.

[18] Fiorina P. Morris, ‘Group Concentration and delegation of legislative Authority,’ Regulatory policy and the Social Sciences, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.

[19] Neil Mitchel, The Impact of Pro-Government Militias on Human Rights Violations, German Development Institute Briefing Paper 4, p. 1, 2016,

[20] Neil Mitchel, The Impact of Pro-Government Militias on Human Rights Violations, p. 1

[21] Bates, Robert H. Probing the Sources of Political Order. In Order, Conflict, and Violence, edited by S. N. Kalyvas, I. Shapiro, and T. E. Masoud. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

[22] Sabine Carey, Neil Mitchell and Christopher Butler, ‘The Impact of Pro-Government Militias on Human Rights Violations, 2015.

[23] Guha Sapir, ‘Darfur: Counting the Deaths,’ Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disaster, p. 6, 2005.

[24] Sabine Carey, Neil Mitchell and Christopher Butler, ‘The Impact of Pro-Government Militias on Human Rights Violations, 2015.

[25] Osita Agbu, Ethnic Militia and the Threat to Democracy in Post-Transit Nigeria, Oslo: Nordic Africa Institute (127), P. 12, 2004. See also Neil Mitchell, Sabine Carey and Christopher Butler, Impact f Por0government Militias on Human Rights Violations, International Interactions, Empirical and Theoretical research in International Relations, (40) 5, 2014.

[26] Demeritt, Jacqueline H. R. Delegating Death: Military Intervention and Government Killing. Journal of Conflict Resolution, (59) 3, 428-454, 2015.

[27] Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Donum Vitae, Instruction on respect for human life in its original and on the dignity of procreation Replies to certain questions of the day, February 22nd 1987. See also Catechism 2258.

[28] Peter Brock and Thomas Soknat, Challenge to Mass: Essays on Pacifism form 1918-1945, Toronto: university of Toronto Press, P. 71, 1999

[29] Jerusalem Bible, Exodus 20:13.

[30] Jerusalem Bible, Mathew 5: 39.

[31] Jerusalem Bible, Mathew 26: 52

[32] Jerusalem Bible, John 2: 15.

[33] Jerusalem Bible, Mathew 21: 22.

[34] Respect for Human Life Donum Vitae Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith 1987, Replies to Certain Questions of the Day.

[35] Pope John Paul II, Discourse to the members of the 35th General Assembly of the World Medical Association, October 29, 1983: AAS 76 (1984), 393.

[36] Gaudium et spes, no. 14, par. 1

[37] Catechism of the Catholic Church 2268, see also John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae 56. 69 Cf. Genesis 4: 10.

[38] Catechism of the Catholic Church 2263, see also St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 64, 7, Corp. art.

[39] Catechism of the Catholic Church 2264

[40] David Mapel, Moral Liability to Defensive Killing and Symmetrical Self-Defense, Journal of Political Philosophy, vol 18 (2), 2010, 198-217.

[41] Whitley Kaufman, Justified Killing: The Paradox of Self-defense, New York: Rowman and Littlefield, p. 22, 2009.

[42] Kardish Sanford, Respect for Life and Regard for Rights in the Criminal Law. California Law Review 64 (4) 1976, 871-901.

[43] Kardish Sanford, Respect for Life and Regard for Rights in the Criminal Law. California Law Review 64 (4) 1976, 871-901.

[44] Todd Salzman and Michael Lawler, Catholic Theological Ethics: Ancient Questions Contemporary Responses, New York: UPA, p. 181, 2015.

[45] James Keenan, ‘Proposing Cardinal Virtues,’ Theological Studies, 56, 709-729, 1995.

[46] James Keenan, ‘Proposing Cardinal Virtues,’ Theological Studies, 56, 709-729, 1995.

[47] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, 2-

[48] Catechism of the Catholic Church 2265

[49] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2258 to 2230 has the teachings of the Church on Human dignity, sacredness of life and the self-defense. It outlines the historical past of the original sin when Cain murdered his brother Abel confirming that only God has the power to take life. It goes up to the contemporary issues of health, euthanasia, homicide, respect for health during scientific researches, safeguarding peace, avoiding war and legitimate defense when aggressors attack. Self-defense and its justification in the Catholic Church teachings is also discussed as a right and a grave duty by Sam Guzman in The Catholic Gentlemen in the 2014 issue.  Charles Curran in his book, Change in Official Moral Teachings, 2003, page 149, where death is only legitimate in ‘necessary defense’ expressing that the harm done must be unintended, making the primary reason for the behavior is assessed by intention. In equal assertion, Maurice Nyunt Wai writes comparing Budhism and Christian Virtues in the book ‪Pañcasila and Catholic Moral Teaching: Moral Principles as Expression of Spiritual Experience in Theravada Buddhism and Christianity, page 53-86, 2002, Gregorian Biblical Bookshop, in which both teachings not only condemn the killing of the extremely precious human life but also the preservation of life.

[50] Cohen P. Antony, The Symbolic Construction of Community, London: Rutledge, p. 119, 1985.

[51] Cohen P. Antony, The Symbolic Construction of Community, London: Routeldge, p. 119, 1985.

[52] Kiwawulo Chris, Uganda Militia in Electoral Violence 2015, 2.

[53] Manu Ampim, Five major African Initiation Rites, African Studies, 2003. To read further on African elders and their role and influence during elections particularly when elections are stolen in Africa, See David Bigman’s book poverty Hunger and Democracy in Africa: Potential Limitations of Democracy in Cementing Multi-ethnic Societies, New York: Springer, 255-290, 2010.

[54] Tristan McConnell ‘After Massacre of Police, Army Moves into North Eastern Kenya,’ PRI Conflict and Justice, November Issue 2012.

[55] Tristan McConnell ‘After Massacre of Police, Army Moves into North Eastern Kenya,’ PRI Conflict and Justice, November Issue 2012.

[56] Odhiambo Maureen Achieng, Multiple Mediation And Conflict Resolution: The Case Of Kenya’s Post-Electoral Conflict (2007/2008), Unpublished Thesis, University of Nairobi.  p. 25. 2014.


[57] This is a symbolic initiation process called circumcision. It’s a spiritual purity when young people transition to adulthood. They are taught how to be adults, the do’s and don’ts and the community social roles. At this time they also go through rituals of identification that have binding ties. Though handling of traditional weapons starts at an early age of between 6-14 years, at this stage they are taught use of traditional weapons for safety and defense.

[58] Peter Kagwanja and Roger Southall, Kenya’s Uncertain Democracy: The Electoral Crisi of 2008, New York: Routledge, p. 112, 2013.

[59] Nicholas Daniels, 2009.

[60] Sabine C. Carey, Neil J. Mitchell and Will Lowe, ‘States, The Security Sector and the Monopoly of Violence: A New Database on Pro-Government Militias, ‘Journal of Peace Research, 50 (2) 249-258, New York: Sage Publications, 2012.

[61] Carlson Anyangwe, Revolutionary Overthrow of Constitutional Orders in Africa, Bamenda: Langaa, RPCIG publishers, p. 107, 2012.

[62] Catechism of the Catholic Church 2287

[63] Evangelium Vitae – The Gospel of Life: ‘On the Value and Inviolability of human Life,’ Paragraph 34, 1995.

[64]United States of America Catholic Bishops, ‘The Challenge of Peace,’ Paragraph 15, 1983.

Sin and Evil in the Church: Some Reflections Originating from Pope Emeritus Benedict’s Recent Letter

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Sigrid Müller |

Keywords: Sexual abuse, Catholic Church, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, Church structures, dignity, human rights

„Yes, there is sin in the Church and evil.”[1] This sentence captured my attention in Pope emeritus Benedict’s recent letter about the sexual abuse crisis. By admitting that evil and sin not only exist outside the Catholic Church, but also within, he made us seemingly understand that there is no clear-cut division between a Holy Church and a sinful environment. His explanation that the Church can be regarded as a field in which grain and weeds grow next to each other, that will be separated by God in his final judgment, apparently underlines this.

Order and love

Yet, this conclusion seems to be premature, for on the question “Why is it possible that evil and sin can dwell in the Church?,” Pope emeritus Benedict XVI’s approach to the problem of sexual abuse within the Church seems to follow the line of St. Augustine. Augustine’s order of love offers a pyramid-like structure that directs all human endeavour to the love of God. Sin, accordingly, is a neglect of faith, a disrespect for the ordered structure and, above all, an offence to God – a result of human beings turning entirely towards themselves, gazing at earth instead of heaven. The Pope emeritus suggests in his letter that evil comes into the Church because some individual persons refuse to respect this structure and lapse into sin. In spite of this, as Pope emeritus Benedict reminds us, the Holy Church, as the pure structure that leads to God, remains unaffected. Sin that is committed within the Church’s historically lived form does not corrode the Church’s essence. 

Many would express a similar thought but word it differently, e.g. by affirming that the gospel of Jesus Christ remains valid and is more important than failure in the Church. Envisaging the situation, however, in terms of a pure Church that remains and of attributing failure solely to the individual has its drawbacks. These became obvious[2] when the Pope emeritus expressed his concern as “to protect the gift of the Holy Eucharist from abuse” without adding the same concern for protecting the woman he referred to, and others, from sexual abuse. The implicitly expressed hierarchy reminded me immediately of medieval sources in which one can find the argument that, from a metaphysical point of view, God, as the highest good, has more dignity and is preferable to a human being. Yet, one could also find other aspects, and, therefore, I would like to return for a moment to the idea of the pyramidal structure.

A pyramid is a wonderful piece of architecture. Its clear-cut surface, harmony and simplicity is simply impressive and draws our view upwards, to the pointed summit scratching the sky. By doing so, however, it makes us forget the ground on which it is built, the many stones that need to be carved for constructing it and on which the forces exert their weight. A pyramid reflects the ascent from shadow to light, from earth to heaven, but also from the governed to the governor, the powerless to the one being in power. This is the sore spot, on which I would like to put my finger. What if we close our eyes for a moment, hide the beauty of this hierarchical system from our view by turning slowly our back to the pyramid, open our eyes again and draw our attention to a neglected stable, small and not very impressive, in which God, as we believe, became man?

Incarnation and love

The turn to the paradigm of incarnation makes God visible not as the end of a hierarchical structure, but directly as a person we can encounter, in prayer, but also through every person we meet – a child, a young person, an adult, an aged person, whoever comes across on our way. Whatever good or evil we will do to this person, we will do it to Christ. This is why personal dignity and human rights have an unquestionable place in the Church. There is no way that we can dismiss the dignity of a person in order to serve God. If we accept this as a consequence of our belief in incarnation, the structure of the Church cannot be seen any longer as something self-sufficient. Rather it is nothing but a means of communication between people and God. As we know, insufficiently reflected structures can serve to justify suppression, to satisfy personal longing for power, to hide evil commitments, and they can hinder persons from feeling who they are, who they want to be; it can cut them from their inner sources of life. Structures fit for purpose, however, help to strengthen those who seek to find God in a communion of Saints.

Structures serving God through serving persons

The structure of the Church and structures within the Church must fit to serve God by serving human beings. Shaping the Church responsibly includes fostering the capacity of its ministers and its members to empathetically understand other persons, and to be able to see the worth and dignity of oneself and of others, to love and encounter God who is loving and just. It entails also the capacity to reflect on structures and to change those that are suppressing persons and hindering them from developing morally and personally.

The Church is a structured culture of encounter, both with the word of God and with the flesh of God, in the Eucharist and in the concrete encounter with persons. In our times in which reports of sexual abuses continue to emerge, it is clear that there is no way for the Church to live up to this entrusted task without continuously analysing the stones and the ground of the pyramid, with the indispensable help of continually turning round to seek inspiration in the shabby stable.

[1] Pope emeritus Benedict XVI’s letter titled “The Church and the Scandal of Sexual Abuse” was pre-published on the internet portal kathnet on April 12, 2019. It was written for publication in the April issue of the Bavarian „Klerusblatt“ and translated into English by Anian Christoph Wimmer, [April 28, 2019].

[2] See Hans Pock’s remark in the report „Kritik an Benedikt-Text: ‚Eines Ratzinger nicht würdig‘“ (April 12, 2019), Further a collection of reactions see the homepage of the University of Münster, [April 28, 2019]. The representatives of the German moral theologians have criticised the Pope emeritus’ portrait of the development of moral theology in their text “Prisoner of prejudice” (14.4.2019); German version: [April 28, 2019]; Italian version: Further reactions are collected at the homepage of the University of Münster, see:

City Planning to Serve Ordinary People or Those in Power?

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Mary Yuen |

Keywords: city planning, development, housing problems, environmental problem, Laudato Si, political structure

Everyone wants to own a comfortable and decent home. Good city planning should aim at providing people a decent place to live in dignity, taking into consideration the impact of city planning on the future generation and the environment. In Hong Kong, due to the government policy of giving privilege to the property developers since the colonial rule period, as well as the wrong use of land and lack of long-term city planning, Hong Kong is regarded as one of the world’s least affordable property markets, leading to serious housing problems. Tens of thousands of low-income families are waiting in long queues for public rental housing and they are forced to live in super small cubical units. Some families even live in a room of less than 15 square meters.

In order to solve the land supply problem, the existing government set up a Task Force on Land Supply in September 2017, and a public consultation was conducted in April 2018 in order to arrive at a consensus on land supply measures. However, without waiting for the report from the Task Force, in the name of increasing land and housing supply in various ways and preparing for future use, Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, announced an ambitious, controversial plan of creating a new metropolis on artificial islands, known as “Lantau Tomorrow Vision” in her annual policy address in October 2018. Lam said that there is an urgent need to solve the housing problem and people cannot wait. This scheme will be the most expensive infrastructure project in Hong Kong, or one of the world’s most expensive construction projects, with an estimated cost of at least HK$624 billion (US$80 billion).

In view of this multibillion-dollar project, Hong Kong city planning scholar Mee-kam Ng raises an important question: Does city planning aim at serving those in power, and maintaining the interests of a small group of people with a grand vision and blueprint? Or is city planning really able to serve the ordinary people and solve the land problem, without destroying the ecology?

In this project, the government will build several gigantic man-made islands east and north of Lantau Island, the largest island in Hong Kong and where the Hong Kong airport is located. These huge artificial islands are envisioned to provide 1,700 hectares of land, where an estimated 260,000 to 400,000 new homes can be built to accommodate 0.7 to 1.1 million people. If everything goes smoothly, these new homes would be available by 2032. Such a plan astonished many people, especially members of the Task Force on Land Supply, as reclaiming 1,700 hectares of land was never mentioned during the public consultation.

There are a number of concerns about this project. One of the biggest concerns is the cost. Although the estimated cost is billions of dollars, the government denied it would drain the public coffers because the estimated cost averaged out to an affordable HK$50 billion annually over 15 years. However, legislator Eddie Chu argued that the estimate was misleading because it did not count in the inflated cost. Chu suggested that the final bill could be more than HK$1 trillion (US$128 billion) by the time reclamation began, that is, almost all the financial reserves of Hong Kong. Moreover, objectors also expressed concern about cost overruns, which had caused trouble to major infrastructure projects in recent years. Many wonder if it is worth investing all in one project. Is it making good use of resources?

Critics argued that other options for boosting land supply should be employed, including developing 1,300 hectares of brownfield sites, the degraded agricultural land occupied by businesses like car parks or recycling yards in the New Territories. A study by Greenpeace found that it would cost only 10 per cent of the Lantau budget to buy 800 hectares of unplanned brownfield sites. Even when the cost of relocating businesses operating on such sites or infrastructure is added, the cost would be much less. Moreover, developing these existing sites is much faster than reclaiming land. Greenpeace said by spending less money, the government could gain large tracts of land for development while solving planning problems in rural areas. This is a much better alternative. As Professor Ng points out, figures show that Hong Kong does not lack land, but there are extremely serious problems in planning and distributing land usage.

Furthermore, concerns have centered on pollution and environmental damage arising from the creation of new land. Large scale reclamation will damage the ecosystems of the sea and its surrounding areas. Residents of nearby islands and professionals worry that by creating new islands, the sea channels would be narrowed and currents would intensify, thus, waves could become higher and more powerful when strong typhoons hit. It would also affect the quality of water and the living environment of sea creatures. Moreover, reclamation requires tons of sand, imported from mainland China and other places. It would lead to an ecological crisis in these places. Looking back at the history of reclamation, Hong Kong has never tried to reclaim land from the middle of the sea like at East Lantau. This is a kind of building “out of nothing”, using a triumphalist and anthropocentric attitude to build land without caring about the side-effect and undesirable results. Do the government officials even think of the universal destination of the world’s goods and the basic human rights, that is a safe living environment, of the existing residents of the nearby islands who are ordinary people without much power? These are important Catholic principles when we evaluate any policy of development.

Global warming and climate change also matter, as indicated in the social encyclical Laudato Si. According to climatologists, if the earth's temperature rises by 2 to 4 degrees Celsius, the water level may rise by 4.7 to 8.9 meters after 200 years. How high will the East Lantau need to build in order to protect the future of this artificial island for our future generations? If we want to withstand the effects of climate change and seawater rise, it will definitely cost a lot, and there will be considerable risks. This path is impossible to solve the housing problems of Hong Kong people today. This kind of construction, which is hostile to nature, is likely to become a burden for our city in the long run. Is it responsible to use hundreds of billions of resources to destroy the marine ecology and build an artificial construction that may be ravaged by climate change? As Pope Francis put it, “what kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” (LS, #160) The notion of common good also extends to future generation. We can no longer speak of sustainable development apart from intergenerational solidarity (LS, #159). Such irresponsible and unsustainable development behavior would not be agreed to by many people, except to government officials and big construction companies.

The vision of city planning should be based on reality, the needs of people, scientific arguments, rational analysis, and care for the laws of nature through listening to viewpoints of relevant parties, especially experts in relevant fields and people who live in the city. If the Hong Kong government only seeks to increase land with its narrow vision and merely listens to those who support its policy and the business sector, lacking the vision of strategic planning and denying people’s participation in policy-making, Hong Kong is unlikely to become sustainable in the future. In fact, many believe that the force behind this project is the big Hong Kong and Chinese enterprises which have close connection with the Chinese government.   

The “Lantau Tomorrow Vision” project is just one example which demonstrates the governing attitude of the government – refusing to listen to people’s opinions and concerns, and concerning more about the interest of the big business enterprises as well as the Chinese government, due to the unjust political structure of Hong Kong. The recent discussion of the extradition law which allows the government to transfer fugitives to jurisdictions the city does not now have an extradition agreement with, such as mainland China, is an example of this.

Under the existing political structure, our government leaders are not directly elected by all people. They may not feel the need to be accountable to the general public, but only to the 1,200 people appointed by the Beijing government in the small-circle election committee, in which many are from the business sector and big property developers. That is why so many Hong Kong people, especially the younger generation, have tried to strive for democracy and try to affect the policies that are related to ourselves. This can be seen through the social and democratic movements, especially the 2014 Occupy Movement/Umbrella Movement. Unfortunately and sadly, in April 2019, nine Occupy Movement leaders were all found guilty of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance and some were also convicted of one count of inciting others to commit public nuisance and/or inciting others to incite. Four of them were put in jail immediately from 8 to 16 months. But in fact, they just tried to challenge the existing political structure through an action of civil disobedience. Such a result leads to disappointment, frustration and helplessness on the part of many people, knowing there will be no big change in the near future.

In spite of this, Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai said: “No matter what happens, I am confident that many of us will continue to strive for democracy. We will persist and will not give up.” Another co-founder Kin-man Chan said: “I still believe in the power of love and peace.”

 In city planning or other policies, though there is a lack of consultation and authentic listening to the needs of people, we have to insist in expressing our opinions through various means, and never give up.

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