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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
  Argentina

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

September 2016 

 Uganda

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

 Hong Kong

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

 United  Kingdom

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

July 2016

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

 Thomas Massaro and Mary Jo Iozzio

Padova: Ten Years Later and …
       
 

June 2016

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

May 2016

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

April 2016

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

March 2016

 Kenya  Peter Knox  Teaching Environmental Ethics in Africa
   Malaysia  Sharon Bong  ‘Caring for our common home’
   United Kingdom  Julie Clague  Number crunching: Catholics and same-sex unions
   Mexico  Miguel Ángel Sánchez  LA VISITA DEL PAPA FRANCISCO A MÉXICO: UN VIRAJE ALENTADOR PARA LA ÉTICA
   United States  Michael Jaycox  Dangerous Memories, Dangerous Movements: Christian Freedom in the Empire
       

February 2016

 Vietnam  Hoa Dinh  MELBOURNE DOCTORS REFUSING TO RETURN CHILDREN TO DETENTION
   UnitedKingdom  Tina Beattie  Reflections
   Brazil  Alexandre Martins  Zika Virus and Other Mosquito-Borne Virus: The Failure of Modern Healthcare
   Puerto Rico  Jorge José Ferrer  Neurociencia, libre albedrío y teología moral
   United States  Thomas Massaro  On Economic Inequality
       

January 2016

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

December 2015

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

November 2015

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

October 2015

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

September 2015

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

August 2015

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

July 2015

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

June 2015

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

May 2015

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

April 2015

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

March 2015

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

February 2015

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

January 2015

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

December 2014

 Cameroon  Azetsop Jacquineau  THE EBOLA EPIDEMIC IN WEST AFRICA: AN ISSUE OF JUSTICE?
   United Kingdom  Tina Beattie  Synod on the Family
   Mexico  JuttaBatterbergGalindo  Violencia de Género:  Un asunto pendiente en la teología moral
       

November 2014

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

October 2014

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

September 2014

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

June 2014

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

May 2014

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

April 2014

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

March 2014

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

February 2014

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

December 2013

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

November 2013

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

October 2013

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

September 2013

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

August 2013

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

July 2013

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

June 2013

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

May 2013

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

April 2013

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

March 2013

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

January 2013

 Democratic Republic of the Congo  Marie-Rose Ndimbo  As the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO)  Face the Elections in the DRC in 2011. Were There Some Recommendations?
   India  Shaji George Kochuthara  That Delhi Girl!
   Mexico  Sebastián Mier  LA ETICA TEOLÓGICA EN EL CONGRESO CONTINENTAL DE TEOLOGÍA LATINOAMERICANA (available in English and Spanish)
   United States  William Mattison  Boundaries and Protections of Religious Freedom
       

December 2012

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

November 2012

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

October 2012

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

September 2012

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

August 2012

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

July 2012

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

June 2012

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

May 2012

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

March 2012

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

February 2012

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

December 2011

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

November 2011

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

October 2011

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

August 2011

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

July 2011

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

 

Alexandre Martin

Características del liderazgo político necesario para enfrentar la crisis mundial

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Anibal Torres |

“El quehacer político es una forma elevada de caridad, de amor, y por lo tanto, un problema teológico y ético. Se da una paradoja a nivel global: el descrédito de la política y los políticos en el momento en que más los necesitamos. (…) Por eso es importante rehabilitar lo político y la política en su total amplitud” (Cardenal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 2005).

Una de las características del presente, es la crisis de liderazgo para enfrentar la situación mundial de crisis socio-ambiental[1]. En estos días en que la Argentina recibe la visita de mandatarios extranjeros referentes de los principales países y economías del mundo – por ser el país anfitrión de la reunión del G-20[2] – resulta oportuno reflexionar sobre dicha crisis de liderazgo. La Conferencia 2018 de la CTEWC realizada en Sarajevo se hizo eco de esta situación, advirtiendo la necesidad de tender puentes entre saberes y culturas. Tal carencia es un fenómeno epocal relevante, sobre el cual Francisco ha llamado la atención en Laudato si’. Al hablar de “[l]a debilidad de las reacciones”, el Papa señala:

“(…) Nunca hemos maltratado y lastimado nuestra casa común como en los últimos dos siglos. Pero estamos llamados a ser los instrumentos del Padre Dios para que nuestro planeta sea lo que Él soñó al crearlo y responda a su proyecto de paz, belleza y plenitud. El problema es que no disponemos todavía de la cultura necesaria para enfrentar esta crisis y hace falta construir liderazgos que marquen caminos, buscando atender las necesidades de las generaciones actuales incluyendo a todos, sin perjudicar a las generaciones futuras. (…) Llama la atención la debilidad de la reacción política internacional. El sometimiento de la política ante la tecnología y las finanzas se muestra en el fracaso de las Cumbres mundiales sobre medio ambiente”[3].

Más aún, tanto la actual coyuntura que atraviesan muchas democracias, con el auge de líderes de extrema derecha con discursos racistas, xenófobos, revanchistas y discriminatorios de las minorías, como la “deuda social” y “deuda ecológica” que aqueja particularmente a los pueblos del hemisferio sur, demandan nuevos liderazgos. Y esto porque, por un lado, la atención al primer tipo de endeudamiento “exige la realización de la justicia social”, recordando –en la línea agustiniana- que “la justicia es la medida de toda política”[4]. Por otro lado, saldar la deuda ecológica demanda “una nueva ética de las relaciones internacionales”, incluso una “autoridad política mundial”[5].

Ahora bien, a primera vista, puesto que el liderazgo ha venido motivando diferentes estudios, al parecer no habría nada nuevo para decir al respecto. Sin embargo, al enfocar el tema con detenimiento, se puede observar que en general predomina, por un lado,  una mirada relacionada con el mercado. Aquí, desde el management, la administración de empresas y el énfasis en la eficiencia de las organizaciones, se ha venido estudiando el “liderazgo empresarial”, con un sesgo economicista. Por otro lado, también hay un enfoque con relación a la sociedad. Aquí, en un sentido general, para ámbitos como las organizaciones no gubernamentales y los movimientos sociales, se ha venido abordando el “liderazgo social”, a veces presentado equívocamente como destinado a reemplazar a las autoridades estatales o en abierto contrapunto con éstas.  

Por su parte, el liderazgo también ha venido siendo analizado en relación con el funcionamiento de los regímenes democráticos contemporáneos. En este sentido, se ha afirmado que el desempeño de éstos, ante la necesidad de gobernabilidad, no sólo depende de las características del diseño político institucional y del sistema económico, sino también del tipo de liderazgo político. Se trata de una cuestión no menor, ya que tal liderazgo es considerado “un elemento que garantiza el éxito en el desempeño adecuado de la política, la gobernabilidad y la legitimidad del sistema, y en la satisfacción de los conflictos y demandas de los ciudadanos”[6].

Este es un tema que tiene una larga tradición en la teoría política y también forma parte desde hace un tiempo de la agenda de la ciencia política. Desde aquí se ofrece una posible definición <de mínima> que concibe al liderazgo bajo los siguientes elementos: “se trata de un proceso; conlleva influencia; se ejerce dentro de un grupo y tiene una meta”[7]. Pero más allá de estos desarrollos, resulta interesante que en el Papa  Francisco, así como existe un interés por la reflexión sobre la política y lo político, en general, se tienen –según se interpreta- importantes aportes para la teoría y el ejercicio del liderazgo político, en particular, más allá de que no abunden las referencias explícitas a este tópico o no lo aborde exclusivamente. Más aún, es posible sostener que este tema, relacionado con el campo de la ética social, constituye uno de los temas sobre los cuales el Papa Bergoglio ha venido reflexionando desde antes de comenzar el ministerio petrino.

Ahora bien, junto con enfatizar la relación de los líderes políticos con la necesidad de saldar la deuda social y la deuda ecológica, y de proveer gobernabilidad sin caer en “consensos de escritorio” o en “una efímera paz para una minoría feliz”[8], ¿cuáles son los aspectos centrales de la reflexión de Francisco respecto al liderazgo político? La respuesta que se brinda aquí a este interrogante se organiza en tres pasos: primero, se dan algunas pautas sobre el recorrido hacia lo que se puede considerar como la “teoría bergogliana del liderazgo político”. Luego, se focaliza en la noción de liderazgo que tiene Francisco, reparando en la relevancia del discernimiento, la magnanimidad y los cuatros principios enmarcados en las tensiones bipolares. Por último, se hacen unos señalamientos a modo de cierre.   

1. Itinerario hacia una “teoría bergogliana del liderazgo político”: tal vez, la historia.

De manera un tanto similar al lejano siglo V d. C., en las últimas décadas parece volver a cobrar auge, de manera más o menos sutil, de la mano del secularismo[9], la opinión según la cual los males de las sociedades se deben, al menos en parte, a los cristianos y su Uno y Trino. Lector de La Ciudad de Dios, Bergoglio –partiendo de sus reflexiones sobre el recorrido pendular de su propio país-, desde el pontificado llegaría a formular una respuesta, apuntando hacia la raíz de la crisis de las instituciones representativas: “Hay políticos —e incluso dirigentes religiosos— que se preguntan por qué el pueblo no los comprende y no los sigue, si sus propuestas son tan lógicas y claras. Posiblemente sea porque se instalaron en el reino de la pura idea y redujeron la política o la fe a la retórica. Otros olvidaron la sencillez e importaron desde fuera una racionalidad ajena a la gente”[10].

No es casual que un planteo así se encuentre en sintonía con la exhortación que realizara años antes sobre la necesidad de reenfocar el liderazgo político: “El liderazgo centrado en el servicio es la respuesta a la incertidumbre de un país dañado por los privilegios, por los que utilizan el poder en su provecho, por quienes exigen sacrificios incalculables mientras evaden responsabilidad social y lavan las riquezas que el esfuerzo de todos producen”[11].

Como el Obispo de Hipona, el jesuita argentino percibiría, por un lado, que en definitiva es Dios quien conduce los procesos. De ahí que no corresponda identificar toda la historia con un momento de crisis, con una forma cultural particular o con el imperio de turno y sus intentos de paz augusta. Por otro lado, advertiría la ambigüedad de toda realidad humana, de la historia, y valoraría, pese a las adversidades, el presente como tiempo de gracia. Como Tomás Moro, modelo de políticos y gobernantes, Bergoglio enseñaría públicamente sobre la gran obra agustiniana: 

“(…) podemos volver a leer La Ciudad de Dios (…) Al mostrar las semillas de corrupción en la Roma imperial, [San Agustín] estaba rompiendo toda identificación entre Reino de Cristo y reino de este mundo. Y al presentar la Ciudad de Dios como una realidad presente en la historia, pero de un modo entremezclado con la Ciudad terrena y sólo ‘separable’ en el Juicio final, daba lugar a la posibilidad de otra historia posible, vivida y construida desde otros valores y otros ideales. Si en la ‘teología oficial’ la historia era el lugar exclusivo y excluyente del poder autorreferenciado, en La Ciudad de Dios se constituye [un] espacio para una libertad que acoge el don de la salvación y el proyecto divino de una humanidad y un mundo trasfigurados. Proyecto que será consumado en la escatología, es cierto, pero que ya en la historia puede ir gestando nuevas realidades, derribando falsos determinismos, abriendo una y otra vez el horizonte de la esperanza y de la creatividad a partir de un ‘plus’ de sentido, de una promesa que siempre está invitando a seguir adelante”[12].

No se debe pasar por alto que el Papa se formó en una orden religiosa que, entre otras cosas, ganó celebridad por una peculiar forma de interpelar a quienes están inmersos en los “asuntos de gobierno”[13], enfatizando la necesidad de formar rectamente sus conciencias, incluso a partir de la crítica. Los seguidores de San Ignacio de Loyola se destacarían en la confesión de los gobernantes[14] y tendrían una postura clara ante algunos tópicos sobre las cuales discreparían profundamente con la tradición maquiaveliana: la cuestión de la razón de Estado, de si conviene ser amado o ser temido por el pueblo y la llamada “doctrina de la imitación”[15].

Los jesuitas, según las enseñanzas y ejemplos del fundador, tendrán una visión distinta sobre lo sostenido por Maquiavelo, por ejemplo, en el Capítulo XVII de El Príncipe, abogando más bien por la confianza mutua y la sana afectividad entre mandantes y mandados. También, de acuerdo a los Ejercicios Espirituales, entenderán que por encima del Estado y sus autoridades, hay un sólo “Rey” digno de “seguir e imitar más”, de “imitarle y servirle más”, de ser su compañero y tratarlo “como un amigo”[16]: Jesucristo, el Señor.

Tal visión tiene implicancias sobre la forma de concebir el liderazgo y su ejercicio, y - pese a lo que se pudiese pensar-, no ha quedado olvidada. Más aún, en épocas recientes se ha dado un interés sobre las implicancias de la experiencia y tradición jesuita para el liderazgo, en sentido amplio. Así, se han destacado los siguientes principios del carisma de Loyola, custodiado e interpretado dinámicamente por su Compañía, para el liderazgo organizacional, en un grupo:

a) “todos somos líderes y dirigimos todo el tiempo”, b) “el liderazgo nace desde adentro. Determina quién soy yo, así como qué hago”, c) “el liderazgo no es acto, es una manera de vivir”, d) “hacerse líder es un proceso continuo de desarrollo”. Sobre estas cuatro características del liderazgo de matriz jesuita, se ha afirmado que “tienen sus raíces en la idea [ya mencionada] de que todos somos líderes y que toda nuestra vida está llena de liderazgo. El liderazgo no está reservado para unos pocos mandamases de grandes compañías ni tampoco se limitan las oportunidades de liderazgo al escenario de trabajo”[17].  Así, puede advertirse el choque frontal de tal perspectiva con la tradición que se remonta a Maquiavelo.

Se puede afirmar que la reflexión del liderazgo político en Bergoglio se fue gestando desde sus años de Provincial jesuita, sobre todo con una marcada preocupación por esclarecer las características necesarias para el gobierno al interior de la Compañía. Luego, el interés bergogliano por el tema tendría nuevos desarrollos en su etapa de Arzobispo de Buenos Aires y Primado de la Argentina, con reflexiones que buscaban interpelar a las conciencias de los dirigentes, en general, y de los gobernantes, en particular. El jesuita argentino fue formando su concepción del liderazgo desde la praxis y la reflexión, dialogando con los tópicos de cada época e interpretando los signos de los tiempos.

Esto suponía, por un lado, tener presente las orientaciones que fue adoptando el magisterio de la Iglesia. El Concilio Vaticano II, que se refirió a la política como “arte tan difícil y tan noble”, tuvo un expreso mensaje dedicado a los gobernantes y las instituciones representativas[18], y la Conferencia General del Episcopado Latinoamericano reunida en Medellín se propuso, en vinculación con el logro de la justicia, “la reforma política”, apuntando particularmente a los “hombres clave” que tienen posiciones de decisión[19], que son líderes. 

Por el orto lado, Bergoglio tendría presente, además, la historia y la cultura de su pueblo. En este sentido, puede advertirse que él se acercó al liderazgo desde términos que aluden a una direccionalidad, a un poner en movimiento al grupo, empleando palabras como “conducir”, “conducción”[20], términos centrales en la reflexión de Juan Domingo Perón sobre la “conducción política”. Más aún, se ha sugerido también una posible participación indirecta del jesuita en la elaboración del documento conocido como Modelo Argentino para el Proyecto Nacional[21], cuya presentación parcial hiciera el presidente Perón al hablar ante el Parlamento argentino en 1974, abogando por la unidad nacional y la superación de las antinomias del pasado.

También, se ha deslizado cierta influencia que la conocida como “Carta de la Hacienda de Figueroa” (1834) habría ejercido sobre el pensamiento bergogliano. Al parecer, los consejos del bonaerense Juan Manuel de Rosas al riojano Facundo Quiroga sobre la organización institucional de la Argentina en el siglo XIX, llegarían a ser desarrollados y explicitados en los “cuatro principios” para la convivencia pacífica de un pueblo[22]. Éstos fueron presentados por Bergoglio ante un presidente de su país en el Te Deum del 25 de mayo de 1999, en un mensaje crítico de las políticas neoliberales[23].

A partir de la severa crisis que padeció Argentina en 2001-2002, el Cardenal enfatizará la  necesidad de la “cultura del encuentro”. Esto supondría que –entre otras cosas- el “ejercicio de la autoridad”, entendida como “conducción”, se pusiera “totalmente al servicio” de los demás, asumiendo que “el poder es servicio” y que “sólo tiene sentido si está al servicio del bien común”, dado que la refundación del vínculo social pos crisis se daría en clave servicial[24].

En ese contexto, Bergoglio referiría a la política como “obra colectiva permanente” que se debía “redescubrir” o “re-jerarquizar”, revalorizando la razón de ser de los partidos políticos. Si éstos “son instrumentos para impulsar ideas, cosmovisiones diferentes”, el problema surge cuando eso “se confunde, los instrumentos se declaran independientes y se pasa del partido político a la partidocracia y se pierde la dimensión de trascendencia a los otros, de servicio a la comunidad. Esto es lo que origina el internismo”.

En sintonía con estos señalamientos, el Cardenal apuntaba también contra “la enfermedad del eticismo”, en tanto una de las trabas más relevantes “para el proceso político”. Para Bergoglio, tal “moralina” –en vez de la moral- constituiría una patología presente en la política, particularmente en el ejercicio del gobierno, expresada en “la primacía de la formalidad sobre la realidad”, siendo un ejemplo “la fascinación por los organigramas”, por el funcionalismo. Observaría que una política eticista, en el sentido expuesto, se basa en la “personalidad”, aunque “no responde a la persona”, se sustenta en “valores sin raíces”, cayendo en un “fraude ontológico (…), es el fraude a la alegría de ser para vivir la tristeza del no ser[25].

Así, no parece casual que en esa época el Arzobispo profundizara sus reflexiones de comienzos de los años 90’ sobre la corrupción, recuperando para ello un análisis tanto sobre los funcionarios que adhirieron al poder “a cualquier precio”, como los “grupos corruptos” en tiempos de Jesús, a los efectos de “ejemplificar el caso de la corrupción en las elites” contemporáneas. Así, Bergoglio no sólo advertiría que es propio de la actitud corrupta el cansancio de “pedir perdón” -que en definitiva muestra un “cansancio de trascendencia”-, sino también dos rasgos característicos de esos grupos: por un lado, “todos han elaborado una doctrina que justifica su corrupción o la cubre”, por el otro lado, sus miembros “son los más alejados, cuando no enemigos, de los pecadores y del pueblo”[26].

2. El liderazgo político popular: servicio al bien común

Es en el texto Nosotros como ciudadanos, nosotros como pueblo (2011) donde es posible advertir cierta presencia de los rasgos ya mencionados y es allí donde Bergoglio brindó una definición de liderazgo. Esta conceptualización reúne la advertencia sobre el peligro de aferrarse a una noción inmanente del mismo, con el señalamiento de la proximidad concreta entre los líderes y el pueblo (en términos cercanos al planteo sobre el “poder obediencial”[27]), considerando tanto la representación como la expresión de los representados, la legitimidad de origen de los líderes como la legitimidad de ejercicio. En definitiva, presentaba una noción de líderes populares:

“El liderazgo es un arte… que se puede aprender. Es también una ciencia…que se puede estudiar. Es un trabajo… exige dedicación, esfuerzo y tenacidad. Pero es ante todo un misterio…no siempre puede ser explicado desde la racionalidad lógica (…) El verdadero liderazgo y la fuente de su autoridad es una experiencia fuertemente existencial. Todo líder, para llegar a ser un verdadero dirigente, ha de ser ante todo un testigo. Es la ejemplaridad de la vida personal y el testimonio de la coherencia existencial. Es la representación, la aptitud de ir progresivamente interpretando al pueblo, desde el llano, y la estrategia de asumir el desafío de su representación, de expresar sus anhelos, sus dolores, su vitalidad, su identidad”[28].

Preocupado por la “democracia de baja intensidad” que desatiende a los excluidos, con dirigentes proclives al “coyunturalismo” o “cortoplacismo”, incluso con la “emergencia de liderazgos efímeros producidos por una campaña publicitaria o por la complicidad mediática”, Bergoglio pedirá a la dirigencia “favorecer escenarios que contribuyan al desenvolvimiento de una democracia participativa y cada vez más social”. De ahí que el Cardenal jesuita apuntara la necesidad de “hacerse pueblo”, abogando por “nuevos estilos de liderazgo centrados en el servicio al prójimo y al bien común”[29]. La pertinencia de recuperar estos señalamientos de Bergoglio está dada a partir de que si bien originalmente fueron planteados de cara a la situación de su país, pueden encontrarse  -por lo menos algunos de ellos- en el magisterio de Francisco[30].

Además de esa definición, cabe señalar otros aspectos relevantes en la reflexión del Papa que pueden ponerse en relación con el liderazgo político. En primer lugar, sobresalen el discernimiento y la magnanimidad. En segundo lugar, los principios para el “bien común y la paz social”[31]. Pero antes de avanzar, cabe mencionar que también el liderazgo tiene su Principio y Fundamento.

En este sentido, cabe referir que Bergoglio instaba a “recordar nuestros principios: el principio en Dios (…), el principio de mi vocación”. Y a partir de reconocer estos comienzos, se podría advertir que “el Señor, al darnos una misión, nos funda[32]. Ahora bien, ¿qué implicancias tiene esto para el liderazgo político? Para quien detenta una posición de ese tipo, desde el examen anterior se le podría decir: “¡No olvides que el servicio al bien común te llevó a involucrarte por primera vez en política! ¡No dejes de ser fiel a tu misión!”.

 Líderes que ejerciten el discernimiento y la magnanimidad

A poco de iniciar el pontificado, Francisco reparó en el conocido epitafio simbólico dedicado a San Ignacio “Non coerceri maximo, contineri tamen a minimo, divinum est”, y señaló haber “reflexionado largamente sobre esta frase, por lo que toca al gobierno, a ser superior: no tener límite para lo grande pero concentrarse en lo pequeño. Esta virtud de lo grande y lo pequeño se llama magnanimidad”[33].

En el planteo de Bergoglio, “conducir en lo grande y en lo pequeño” también puede asociarse con discernir sobre lo fuerte y lo débil, debiendo a veces “poner límites” y “esperar”. El jesuita apuntaba tres criterios que marcan la relación del “conductor” con el cuerpo o la institución que lidera, aspectos que en política pueden vincularse con la relación del líder respecto a los ciudadanos y la burocracia estatal, según los niveles del análisis weberiano: a) el “cuidado por la edificación en los prójimos”, b) ser “factor de unidad”, y c) tener “humildad”, sobre todo “en las persecuciones y dificultades”[34].

Respecto específicamente al discernimiento, cabe enfatizar que compete al “orden ético personal, pero también ético-político”[35]. De ahí que la tradición jesuita tenga una relevancia especial para al liderazgo político, ámbito del trazado de diagnósticos y de la planificación de cursos de acción para concretar, por ejemplo, la decisión estatal. En este sentido, el discernimiento ignaciano, al inscribirse en la “<hermenéutica de la sospecha> (Paul Ricoeur)”, entra en diálogo con otras tradiciones de pensamiento con implicancias políticas, contribuyendo a advertir las desviaciones en el ejercicio del liderazgo, detectando elecciones erradas que “hace del fin, medio, y del medio, fin”[36], ayudando a advertir “eventuales ilusiones ideológicas debidas al <propio amor, querer e interés> (Ignacio de Loyola), por ejemplo, debidas al amor propio narcisista (Freud), a la voluntad de poder (Nietzsche) o al interés de clase (Marx), que dificultan o impiden un discernimiento histórico recto”. Así, el discernimiento permite poner en evidencia que muchas veces el “el mal se enmascara (tanto existencial como socialmente) sub angelo lucis (bajo apariencia de <ángel de luz>”[37].

Es pertinente referir que el propio Bergoglio ha desarrollado una enseñanza sobre el discernimiento, advirtiendo que así como es propio del “mal espíritu” incitar a la división, no se debe perder de vista que se discierne “desde la fundamental adhesión al Señor”. Para el jesuita, ante la ambigüedad de la vida, el discernimiento consiste en “un instrumento de lucha”, y ésta “se da en mí, se da en los pueblos, se dio a lo largo de toda la historia”[38]. En efecto, el discernimiento es clave para la política y el liderazgo en ella, dado que además de tener una dimensión arquitectónica, posee un carácter agonal.    

Estos señalamientos están en consonancia con las meditaciones que en los Ejercicios… Ignacio propone para la segunda semana, particularmente en la célebre “dos banderas”[39], donde –según puede observarse- se enfatiza un antagonismo de tipo teológico-político, enfrentando dos polos simbólicos: Babilonia y Jerusalén. Puesto que se discierne desde el amor y la memoria, será importante que todo líder político se descubra, ante todo, como un ser relacional, que incluso depende de los demás. Desde aquí podrá discernir desde el amor social (opuesto al amor propio) y la memoria agradecida (opuesto a la memoria derrotista o triunfalista). De manera que –guiado no por las “razones aparentes, sutilezas y continuos engaños”[40], sino por “el juicio recto de la razón”[41]-, quien lidera un proceso pueda optar por el paradigma de la ecología integral, en vez del paradigma tecnocrático, por la cultura del cuidado, en vez de la cultura del descarte, por la cultura de vida, en vez de la cultura de muerte[42]; optar –en definitiva- por el Dios vivo, revelado en la historia, y no por los ídolos, que son puro presente.

Líderes guiados por principios para el bien común y la paz social de y entre los pueblos

Otros aspectos que resultan relevantes y pertinentes para el liderazgo político a la luz de la enseñanza de Francisco, son los cuatro principios –enmarcados a su vez en las tensiones bipolares- que si bien ya formaban parte de su reflexión, fueron presentados al mundo e incorporados al magisterio universal en Evangelii gaudium[43].  En palabras del Papa: “Para avanzar en esta construcción de un pueblo en paz, justicia y fraternidad, hay cuatro principios relacionados con tensiones bipolares propias de toda realidad social. (…) [Estos] orientan específicamente el desarrollo de la convivencia social y la construcción de un pueblo donde las diferencias se armonicen en un proyecto común. [Los ofrezco] con la convicción de que su aplicación puede ser un genuino camino hacia la paz dentro de cada nación y en el mundo entero”[44].

Si bien Francisco extrae de los “principios” orientaciones tanto para la Iglesia como para la acción política, aquí se repara en esto último, focalizando en la cuestión del liderazgo político, implícitamente aludido en el texto. Es factible asumir que tanto los ciudadanos como los líderes se encuentran inmersos en las tensiones y pueden aplicar los principios para guiar sus acciones. Sin embargo, dada la posición representativa que detentan los dirigentes, tanto el horizonte de actuación como el nivel de responsabilidad que poseen es, evidentemente, más amplio, se les exige más. Seguidamente se exponen sucintamente las tres tensiones y los cuatro principios.

En la tensión “entre plenitud y límite” (entendiendo “plenitud” como “utopía”), se inscriben, por un lado, el principio que afirma que “el tiempo es superior al espacio”. La relevancia de esto para el ejercicio del liderazgo radica en que, desde una mirada centrada en el servicio, lo importante no es “privilegiar los espacios de poder”, sino “los tiempos de los procesos”, apuntando a que éstos “construyan pueblo”, antes que atender a la obtención de “resultados inmediatos que producen un rédito político fácil, rápido y efímero”[45]

Por el otro lado, vinculado con dicha tensión también está el principio de “la unidad prevalece sobre el conflicto”. Según esto, estando los líderes expuestos a diversas problemáticas de la vida pública, más aún, enfrentados a severos antagonismos, se espera que ni queden prisioneros de los mismos ni los ignoren. Más bien, deben “aceptar sufrir el conflicto, resolverlo y transformarlo en eslabón de un nuevo proceso”[46]. En términos ignacianos, este principio apunta a la unión de los ánimos, la búsqueda de un espíritu de colaboración entre quienes son distintos.  

Otra tensión bipolar es la que tiene lugar “entre idea y realidad”, dentro de la cual se inscribe el principio que sostiene que “la realidad es más que la idea”. En términos políticos, la relevancia de esto reside en poner en evidencia que el liderazgo político debe recuperar el empleo de la persuasión para comunicarse con la ciudadanía, en vez de reducir todo a espectáculo. De manera que se deben “evitar diversas formas de ocultar la realidad: los purismos angélicos, los totalitarismos de lo relativo, los nominalismos declaracionistas, los proyectos más formales que reales, los fundamentalismos a-históricos, los eticismos sin bondad, los intelecualismos sin sabiduría”[47].   

Por último, una tercera tensión se presenta “entre globalización y localización”. Aquí el principio es “el todo es superior a la parte”. El significado que esto tiene para los líderes políticos se caracteriza por el proyecto de país que tienen, si se orienta al bien común o se desgrana en intereses particulares. En el plano de la política internacional, el principio quiere evidenciar la importancia del modelo del “poliedro” que une en la riqueza de la diversidad, en vez de la “esfera” que une en la pobreza de la uniformidad. De manera que un liderazgo político que asuma la visión poliédrica para su país y para el mundo, supone integrar “lo mejor de cada uno. Allí entran los pobres con su cultura, sus proyectos, y sus propias potencialidades. Aún las personas que pueden ser cuestionadas por sus errores tienen algo que aportar”[48].

En relación con tal propuesta de Francisco, se espera que los líderes administren esas tensiones a partir de dichos principios, promoviendo “una cultura del encuentro en una pluriforme armonía”[49], cimentada no en el amor propio que excluye a los otros, sino en el amor social que los incluye y los considera protagonistas. De ahí que –en definitiva- el Papa, sin desconocer la existencia de las elites, no propone una noción elitista de liderazgo, puesto que la política no puede desconocer el principio de subsidiariedad, “que otorga libertad para el desarrollo de las capacidades presentes en todos los niveles, pero al mismo tiempo exige más responsabilidad por el bien común a quien tiene más poder”[50]. Este modo de gobernar conjuga también la atención a la realidad de cada contexto particular sin dejar de comprometerse con los desafíos que se presentan a la “casa común”[51]

3. Palabras finales (y fundantes)

En el comienzo de Los Miserables, Víctor Hugo presenta los encuentros fundantes de quienes cruzaron miradas y palabras decisivas con el justo obispo Bienvenu Myriel, quien no sólo interpelaría la conciencia del pobre Jean Valjean, sino también la del poderoso Napoleón: “¿Quién es ese buen hombre que me mira?”, preguntó el emperador. “Majestad -dijo el señor Myriel-, vos miráis a un buen hombre y yo miro a un gran hombre. Cada uno de nosotros puede beneficiarse de lo que mira”.

Para toda víctima de la cultura del descarte y de la idolatría del poder, el Obispo de Roma tiene una mirada atenta y un llamado[52], que es siempre antiguo y siempre nuevo, asumiendo que “donde abundó el pecado, sobreabundó la gracia” (Rom. 5, 20). Se trata de un llamado a reformar la vida personal y social, las instituciones políticas y el ejercicio del liderazgo político, para un mundo sediento de paz, justicia y participación popular. Es una invitación a “dejarnos fundar nuevamente”, que –en palabras del Dante- es “la verdad del cimiento”[53]. Ese llamado esperanzador es el programa reformador de Francisco: miserando atque eligendo!



[1] Francisco, Encíclica Laudato si’ (2015), 139. En adelante, LS.

[2] El Grupo de los 20 (G-20) es un foro cuyos miembros permanentes son 19 países de todos los continentes (Alemania, Arabia Saudita, Argentina, Australia, Brasil, Canadá, China, Corea del Sur, Estados Unidos, Francia, India, Indonesia, Italia, Japón, México, Reino Unido, Rusia, Sudáfrica y Turquía) a los cuales se suma una representación adicional por la Unión Europea y un país invitado: España.​ Es un espacio de deliberación política y económica mundial, cuyos países reúnen el 66% de la población del planeta y el 85% del producto bruto global.

[3] LS 53 y 54

[4] Bergoglio, Jorge: “La Deuda Social según la Doctrina Social de la Iglesia”, Conferencia inaugural en el Seminario Internacional “Las Deudas sociales de nuestro tiempo”, 30/09/2009, http://www.arzbaires.org.ar/inicio/homiliasbergoglio.html

[5] LS 51; 175.

[6] Fernández de Mantilla, 2007: 173, en Rivas Otero, José (2012): “Liderazgo político y gobernabilidad en América Latina: una aproximación teórica y metodológica”, en Actas del Congreso Internacional “América Latina: La autonomía de una región”, CEEIB-UCM, Madrid, 29 y 30 de noviembre.

[7] Rivas Otero, op. cit., p.315.

[8] Francisco, Exhortación Evangelii gaudium (2013), 218. En adelante, EG

[9] EG, 64-65.

[10] EG, 232.

[11] Bergoglio, Jorge M. (2011): Nosotros como ciudadanos, nosotros como pueblo. Hacia un Bicentenario en justicia y solidaridad 2010-2016. Buenos Aires: Ed. Claretiana, p. 86.

[12] Bergoglio, Jorge M.: “Educar es elegir la vida”, 9/04/2003, http://www.arzbaires.org.ar/inicio/homiliasbergoglio.html

[13] Ejercicios Espirituales, 19. En adelante, EE.

[14] Lacouture, Jean (1993): Jesuitas. I. Los Conquistadores. Barcelona: Paidós.

[15] Butterfield, Herbert (1965): Maquiavelo y el arte de gobernar. Buenos Aires: Ed. Huemul

[16] EE, 54, 91, 109, 168.

[17] Chris Lowney (2004): El liderazgo al estilo de los jesuitas. Bogotá: Grupo Ed. Norma, pp. 7;18-23.

[18] Vaticano II, Constitución pastoral Gaudium et Spes, Cap. IV, nº 75; Vaticano II, Del Concilio a la Humanidad.

[19] II Conferencia General del Episcopado Latinoamericano (Medellín, 1968): Capítulo “Justicia”, 16 y 19. https://www.ensayistas.org/critica/liberacion/medellin/medellin3.htm

[20] Bergoglio, Jorge M. – Papa Francisco  (2014) [1982]: Meditaciones para religiosos. Bilbao: Ed. Mensajero, pp. 100, 105, 107.

[21] Peiró, Claudia, “Es un orgullo que Bergoglio, el líder más importante del mundo de hoy, sea argentino” (entrevista a Armando Puente), en InfoBAE, 8/05/2015; Puente, Armando (2015): Yo, argentino. Las raíces argentinas del Papa Francisco. Buenos Aires: Distal

[22] Scannone, Juan C. (2015): “Cuatro principios para la construcción de un pueblo según el Papa Francisco, en  Stromata, Vol. 71, Nº 1, pp. 13-27

[23] Bergoglio, Jorge M.: Homilía en el Te Deum patrio, 25/05/1999, http://www.arzbaires.org.ar/inicio/homiliasbergoglio.html

[24] Bergoglio, Jorge M. (2013) [2005 a]: La nación por construir. Utopía, pensamiento y compromiso. Buenos Aires: Ed. Claretiana, pp. 45; 71.

[25] Op. cit., pp. 67-70, cursivas en el original.

[26] Bergoglio, Jorge M. (2005 b): Corrupción y pecado. Algunas reflexiones en torno al tema de la corrupción. Buenos Aires: Ed. Claretiana, pp. 18; 33-34, cursivas en el original.

[27] Dussel, Enrique (2012): Para una política de la liberación. Buenos Aires: Ed. Las cuarenta/Gorla.

[28] Bergoglio, J.M. Nosotros como ciudadanos…, p. 86.

[29] Op. cit., pp. 25-26; 32; 46; 85.

[30] Cfr. EG, EG 205; LS, 176-198.

[31] EG, 217.

[32] Bergoglio, Meditaciones…, pp. 124 y 126, cursiva en el original.

[33] Francisco, entrevista de Antonio Spadaro para La Civiltá Cattolica, 19/08/2013; Cfr. Gaudate et exsultate, 169.

[34] Bergoglio, J.M., Meditaciones…,p. 107-109.

[35] Scannone, Juan C. (2009): Discernimiento filosófico de la acción y pasión históricas. Planteo para el mundo global desde América Latina. Barcelona: Anthropos, 47.

[36] EE, 169.

[37] Op. cit., 47-48; Cfr. EE, 332.

[38] Bergoglio, J.M., Meditaciones…,161; 163 y 166.

[39] EE, 136 y sig.

[40] EE, 239

[41] EE, 314.

[42] LS,

[43] EG, 221-237.

[44] EG, 221.

[45] EG, 223-224.

[46] EG, 227.

[47] EG, 231.

[48] EG, 236.

[49] EG, 220.

[50] LS, 196.

[51] EG 183; Cfr. LS 1.

[52] En LS dirá “mi llamado”, 13.

[53] Bergoglio, J.M., Meditaciones…, p. 126 y 130.

The Disturbing Stance of Aung San Suu Kyi

1 Comment(s) | Posted | by Peter Pojol |

In August this year, a United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar released its report on the treatment of the Rohingya people by the military of Myanmar since 2011 that has led to a mass exodus of over 700,000 Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh. After an extensive investigation, it concluded that there is clear evidence of crimes such as “murder, rape, torture, sexual slavery, persecution and enslavement.” These were committed systematically and brutally on such a large scale that “criminal investigation and prosecution is warranted…under the categories of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.”[1] In response to this report, the UN Security Council unanimously condemned the violence committed against the Rohingya people.

While the report holds the military leadership of Myanmar responsible for the crimes, public outrage outside Myanmar has been directed to not only the military but also the popular civilian leader of Myanmar, Aug San Suu Kyi. As the champion of democracy under the brutal decades of military dictatorship in Myanmar, Suu Kyi endured around fifteen years of house arrest. For her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. She won the hearts of the people in Myanmar and around the world. Since then, she has gained prominence and power in Myanmar. Her political party won a landslide victory in the 2015 elections. Prevented from being President, she is now the State Counsellor of Myanmar which observers say is similar to a Prime Minister. She is often referred to as the “de facto leader of Myanmar.”

Because of her place in the government of Myanmar and her stature in the international arena, Suu Kyi was expected to use her influence to curb the violence by the military or, failing that, to distance herself from the violence by denouncing it or at least by mounting a silent protest. To the disappointment of outsiders, she has defended the military and in fact called the reports of violence “an iceberg of misinformation” even as she expressed sympathy for the Rohingya in their suffering. For her failure to stand up for them, she has been stripped of at least seven honors, including an honorary Canadian citizenship and some Freedom of the City awards (Oxford, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle).

Meanwhile, Suu Kyi continues to be highly regarded by people in Myanmar who may denounce the violence against the Rohingya but who defend her by noting how little power she has over the military. This raises some questions. On one hand, presuming she has little power, something many outsiders regret is true, how should she exercise it? Is it fair to expect her to give up that little power for effecting change within Myanmar, however small, by opposing the military and returning to house arrest? Setting aside its value for saving her own reputation, how much can such opposition add to the international pressure on the Myanmar military to stop the violence? On the other hand, did she have to go so far as to defend the military instead of keeping silent? Does she honestly support their violent approach or their goal? It seems too simplistic whether to expect her to denounce the military or to exonerate her defense of the military.

Christmas: A Reminder to Include and be in Communion with the Other and Another-Other

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

“Inclusion and Communion” was the theme of the 2nd Asia Deaf Catholic Conference (ADCC) attended by nearly 150 Deaf last November, held in Tagaytay, Philippines. True to their theme, the Deaf welcomes even the non-Deaf to the gathering, where yours truly was one of them. The person who propelled this gathering was Frs. Cyril Axelrod, CSsR and Park Min-Seo, a Korean Deaf diocesan priest. Their 1st conference was in Thailand held in November 2015. The main thrust of this gathering of Asian Deaf Catholics is to build a strong camaraderie and to express Deaf spirituality in a very diverse region. Many Deaf now gradually advocate and acknowledge deafness as gain and human diversity. Some of the topics seem to gear to this new consciousness, such as, “Is Jesus Deaf?”, Inclusive Liturgy for the Deaf, and Deaf Hermeneutics.[1] Deaf hermeneutics presents their culture in a manner that respects their way of expression, thoughts and feelings. Their hermeneutics are kinetic, visual and way of seeing the scripture stories is surprisingly simple, concrete, and diverse. Interestingly, Deaf hermeneutics are reflexive and grounded in everyday concrete reality.

In our world where we are caught up with different and at times superficial concerns, we tend to overlook the essentials – relationships and people. In the process, we hardly recognize the face of authenticity, inside and outside. Thereby, many are excluded and are “ex-communicated” because they are different or quite odd as per society’s standards. Our Catholic Social Tradition is explicit to the call for participation, which sort of implying the attitude of inclusivity. Though the language barrier (Deaf or hearing) may be seen as a challenge, yet this is not an excuse to exclude others in our conversations. The Deaf, though a minority is rich in experience, especially a life of in-betweenity,[2] where they live in a world of the mainstream non-Deaf, and yet can be a trans-traveler who communicates with people whose culture is a different from theirs. Their gestural and pictorial language is a universal expression that the non-Deaf can comprehend; such in-betweenity makes them “citizens of the world”[3]– cosmopolitan. Hence, it matters that we provide space for them to be actively involved in our community, in Church life.

We surely agree that catholicity is marked by universality, tasked to be all-embracing and see the divine in each one. However, many of us seem to miss-out some people due to our thinking that they are insignificant. Perhaps, being absorbed with our agenda, with our own “tasks” makes it inconvenient for us to stop and adjust for those we consider different, such as the Deaf or persons with disabilities (disabilities be it seen and unseen). This consequently excludes them in the life of the Church. The community is a commonplace and space where we explore and experience our shared humanity.

In this season of advent, the Lord showed us around the manger the meaning of inclusion, of welcoming all in his humble family. In that one simple and silent night, they were in communion with Others and those another-other. Through our Lord’s example, there is no reason for us to limit our circle of community; it. Our task as a Church is to share the space with the people who seem different, such as the Deaf and with disabilities. Their life experiences, their stories, their presence is grace enough for us to realize and be more mindful of human diversity. Let us remember that their present reality is our future possibility.

Through those who experienced exclusion and alienation, may we learn the authentic inclusion and communion, exemplified during that silent night around the manger.

A blissful and blessed Christmas to everyone!



[1] Those people who discussed these were Fr. Park Min-Seo, Michael “Auch” Autencio and yours truly, respectively.

[2] Brenda Jo Brueggemann, Lend Me Your Ears: Rhetorical Constructions of Deafness (Washington D.C.: Gallaudet University Press, 1999).

[3] H-Dirksen Bauman and Joseph Murray, Deaf Gain: Raising the Stakes for Human Diversity (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014).

Open Wide Our Hearts

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

At its meeting in November, the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a pastoral letter against racism, Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love. The document was overwhelmingly approved, though not unanimously by the Bishops.  America magazine has reported that among the debated issues were the inclusion of statements about the confederate flag and police shootings of unarmed African Americans. Open Wide Our Hearts acknowledges both willful and unconscious racial bias, the rise in hate speech and hate crimes, that impact African Americans as well as Hispanics, Native Americans, Muslims, Jews, migrants and refugees. They also condemn widespread complicity in the persistence of the sin of racism.  The bishops explicitly name the fight against racism as a “life” issue. The letter calls for a change of heart, rejecting the evil of denying a sister’s or a brother’s humanity, and the transformation of social structures and institutions by modeling the oft-quoted passage “to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Mi 6:8).

The bishops acknowledge the role that the Church has played in racism and the practices of slavery and segregation. In no uncertain terms, they admit: “The truth is that the sons and daughters of the Catholic Church have been complicit in the evil of racism.”  More of this story must be told. It must be told in parishes and schools.  White privilege must likewise be named, its assumptions challenged, and its practices “dismantled.” The bishops stop short of this (self) critique. Missing too is an explicit recognition of intersectionality with respect to race, class, gender, and other identities. Addressing racism is urgent and will necessarily lead Christians to similarly challenge other related sins including sexism.

Opening hearts wide demands also open wide neighborhoods, schools, houses of worship, homes, work places, hospitals and clinics, borders, voting booths, and government halls. Such an opening means also to listen and hear those who bring the weight of fear, trauma, grief, and righteous anger. The witness of remarkable people whom the bishops name --Sister Thea Bowman, Daniel Rudd, Lena Edwards, and Thomas Wyatt Turner—should indeed be shared but not used to gloss over or mitigate the sins and horrors of the past. Such listening means opening wide to struggle, hope, and beauty. And such hearing means opening wide to solidarity and sacrifice.

In this recall, the bishops assume that the hearts of those whose bodies and spirits have been scarred by slavery, Jim Crow, racism, and discrimination in all its forms are also opened wide enough to find space of forgiveness for the past and present complicity of the millions of US Catholics against them. It seems too much to ask. Further, if the Catholic Church, the Body of Christ, the People of God is present within those who suffer the indignities of racism, then the bishops may have their focus backwards, or better, inside-out. The Body of Christ from Calvary to today has been and is enslaved, incarcerated, lynched, sword and bullet-ridden, raped, dismembered, and forgotten. Will the complicit have the humility and courage to admit their fault, make reparation, and enter into the merciful heart of Christ?

From the inside out, the Church –from its leadership to its laity—must actively expose the past and present injustices of racism in our midst and actively pursue justice for all, starting with justice for those who have been dehumanized. Is there a sufficient, or at least acceptable, penance for the sins of racism that would allow for the complicit Christian (and I include myself), who claims membership and leadership in the Church, to rejoin the communion of the faithful in all its diversity?

From the Sacristy to the School: the Challenge of Religious Education in Hungary

1 Comment(s) | Posted | by Gusztáv Kovács |

I remember myself as a young boy going every Tuesday evening to the sacristy of the so called “Convent Church” in my little home town in Hungary. It was the mid-80s, when the country was still under communist rule. Religious education (RE) at school seemed only a dream – a dream no one thought would turn into reality one day. I remember the faces of my fellow students, who I knew from serving together at the altar and some other familiar faces from school. We all felt the exceptional character of these RE classes. We knew that it was a privilege.

Now, more than three decades later, the situation has changed enormously. Religious education is not just a tolerated option for a privileged, or rather deprived minority, but is a right for every student in Hungary, a compulsory elective lesson for students aged 6-14. It’s part of normal school life.

Was something lost by making RE a compulsory subject? For my generation, attending RE classes at the sacristy in the mid-80s communist Hungary gave a sense of heroism and belonging. Heroism, since we felt that religion was not something supported by the system, but required a certain rebellious attitude. It also gave us a sense of belonging, since there were only a handful of students at these RE classes, and this fact made us feel that we belonged to a special community, sharing a life beyond the boundaries of the average life of Hungarians in the communist system. Today RE classes hardly give this very special sense of heroism or belonging.

Still, despite of these losses, I’m glad that socialism in Hungary is over, and also that today’s generation of students have the option to participate in RE within the framework of the Hungarian school system. I don’t think that we should strive for a situation where religion is persecuted or at best tolerated.

In times of socialism religion was deprived of being a source for shaping society. The church was forced to act solely within its own walls and without any influence on the development of social processes. Today the state does not just tolerate the involvement of religious communities in public life, but looks for their contribution to the development of society. This is understandable, since religious communities are still the biggest NGOs in the country, who are able to organize and shape social processes in a value based fashion. Beyond that, religious communities carry a higher level of vitality on both the institutional and the individual level. This was probably one reason why RE was accepted as part of the national curriculum in 2013.

But with this educational change, religious communities found themselves under a new kind of pressure. Now vitality is not enough. What is urgently required is a process of professionalization. RE teachers now compete with teachers of ethics, and they need to justify their presence in schools through high quality teaching. They also need to create new links to their religious communities, since many students attending RE do not have a living connection with them. It’s mostly restricted to church attendance, if it exists at all.

Many church representatives see this pressure posed by integration of RE into the curriculum as a threat to church life. They bemoan that RE classes at parishes are less and less well attended. I can understand them, since most of my religious education also took place within the walls of our local church.

What most people, however, do not see is that this pressure is not (just) a treat, but also a chance. It challenges churches on the institutional level to train RE teachers, who can perform on the same level as teachers of other subjects. It challenges schools to integrate RE into their system. Finally, it challenges every individual RE teacher to open up and make religion part of school life again. Certainly it needs creativity, courage, and stamina, but there is an unquestionable vitality at the fundament of our religious communities and a demand for spirituality on the side of students, which can serve as the fundament of this paradigm shift.

Back in the 80s, I remember my first RE teacher talking about The Last Supper by using a small table with tiny chairs, serving grape juice and unconsecrated wafer. He used all the tools he had beyond the walls of the sacristy and gave us a lifelong experience of religion. Now, that the doors of schools are open for RE, why don’t we use the same source of creativity and vitality to shape the spiritual dimension of these schools and most of all the life of our students?

Socialist times and religious oppression are over in Hungary. They have been for 30 years. It is time to reevaluate the chances of the good news beyond the walls of the sacristy.

Child Protection- Still a Long Way to Go

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

My opinion (for what it’s worth) was recently solicited in a targeted survey regarding the protection of minors in the Catholic Church in (Eastern) Africa. Respondents were asked to identify the five most burning issues (from a list of thirteen arranged alphabetically.) The survey made for grim reading: If infants survive Africa’s high mortality rates, they may face other challenges: Some AIDS orphans run households; while many children end up homeless or living on the streets; other children become soldiers; some are refugees and migrants; some suffer emotional or physical abuse; others are trafficked or forced into slavery or labour; some cultures promote what is called in most cultures ‘female genital mutilation;’ some are exploited online, while others are married at a young age, and become mothers as early teens, which often puts an end to their formal schooling. These children are frequently susceptible to infection by HIV, or caught up in inter-generational HIV transmission.

Of course, the context of the survey is to inform our heads of episcopal conferences, summoned to the February 2019 Summit on the Protection of Minors in the Catholic Church, of the real issues concerning child safeguarding in our region. The subtext is that among so many dangers that minors face in Africa, sexual abuse is a relatively minor concern: It should not be blown out of proportion (as happens in other places.)

While it is laudable to name and address all the issues challenging children on our continent (particularly in the light of the recent synod on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment), it is neither helpful nor honest to minimise the reality of the vulnerability of minors to sexual abuse – even in the Church. Of course we name that most sexual abuse takes place at home either by parents or relatives, but we must not deny that it also happens in schools and churches and in the neighbourhood. I read only one national daily newspaper, and at least once a week (in the ‘Counties’ section) there is a brief report of a child being ‘defiled’, or of a lynch mob taking justice into its own hands and attacking an alleged perpetrator, or of a case of a teacher appearing accused in a local court. I take this as very crude evidence that the sexual abuse of minors is not ‘somebody else’s problem.’ We should not bury our heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich and believe that not seeing the problem means that it doesn’t exist.

On a slightly more scientific level, “child protection officers” from around the continent confirm that sexual predation is not insignificant among the many vulnerabilities children face. And even “worse” is when it is men preying on boys, when same-sex attraction and love are taboo on our continent. (see my contribution to this forum for the FIRST of May, 2017 – “Airbrushing reality.” And see the African contributions to the recent Synod on Young People.) This only compounds the shame, guilt and confusion of the victim of abuse: How can a male child, adolescent, or young adult make public that he has been abused by another male? Nothing in our cultures has prepared us to deal with this scenario. The trouble is that if it doesn’t exist, then there is no need for structures or policies to deal with it.

I am sure that at the February summit, bishops from around the world will concur that an ad hoc financial settlement is not the way to make this nonexistent problem go away. I pray for a summit that will show the compassionate face of Christ to all of God’s children, that will put the interest of the victim before those of the institution or the perpetrator. I hope for an awakening in Africa to the reality that this is a global concern touching us no less than any other continent. I hope that our Church will have the humility to learn from others with more experience and honesty in dealing with the pain. I dream of the day when Africa gives a safe home to all of her children.

50 Years of Medellin: A Crucial Event for the Whole Church to be Updated

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

In August and September 1968, the Bishops of Latin America met to discern the "signs of the times" in the Colombian city of Medellin, under the auspices of Pope Paul VI.

They did so in a particularly troubled international context, with all kind of manifestations calling for a freer and more just world, after the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). They renewed their commitment to the cause of the lower classes, which would then be reflected in the principle of the "preferential option for the poor".

The conference of the Episcopate took place in the midst of profound transformations, which the Church itself did not escape from. Catholicism knew a promising "spring time" that, like other initiatives, advocated to revitalize the respective "worlds"[1]. These renewing "winds" have reached our current days, brought by the hand of Pope Francis.

The Medellin Conference was a crucial event for the Latin American Church and the universal Church. Bishops tried to enlighten and respond to situations of injustice in our continent - from a reality and originality rooted in our history and culture - and promote the commitment of all believers.

But Medellin was not an isolated event; it has been part of the historical development that motivates the Church to constantly elaborate specific and significant answers, which find expression in its social teaching[2]. It is not a unidirectional relationship, because that teaching is also being elaborated and reworked as a response, in a communitarian way and according to the diversity of charism that are expressed in the Church[3].

Bishops in Medellin understood that solutions should emerge from that history, its diversity and specific values, in spite of sharing similar problems (cfr. Medellin n° 6).

The tragic sign of underdevelopment appeared as a serious obstacle, conjugated with hunger and misery, endemic diseases and infant mortality, illiteracy and marginality, deep inequalities in income and tensions between social classes, outbreaks of violence and scarce participation of the people in the management of the common good, which sometimes led to violent choices[4].

Paul VI in the opening message of Medellin denounced the origin of these evils: "we cannot be in solidarity with systems and structures that conceal and favor serious and oppressive inequalities among classes and citizens of the same country, without implementing an effective plan to remedy the unbearable conditions of inferiority that the less affluent population frequently suffer”.

"This man and his community go through" a situation of dependence on inhuman economic systems and institutions, a situation that, for many of them, borders on slavery, not only physical but also professional, cultural, civic and spiritual (Medellin n° 3), whose crystallization turns evident in the unjust structures that characterize the situation in Latin America" (Medellin 1 n° 2).

It is very important the criticism of the "international structures of domination that decisively condition the underdevelopment of peripheral peoples" (Medellin 10 n° 3.15) and the "structures of economic, political and cultural dependence" (Medellin 10 n° 1.2), they are "oppressive structures, that come from the abuse of having and abuse of power, of the exploitations of the workers or the injustice of commerce" (Medellin n° 6).

In this view, poverty is not the random result of history or fatality, but a true social sin that affects the whole community of men, as an "injustice that cries out to heaven" (Medellin n° 1) and that must lead to "denounce injustice and oppression, and the intolerable situation that the Poor often supports" and, even more, demands "the willingness to dialogue with the groups responsible for that situation" (Medellin 3 n° 10).

Our Bishops assumed a clear and preferential option, to become one and in solidarity with each poor man and each people (cfr. Medellin 3 n° 14) "we want to commit ourselves to the life of all our peoples in the anguished search for adequate solutions for their multiple problems. Our mission is to contribute to the integral promotion of man and the communities of the continent".[5]

Medellin tried to respond, from the Gospel, to the "deaf cry ... of millions of men, asking their pastors for a liberation that does not come from anywhere" (Medellin 14 n° 1.2). It meant for the Latin American Church, the maturation of its own reflection, which allowed it not only to be a "reflection" teaching of the universal magisterium, but also to become its "source". Therefore, Medellin deserves indeed to be remembered, celebrated and updated as a permanent gift of the Latin American Church to the whole Church.

We perceive this gift, in three traces of the Pope Francis pastoral lines, which we can assume as a primary legacy of Medellin. On the one hand, the synodal style[6] that he is imprinting to the Church and the emphasis on collegiality among the Bishops[7] as a testimony of Unity. On the other hand, the denounce of the unjust economic structures that condemn millions of people to poverty and put at risk the very survival of all species in our planet.

Last but not least, the need of the Church to be poor and for the poor, far from the spiritual mundanity and princely frivolity[8]. It is a challenge that requires an honest conversion and an update of the Church’s discernment, as Medellin inspired.

50 years after this historic event in our continent, we can conclude with the words of Cardinal Eduardo Pironio, one of the Argentine bishops who attended the meeting, to summarize the current challenges towards the future: "Being faithful to Medellin requires interpreting and assuming its spirit (...) facing it with the daily novelties of history (...) we should not remain on an incomplete or literal interpretation of its writings, discernment needs to be continued and completed along the path of conversion and commitment"[9].



[1] We mean the spheres of laity commitment: economy, politics, science, education, etc.

[2]"The teaching and dissemination of this social doctrine is part of the evangelizing mission of the Church" (John Paul II, Sollicitudo rei socialis, nº 41).

[3] Lumen Gentium n° 12.

[4] Medellin conclusions nº 4.

[5] Medellin conclusions nº 4.

[6] We can mention the 2014’s Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops; the 2015’s Synod on the Family; the 2018’s Synod on Young People and the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region (to be hold in October 2019).

[7] "The hope expressed by the Council of episcopal collegiality has not yet been fully realized. We are still on the way" (Address of His Holiness Pope Francis, Saturday 17 th. October 2015).

[9] Eduardo PIRONIO, En el espíritu de Medellín (In the spirit of Medellín), 49-50.

Standing in Healing Solidarity with Lumo Sinai (and Thousands Like Her): Acknowledging One Man Who Does

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

In recent weeks, there has been an overall a mounting  sense of despair and gloom in light of  reports from around the world regarding sexual abuse crises in church and society . The #metoo movement for example revealed the disturbing magnitude and seemingly ubiquitous problem of sexual assault against women in all walks of life and in many contexts around the world  .

Interrupting this rather overwhelming sense of gloom, however was the good news some two weeks ago  that the 2018  Nobel Peace Prize was  jointly awarded to  Nadia Murad and Dr Denis Mukwege for their work in combating sexual violence against women and children. One of The Laureates, Dr Mukwege was recognized for his many years of advocacy and activism to combat sexual violence specifically in the Bukavu region of DRC, a region which has endured almost two decades of a protracted armed conflict .

The phrase sexual assault/violence  is almost a euphemism for what some have called with more accuracy  (in my view)  Intimate terror !  The phrase “sexual violence” does not adequately capture the kind of  terror, anguish and trauma  thousands of women have gone through particularly in contexts of armed conflicts where rape has become a “weapon of war.”  This is palpably the case for the Bukavu Region of DRC context in which Dr Denis Mukwege, works.

 The news of his award reminded me of a documentary I saw several years back. Made in 2007, the documentary  follows the   story of one young woman  Lumo Sinai who is a survivor of  a gang rape   which left her with severe bodily damage and fistulas that required multiple surgeries to repair. I learnt from the write ups around Dr Mukwege’s award that he is being recognized for his many years of advocacy for justice for thousands of women like Lumo in DRC.[1]

Dr Mukwege was recognized for founding and running Panzi hospital which has provided healing support to more than 85,000 women and  girls. [2] For 50,000 of these women, the treatment was in the form of surgical repair of fistulas, most of which were incurred through  rape, while thousands others were treated for fistulas sustained due to protracted   difficult obstructed labor labor while giving birth in contexts far a away from essential medical services.

Recognizing the complexity and the multiple layers of the trauma endured by these women, through what he calls the “Panzi Model” Dr Mukwege  has commendably developed a healing program that goes beyond the physical surgeries to include attention to the psycho-social dimensions of the women’s  trauma.[3]  Panzi makes a concerted efforts to “to stem the tide of survivors arriving at our doorsteps each day by healing not only the individual body’s and spirit but also the healing of  families, communities and indeed the nation” in which they live. This approach commendably recognizes that healing is not just about the individual survivor of sexual crimes. It recognizes that  sustainable healing will only come when we address the damage done to communities and families in contexts of armed conflict.. .a damage  quite well described by the notion that such communities are “war-torn”

In recognizing the work of Dr Mukwege, The Nobel Peace Prize committee reminds us that 2018 marks ten years since  the UN Security council adopted Resolution 1820 (2008) which determined that  sexual violence  as a weapon of war constitutes a war crime.  Many activists would consider rape not just a sexual offence but a  crime against humanity recognizing that such violence strikes at the very core of the survivors’ humanity in multiple ways.

It seems to me that awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Dr Mukwge and Nadi Murad is not only an acknowledgment of the individual activists’ work to combat such violence, wherever it appears. It is also a call to action for many more to be similarly involved in naming and combatting sexual violence, intimate terror that is indeed a crime against humanity. Dr Mukwege would concur with this interpretation since he is of the view that seeking justice is the business of everyone - not just a self selected few!

As  I continued to celebrate and reflect on the larger implications of this award, I noted with palpable  concern yet another disturbing statistic reported to the effect that “40-60 % of  women who seek treatment at Panzi are unable to return to their home communities. Though they long to do so, the extent of their injuries is prohibitive and also the fact that the violent context which led to their assault in the first place is still ongoing and so they stand  a chance of being assaulted again. Moreover, they go back home with a  “double scarlet letter” on their heads for being survivors of rape and for the fistulas that they suffer.. .which  lead to embarrassing incontinence .

For these reasons, thousands of women will not be able to have a normal family life. They are going to live in shelters as refugees in their own country.  The multilayered trauma they suffer is compounded by this reality and that they suffer is indeed heart wrenching and raises the  enduring urgent question,

Who will stand in healing solidarity with these women, exemplified by Lumo Sinai? What will such solidarity entail?  What will it take to rebuild and heal not only the individual women but also the communities that are so torn apart that flourishing  beyond survival is a pipe dream? Above all , what ought to be done to address the root causes of this sustained crime against the humanity of thousands of women? Considering that the protracted war in Northern Congo is largely about extracting the mineral wealth in the region. .. particularly Coltan, a mineral that is used in the manufacturing of cell phones and computers, what moral responsibility might there be for all of us  as consumers and as citizens of a global  village where our individual acts of omission or commission can have far reaching consequences, often leading to massive suffering as is the case here?

The answer we give to these questions both individually or collectively is crucial for  the much needed healing that goes beyond physical healing to incorporate psyho-social healing of the survivors’ deep wounds and for the healing and transformation of the contexts they live in so that prophylactically  such assault and intimate terror, will be stopped before they ever happen .

That the Nobel Prize committee awarded  this prize to advocates against sexual violence is encouraging and gives me some hope that many more in the global village will  indeed feel morally compelled  to stand with Lumo !

 

 

 



[2] See link to Panzi Hospital/Foundation here  https://www.panzifoundation.org/panzi-hospital/

 

[3] Ibid

Democracy, Economic System, Hate and Fear: Elections in Brazil

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

I began to write this article just after the first round of elections in Brazil. Now, one day after the second round and the victory of Jair Bolsonaro, I am reviewing my own writing. The result of the first round, with 13 candidates, gave the first place to Bolsonaro with 46.06% of the votes, and Fernando Haddad, candidate of the Workers’ Party, in second with 29.26%.  The top two candidates moved on to three final weeks of campaigning until election day. On October 28, 2018 Bolsonaro was elected the next president of Brazil with 55.13% of votes against 44.87% to Haddad. This election was marked by hate and fear fed by aggressive rhetoric and social media manipulation, especially by the Bolsonaro campaign team that counted on the support of US white supremacist Steve Bannon.

Bolsonaro was elected by the popular vote in a democratic election. His victory is legitimate. But the big question is how will the Bolsonaro administration be? His discourse and love for the military dictatorship lead us to fear that his administration can break the rules of the democratic and constitutional Brazilian republic.

In the first draft of this essay, I concluded encouraging people to vote against the candidate that represented a threat to democracy and to the development of the poor. With a seed of hope, I believed that Brazilian could say no to him. This did not happen. Now, it is necessary to see what will occur in the next months, especially after January 1, 2019, the day that the Bolsonaro administration will begin.

Pedro Casaldáliga, a bishop who spent his life serving the poor and the indigenous people in Brazil, said: “If you have doubt, take the side of the poor.” Paulo Freire, a Brazilian philosopher and educator, in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed, said that “those who choose neutrality, actually take the side of the oppressors and of the status quo.”

Brazil, a country with 205 million people, has a young democratic experience that began after 30 years of a violent and repressive military dictatorship. The Brazilian Constitution was promulgated in 1988 and the first presidential democratic election took place in the following year. Known as the Citizenship Constitution, the magna carta of the Federative Republic of Brazil establishes that this nation will be governed by a president elected by the popular vote with separation and autonomy of the three powers: executive, legislative, and judiciary. In its first article, the Constitution says: “All power emanates from the people, who exercise it by means of elected representatives.” Later, in article six, it affirms the social rights of all citizens: “Education, health, food, work, housing, leisure, security, social security, protection of motherhood and childhood, and assistance to the destitute are social rights.” Only these two articles of the Constitution are enough to show that the power of the president is related to the desire of its people and committed to their welfare through creation of policies that can guarantee the fulfilment of social rights.

In a country with a young democratic experience and great inequalities, any policy that represents risks for the expansion of programs toward the realization of social rights must be seen as unconstitutional and an attack against Brazilian democracy. An example of this is the approval of the proposal of a Constitutional Amendment made by the Temer administration. Known as PEC do Teto, this Amendment freezes the public expenditure and investment in crucial areas of social rights for 20 years, including health and education. This policy has led to the dismantling of the Brazilian public healthcare and educational systems. Consequently, the private sector has grown in these areas with the expansion of the health and education markets of neoliberal character. Healthcare and education have become more elitist, and inequality has grown. Those who are more fragile and vulnerable are those who pay the bill, being excluded from accessing healthcare and education.

If “all power emanates from the people,” the questions are: Do Brazilian people want more inequality in accessing social goods/rights? Does the public administration consider the will of the people? It seems that the answers to these questions are NO. But why was this Constitutional Amendment proposed by the executive branch and approved by the legislative? It is extremely complicated to respond to this question, especially in a short essay, but the answer points out that the current administration, with the worst approval rate in the Brazilian democratic period, has commitments that are not for the majority of its own people. The commitments are much closer to the financial market and those at the top 10% of Brazilian society than to those who, in fact, better represent the Brazilian people.

In this election, the Brazilian citizens had an opportunity to choose a political platform that can better reflect the Constitutional rights and the well-being of the people toward more equality and opportunities. However, it seems that the choice was for something else. Most Brazilian voters chose to vote for a strong leader who can exercise power with authoritarian force to repress the opposition, to ignore the minorities, and with a free-check to use violence to keep “the order.” In its 30 years of democracy, Brazil moves from a project of a democratic state based on inclusion of promotion of social rights to the rise of a far-right movement that denies the brutality of the military dictatorship and praises those who were responsible for this regime of exception, repression, and authoritarianism. How did Brazil arrive at this situation?

The answer to this question will certainly be a topic for many future doctoral dissertations in the departments of history, sociology, political sciences, and philosophy. But the political events of the last years, mostly related to the Workers’ Party, help us understand the current context. The Workers’ Party (PT[1] as it is known in Brazil) governed the country for 12 years (winning four democratic presidential elections) until it ended in a questionable process that impeached president Dilma Rousseff in 2016. All evidences of this process led to a conclusion that it was a parliamentarian coup, instead of an unbiased juridical trial of the president because of her disrespect of the law, as the Constitution established for an impeachment. The PT was involved in a giant corruption scandal that, fed by a biased Brazilian media, shaped public opinion against the first female Brazilian president and her party, making them responsible for all problems in the country. The judiciary branch began politicalizing its judgment, punishing people from the Workers’ Party disproportionately compared with members of the opposition parties, also involved in corruption. The lack of credibility in the PT was total. In the middle of this turmoil, the vice-president – who was also investigated for corruption, involving him and his party – took power. Later the investigations showed that many parties had been involved in corruption, revealing that the Brazilian political system itself had been sustained by corruption.

To make a long story short, the result of this turmoil was the rise of Jair Messias Bolsonaro. There is a saying in politics that suggests: “There is no vacuum in politics.” A space that is not occupied by a party, a group, or a leader is filled by another. As a radical left party, the PT was born in the restauration of Brazilian democracy after the dictatorship. It always played and respected the rules of the democratic game. It lost three presidential elections, moved to the center-left, and won four elections. Even against its desire, the PT accepted to leave power after the conclusion of a questionable process of impeachment. The opposition parties joined to take the power from the PT, but they didn’t know how to hear the cry of the Brazilian people, that is, the opposition failed to fill the vacuum left by PT. As there is no empty space in politics, Bolsonaro, with his far-right discourse, filled the vacuum.

Fed by PT’s mistakes, traditional right and center-right parties, having the mainstream media as their allies, developed a narrative that PT was responsible for all of Brazil’s problems. This created a feeling of anti-PT that dominated the hearts and minds of many (perhaps most)   Brazilians. Economic recession and the growth of violence created a feeling of insecurity and fear. The political system failed, and the society collapsed, impacting the life of the citizens with unemployment and urban violence.

Jair Bolsonaro is not an outsider. He has been a congressman for the last 28 years with mediocre performance. A former army captain, Bolsonaro has public records for being a supporter of the military regime and a defender of the return of the dictatorship. He has always been clear in his positions against gender equality, gay marriage, and minorities. Even affirming not understanding anything in economics, he defends neoliberal economic policies, such as austerity, privatization, and deregulation. This man is saying that the way to combat violence is to give guns to the good citizens to protect themselves from the bad ones. This man – who said that votes will not change the country, but a civil war – was elected the next president of Brazil by the popular vote.

In the second round of election Bolsonaro ran against the Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad. It was an election between a former military man with 28 years in the Congress, and a university professor who was ministry of education of the Lula administration (2002-2008). Unfortunately, Brazilian voters could not have the benefit of an honest debate among the two candidates. Bolsonaro refused to debate with Haddad and in the public square with the people. He led his campaign basically from his home using social media. The lack of dialogue/debate between the candidate extended to the streets and their supporters. This created a social environment of conflict fed by untruths without an opportunity of a healthy confrontation between both sides and their platforms. Therefore, instead of a clear debate of ideas between two different platforms, the votes were divided between those who hate the PT and those who fear the end of Brazilian democracy after this election.

Polls indicated that Bolsonaro would win the election. The voting confirmed it. Bolsonaro’s victory created a huge dark shade with a question mark in the middle. Based on his discourse, his administration can represent the return of the authoritarianism of dictatorship times. A few people say that this will never happen, and Bolsonaro supporters may think this will happen only against the “bad guys.” He won in a democratic election. The hope is that he will respect the democratic institutions of a country that has a new and fragile democracy. But even respecting the institutions, the application of his platform – weak and confused from the point of view of a sustainable socio-economic political project – will create more difficulties and challenges for those who are at the bottom of society, the poor and vulnerable groups, such as women, blacks, and LGBTQ. 

 In current times, it seems that the socio-political ideal presents democracy as the most acceptable regime of governance. Democracy is grounded on participation, discussion, free expression of ideas, and liberty to choose. Democracy is a system that pursues justice in a way that citizens can participate in the process of fairness. Being a real democrat is not easy. It requires tolerance to dialogue with the different; humility to accept decisions that are not your primary choice. Therefore, democracy is limited and vulnerable to movements that gain force inside democratic regimes to act against what is considered democratic. This is frustrating. But everything can change if the rules of the democratic game are respected. If this does not happen, the limitation of democracy may lead to its own end, creating a vacuum that will be filled by its opposite: the lack of participation and liberty.  

Returning to Casaldáliga and Freire’s sentences, when one has opportunity to choose and have doubt about which side is better, choosing the side of the poor is an option for justice. If among both political sides, you don’t like either, don’t be neutral because neutrality is not neutral. Rather it is the side of those who support the status quo of a few against the those who are marginalized. In the Brazilian case, “neutrality” is the side of the one who is pro authoritarianism. Democracy is fragile and frustrating. Hate and fear cannot be the motivation to force citizens, in a democratic country, to choose the option that puts at risk the young Brazilian democracy and the fortification of the wall separating the rich and the poor. But the choice was for the one who has a discourse that praises authoritarianism and threatens the democracy. Now, for those who believe in democracy and liberty, it is time to see how the new administration will be. If it threatens the democracy and oppresses the people, especially the poor and marginalized groups, a new era of resistance and struggle for freedom and justice must begin.



[1] In portuguese “Partido dos Trabalhadores” (PT).

The Judgment of Human Beings and the Forgiveness of God

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

            Asahara Shoko the founder of the Aum Shinrikyo cult and thirteen other former senior members of his group, were executed in July. They were found guilty of crimes, including among others the sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway, in 1995. Nevertheless however, death penalty or capital punishment, is an issue the Japanese need to ponder over more sincerely and realistically.

            His Holiness Pope Francis approved the revision of number 2267 of the Catholic Catechism that refers to the death penalty, due to the reason that the death penalty is something we cannot accept. It is an attack on the non-aggressive nature of the human person, as well as on human dignity.

            Nonetheless, it is reported that over 80 percent of the people of Japan approve of the death penalty. What could be the reason behind this? Why is it that so many take such an ambiguous attitude towards this issue, despite their lacking an adequate knowledge of it? We may perhaps be able to state that this is as it were, something unique to Japanese.

The truth is there are multiple issues linked to the death penalty, but I personally wish to focus here upon the judgment of human beings, and the forgiveness of God. Our Lord Jesus said, “Stop judging!” (Mt 7:1), while St. Paul declared, “Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Rom 12:19).

            When we seek to judge someone or something, what we need is a sort of a norm whereby we may judge, and even more, at times it is desirable on our part to take a firm attitude when necessary to certain issues. At the same time however, can we human beings really be able to conceive of such a norm? The first thing we need to realize here, is that we are weak and uncertain creatures.

            What is the true significance of forgiveness as revealed in the Bible? Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you. Go [and] from now on do not sin anymore.” (Jn. 8:11). Jesus in this way does not condemn her as guilty, but rather, enables her to begin a new life. This sort of forgiveness is closely related to love. (cf. Col 3:12-14). Forgiveness moreover is a process. In other words, it is usually accompanied by pain, suffering, and conflict.

            The death penalty is directly related to life, and hence, we should not attempt to judge and solve a problem merely by emotion and feeling. Indeed, it is vital on our part to make allowance for the feelings of the bereaved. Yet in Japan, in many cases the death penalty is imposed not in accordance with the law of the nation, but through the free choice of the people responsible in the Ministry of Justice.

            Simultaneously however, on the other hand, we should not view this problem in too naïve a manner. Rather, we need to ponder over it more realistically. For instance, how can we reduce the number of desperate criminals around us? How can we learn true forgiveness? To avoid false accusations, we may need to accept for example, a life imprisonment. At any rate, we need to probe this issue more sincerely and patiently.

            God does not want life to be lost, whatever the case may be. God is life itself. “As I live—oracle of the Lord God—I swear I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from your evil ways! Why should you die, house of Israel?” (Ez 33:11).

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