Forum Submissions





July 2019

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

June 2019

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

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

   Czech Republic Petr Štica  Civil Protests and Theological Ethics

May 2019

 South Africa  Anthony Egan Power Outrage

Anne Celestine Achieng Oyier Ondigo 

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

April 2019

 United States  Emily Reimer-Barry  

Does catechism class groom young people for sexual abuse?

   Austria  Martin Lintner   

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

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

La protección de menores en la Iglesia

  Jamaica   Anna Perkins

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


March 2019

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

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

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

February 2019

Colombia Maria Isabel Gil Espinosa 

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

   Puerto Rico  Jorge José Ferrer

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

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

January 2019

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

December 2018

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

Aníbal Torres

Características del liderazgo político necesario para enfrentar la crisis mundial

November 2018


Geevarghese Kaithavana

Resonance of Gender Equality in India

Gregor Buss

Jewish Responses to Laudato Sí

Michael Jaycox

A Climate of Fear, Incompetence, and Possibility

     Osamu Takeuchi

 The Judgment of Human Beings and the Forgiveness of God

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

October 2018

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

September 2018

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

July 2018

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

June 2018

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

May 2018

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

April 2018

 Phillipines Agnes Brazal  Migrant Workers and Modern Slavery
   Brazil Alexandre A. Martins  Fraternity and The Challenge of Overcoming Violence 
   United Kingdom  Tina Beattie  Who Represents the Church?
   United States  Mary M. Doyle Roche  The Pace of the Children

March 2018

   Mary Jo Iozzio  Not Washed in the Blood of the Lamb: Another Bloodbath Against the Vulnerable
     Anthonia Bolanle Ojo  Care for the Earth: A Call to Responsible Stewardship
    Miguel Ángel Sánchez Carlos  Saber “Tomar el Pulso Social”
     Ingeborg Gabriel  The Challenge of Peace Today – Secular and Ecclesial Engagement in Dialogue
     Osamu Takeuchi  Life and Beauty in Oikonomia

February 2018


January 2018

Anthonia Bolanle Ojo
A Life of Dignity for All: The Foundation of Sustainable Development
     Hoa Trung Dinh Australia's Postal Survey on Same-Sex Marriage
     Petr Stica Dialogue with "People on the Borders" and "Beyond the Walls" and Theological Ethics
     Ramón Luzárraga El Peligro del Populismo
     Ramón Luzárraga The Peril of Populism
     Tobias Winright What Are the Implications of the "Very Possession" of Nuclear Weapons Being "Firmly Condemned"?

December 2017

Solange Ngah
What is at Stake in an Ecological Theology of Creation
     Mary Mee-Yin Yuen Who Should Decide Who I Am
     Marianne Heimbach-Steins Civil Status Law, Gender and Identity, and Catholic Ethics
     Claudia Leal Francisco en Chile: Recta Final de los Preparativos Para la Visita de 2018
     Shawnee M Daniels-Sykes More Loud Voices, More Loud Silences: Gun or Firearm Control and Active Euthanasia and Mercy Killing

November 2017

Peter Knox
Why is Africa Allergic to Elections?
     Agnes Brazal Complicity in the Summary Executions in Duterte's Drug War
     Aníbal Torres La Pregunta de Lutero y sus Implicancias Para la Ética Social
     Thomas Massaro At Stake: The Soul of the Nation

October 2017

  Tina Beattie No Fences Left to Sit On
     Stanislaus Alla Democracy at Crossroads in India!
     Emilce Cuda El Endeudamiento de la Ética Teológica Aplicada
   United States  Mary Doyle Roche An American Horror Story

September 2017

South Africa Anthony Egan Augustine our Interlocutor
   Phillipines Eric Genilo Anti-Discrimination Legislation for LGBT Persons
  Austria Ingeborg Gabriel "So Sorry!" - Reflections on the Moral Importance of an Everyday Word
   Puerto Rico Jorge José Ferrer La Vacunación Pediátrica Obligatoria: El Caso de la Vacuna del VPH
  United States Michael Jaycox Moving from Words to Action After Charlottesville

July 2017

Nigeria Anthonia Bolanle Ojo Religious Intolerance in Nigeria: An Abuse of Human Rights
   Japan Osamu Takeuchi A Path Towards the Building of Peace
   Brazil Alexandre Martins Are Brazilians Cordial People? - Intolerance and A Camillian Physician, a Sign of Hope
  United States Ramón Luzárraga Access to Public Transportation Should Be Made (More) Explicit in Catholic Social Teaching
   United States MT Dávila To Set the Captives Free: Justice for Black and Brown Communities in an Era of Mass Detention and Incarceration

June 2017

South Africa Anthony Egan Standing for the Truth - Again!
   Malaysia  Sharon Bong Asia's Diversity and Gender Diversity
   Hungary  Tamás Ragadics and Gusztáv Kovács Are you In, or Out? - Public Service in Hungary
   Mexico  Miguel Ángel Sánchez Carlos Hoy en México el Periodismo es Profetismo
  United States   Shawnee Daniels-Sykes Dream Maker Reviving our Peace: Our Current Reality and the Story of Joseph

May 2017

Kenya Peter Knox Airbrushing Reality Airbrushing Reality 
   Australia  Hoa Trung Dinh  Assisted Dying Bill in Victoria Must Be Rejected
   Argentina  Pablo Blanco  Laudato Sí­ - Care of Creation as the New Social Issue
   United States  Mary M. Doyle Roche  Solvitur Ambulando - It Is Solved by Walking

April 2017

 Kenya Teresia Hinga Left to Tell, Left to Heal (each other) through Story and Testimony: Her-Stories of African Women's Quest for Justice and Healing in Contexts of Transition
   Hong Kong  Mary Mee-Yin Yuen  Small-Circle Election in Hong Kong
   Argentina  Augusto Zampini  Laudato Si' and Catholic Dialogue on Integral Ecology
   Chile  Claudia Leal Luna  Quien No Conoce el Bosque Chileno, No Conoce Este Planeta
   Brazil  Alexandre Martins  Public Dialogue and the Role of Media: Examples from Brazil and the USA
  UnitedStates Mary Jo Iozzio Reconciliation in Ordinary and Extraordinary Times
  United States Thomas Shannon The Lasting Legacy of Amoris Laetitia

March 2017

South Africa Anthony Egan The Moral Implication of Protest 
  Phillippines Agnes Brazal Fake News, Facebook, and "Ethics in Internet"
  United Kingdom Tina Beattie It Stops With Me!
  Argentina Anibal Torres El Papa Francisco y la "ética de la solidaridad" en las relaciones internacionales
  United States Thomas Massaro Ethicists and President Trump: Providing Moral Leadership for Vigilance and Resistance

February 2017

 Cameroon  Solange Ngah  The Practice of Healing Ministry in Africa: What is the Christian Contribution Today?
   India Stanislaus Alla Reconciling Peoples
  Austria Ingeborg Gabriel It's the Morals, Stupid! On the Importance of Ethics in the Post-Truth Age
   Puerto Rico  Jorge Jose Ferrer
  United States  Michael Jaycox  What is Truth?

January 2017

 Nigeria Anthonia Bolanle Ojo The Challenges of Economic Recession on the Dignity of Nigeria Citizens
   Phillipines  Eric Genilo The Marcos Burial
   United States  Ramón Luzárraga ¿Están Las Américas verdaderamente convirtiéndose en un Hemisferio de Paz?
   United States  Nichole Flores and Mary Jo Iozzio Mercy and the Failure to Form Moral Imagination

December 2016

Kenya Peter Knox HIV-vaccine launch hype
  Japan Osamu Takeuchi A Carpenter in the Reign of God
  Germany PetrStica ,Crisis of democracy' - Challenges for theological ethics / Impulses of theological ethics
  Mexico Jutta Battenberg Galindo Reflexiones en torno a la carta apostólica "Misericordia et Misera"
  USA Mary Doyle Roche "The Nightmare Before Christmas"

November 2016

 Malaysia  Sharon Bong  'What's gender got to do with climate justice?'
   Germany  Marianne Heimbach-Steins  The Jubilee of Mercy - Social ethical reflections
   Argentina  EmilceCuda  Francisco y el Trabajo
   Mexico  Miguel Angel Sanchez Carlos  Choque moral en México
   United States  Michael Jaycox  VSED: Is the Practice both Respectful and Compassionate?

October 2016

 Uganda  Margaret Ssebunya  Of violent protests in South African universities: Where is the Church in South Africa?
   United Kingdom  Julie Clague  Structural injustice revisited
   United States  Mary Jo Iozzio  The US Affordable Care Act: Modest Success

September 2016 


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

 Hong Kong

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

 United  Kingdom

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

July 2016

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

 Thomas Massaro and Mary Jo Iozzio

Padova: Ten Years Later and …

June 2016

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

May 2016

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

April 2016

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

March 2016

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

February 2016

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

January 2016

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

December 2015

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

November 2015

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

October 2015

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

September 2015

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

August 2015

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

July 2015

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

June 2015

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

May 2015

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

April 2015

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

March 2015

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

February 2015

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

January 2015

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

December 2014

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

November 2014

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

October 2014

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

September 2014

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

June 2014

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

May 2014

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

April 2014

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

March 2014

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

February 2014

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

December 2013

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

November 2013

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

October 2013

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

September 2013

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

August 2013

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

July 2013

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

June 2013

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

May 2013

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

April 2013

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

March 2013

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

January 2013

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

December 2012

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

November 2012

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

October 2012

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

September 2012

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

August 2012

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

July 2012

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

June 2012

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

May 2012

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

March 2012

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

February 2012

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

December 2011

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

November 2011

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

October 2011

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

August 2011

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

July 2011

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


Alexandre Martin

Gender Theory and Catholic Education

5 Comment(s) | Posted | by Tina Beattie |

Debates about gender have a potent capacity to dominate public discourse, inflaming passions and provoking furious confrontations between religious conservatives and gender activists of various kinds.

In this febrile atmosphere, many Catholics might welcome informed guidance from the Vatican as to how to engage young people meaningfully in a dialogue about gender theory. The Congregation for Catholic Education (CCE) has now published a document which purports to offer that.  ‘Male and female he created them: Towards a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education’ sets out the terms for dialogue about gender and sex education on the basis of ‘three guiding principles’ – ‘to listen, to reason and to propose’.

This suggests that the document might offer an informed and irenic engagement with current scientific and theoretical understanding with regard to issues of gender, in close engagement with relevant academic literature. But before the word ‘dialogue’ is even mentioned, it has set out its conditions in no uncertain terms, making clear that the term ‘gender’ can legitimately be used only to refer to binary, heterosexual identities and relationships. Before long we find ourselves back in the thicket of blind dogma and prejudicial labelling which have become characteristic of the Vatican’s approach to what it calls ‘gender ideology’. Any questioning of divinely ordained and biologically and psychologically embodied ‘sexual dimorphism’ is a symptom of cultural decline and results from ‘the adoption of an anthropology opposed to faith and to right reason’. Gender theory is the product of a relativistic mindset which promotes a process of ‘denaturalisation’. It destabilises the family, cancels out sexual difference, and makes gender a matter of personal choice driven by individual will and not informed by any consideration for the structures and values of society. Gender theory promotes a ‘a utopia of the “neuter”’, and the idea of gender neutrality or a third gender is a ‘fictitious construct’. Quotations and footnotes refer only to other Vatican documents and papal writings. In other words, the insistence that listening is key to dialogue is not respected or modelled in any way in the writing of this CCE document. All this gives a hollow ring to its declared recognition of common ground shared with gender theorists based on the need to promote better understanding of sexual difference and to avoid all forms of bullying and prejudice.

Strictly speaking, the document is advisory and not authoritative, and those responsible for Catholic education are entitled to ignore it. However, there are rumours that the CDF is also planning a document on gender, and if this one is anything to go by, I dread what that might contain. The CCE text offers rich pickings to the Church’s many critics in the secular media. Theologians like myself might console ourselves with pointing to its non-authoritative status, but that rightly has little purchase when we seek public engagement.

But more important is the anguish that this risks creating for LGBTQI Catholics who strive to be true to the Church and true to themselves, or for parents seeking to offer loving support and affirmation to children struggling with issues of identity and gender – children who are at high risk of suicide and mental health problems. I think of the many Christians I know who do not conform to the Vaticanese of documents like this, who are providing loving homes to children and who are struggling as every couple does to build sustaining, faithful and loving relationships in a culture of harshly individualistic and consumerist values. These people are often in the frontline of resisting the ruthless brutality of our modern political and economic systems, supporting refugees, working with the homeless, campaigning for environmental protection. I know these people. They are my friends and colleagues, my students and neighbours. They are part of the community I and countless other modern Catholics belong to, and to which we hold ourselves accountable when our benighted church leaders issue documents like this.

If the Catholic hierarchy could let go of its fear and resistance to any suggestion of gender fluidity or diversity, it would discover that the Catholic tradition is in itself gender fluid. The language of Catholic theology and particularly of devotional and mystical texts opens into a poetic and prismatic array of gendered relationships, weaving the human and the divine into intense relationships of erotic, maternal and filial love and friendship which elude all sexual binaries. I use Pope John Paul II’s Mulieris Dignitatem to teach theology of gender. I can identify at least five different genders in that document, based on various appeals to nuptial ecclesiology and sexual difference.

Pope Francis has used the term ‘ideological colonization’ to condemn what he sees as western cultural domination of poorer societies, particularly through the promotion of gender theory. Yet one could just as well argue that the modern nuclear family is in itself a form of ideological colonization, exported around the world by European powers and Christian missionaries over the last five hundred years. The modern family may have done more than any other institution to sever extended kinship relationships and to contribute to the fragmentation of interdependent communities.  With its insatiable demands for ever better lifestyles and opportunities fuelling economic growth, the middle class family of late modernity belongs within a culture of isolated individualism with its neo-liberal political underpinnings – a political and economic order which all recent popes have insisted is antithetical to a Catholic understanding of society.

As different cultures and groups reclaim their histories from the commanding metanarratives of western imperialism, we are discovering that gender in traditional societies is a more diverse and fluid concept than post-Enlightenment rationalism was able to accommodate. This is as true of pre-modern Catholicism as it is of other traditional communities and cultures.

Nothing I am saying here denies the beauty of the Catholic understanding of marriage as a unitive and sometimes procreative love which can be interpreted as an analogy of the love between God and humankind through the sacramental life of the Church. Nor am I saying that everything which emanates from gender theory is necessarily helpful or healthy. I am merely pointing out that there is much to be learned on both sides if gender theorists and Catholic theologians really are willing to engage in dialogue about possibilities and limitations, including questions of finitude and vulnerability, dignity and relationality. 

If the document produced by the CCE is an accurate reflection of the level of understanding and engagement which the hierarchy is willing to bring to the table of dialogue, then it would be better for all of us if they simply keep quiet, for they lack the competence, the respect and the knowledge to contribute meaningfully to that dialogue.

“Grace Filling Families”: Reading Amoris Laetitia in the Context of Syro-Malankara Church

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Geevarghese Kaithavana |

Syro-Malankara Catholic Church is one of the Sui Iuris churches in the Catholic communion.[1] Due to the diversity of ecclesial traditions as well as cultural diversity, “the deposit of faith or the truths are one thing and the manner in which they are enunciated, in the same meaning and understanding, is another” (Gaudium et Spes 62). In such situations, “each country or region, moreover, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs” (Amoris Laetitia 3). After this instruction from Pope Francis, the Bishops’ Councils of several countries have issued pastoral guidelines and solutions which are suited for their particular culture. Although there were some initiatives, unfortunately, the Church in India where the three rites of the Catholic Church co-exist, was very late to implement the Amoris Laetitia in its diverse pastoral contexts. Other than conducting few seminars or workshops on Amoris Laetitia, no official teachings were given from the part of the Church to implement the guidelines of Amoris Laetitia in the particular pastoral contexts of each church of India.

Taking inspiration from the teaching of the Amoris Laetitia and after recognizing the need for effective service to marriage and family, the Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malankara Church has decided to reflect upon implementing the teachings of the Amoris Laetitia in the Church through convening its Major-Archi-Episcopal Assembly. The Major Archi-Episcopal Assembly “is a consultive group of the entire group of the entire Church over which the patriarch [Major Archbishop] presides and which assists the Patriarch [Major Archbishop] and the Synod of Bishops of the Patriarchal Church [Major Archi-Episcopal Church] in dealing with the matters of major importance especially in order to harmonize appropriately the forms and programs of the apostolate and ecclesiastical discipline with the current circumstances of the time, taking into account the common good of its own Church as well as the common good of the entire territory where several Churches sui iuris co-exist” (CCEO c. 140). The Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church has observed various challenges that exist within the Syro-Malankara Church and the society. Having examined those pastoral challenges, the Synod of Bishops has published a Lineamenta (working document) named Grace Filling Families for deep study and reflection of marriage and family and the challenges to them. The Lineamenta has been given to each and every family with a view to conduct workshop and discussions in the parishes and dioceses. The Major Archi-Episcopal Assembly will be summoned as a conclusion on this deliberation on 8-10 October 2019 at the Catholicate Centre, Trivandrum, Kerala, India, not only to practice the teaching of marriage and family but also to respond to the challenges of marriage and family in the particular context of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.

The Lineamenta, through its five chapters, deliberates the mystery of family and marriage in detail. It describes the meaning of family and marriage from Scriptural, Patristic, liturgical and magisterial perspectives. The teachings of the Catholic Church on marriage, family, and sexuality are clearly emphasised in the Lineamenta. Marriage and family as the institution of God, the sacramentality of marriage, unity and indissolubility of marriage, the inseparability of love and life, love as the end of marriage, the gift of sexuality, sexual intimacy, domestic church, holiness of marriage, vocation and family, the gift of life and its sanctity, responsible parenthood, exchange of faith from one generation to another, models of life, etc., are some of the prominent points of discussion.

On the other hand, several problems and challenges are addressed where the immediate focus and remedies from the Church are inevitable. It reminds that the theological ideal of marriage and family is inadequate to solve these issues. They may be abstract and henceforth, the Lineamenta suggests the concrete situations and practical possibilities of real families. The Synod of Bishops observed that the families in India, especially that in Kerala, also face challenges such as: cohabitation, trial unions, premarital sex, extra marital sex, free sex, cyber-sex, pornography, same sex union, wrong concept about sexuality, fatherless children, single parent families, violence against women, rape, dowry, sexual exploitation of children, children born outside the wedlock, issues related to responsible parenthood, gender issues, increasing number of divorces and remarriages, absence of proper parenting, mixed marriages, love jihad, honour killing, caste system, marriages involving disparity of cult, the use of contraceptives, artificial reproduction, abortion, euthanasia, murder, suicide, sterilization, health care, migration, drugs, problems of the elderly, problems of widows and widowers, influence by the media, alcohol, migration, etc. The Lineamenta further examines the reasons attributable to these challenges and problems such as wrong understanding of freedom, anthropological and cultural changes, extreme individualism, materialism, modernism, hedonism, secular humanism, etc.

It is said that the families in Kerala, especially the Christian families, are very traditional in nature. Although known for its high rate of literacy, it is rather closed in its approach to any open discussion on marriage and sexuality. The Lineamenta has positively and deliberately discussed these topics in detail in order to emancipate awareness within the Church. A handful of issues which were not seriously discussed in a traditional Christian community are addressed in the Lineamenta. For example, the approach towards the divorced and remarried, persons of homosexual behaviour, trans-genders, need of sex education, sexual intimacy and pleasure in the spousal life, birth control, etc., are some of the topics of concern. The discussion regarding the ecclesial life of the people in irregular situations as well as a compassionate approach towards those people are also appreciable.

The Lineamenta is not an official teaching. It is only a direction for discussion and study. But, the essence of the Lineament gives the pulse of Amoris Laetitia. It assists the faithful to think about the various dimensions of the issues. The faithful of the Church consider the discussion in the Lineamenta rather seriously since the topic is essentially related to their common life. Although, there is a mention about the ‘sense of the faithful,’ i.e., “the whole body of the faithful … cannot err in matters of belief” (CCC 92), how far the sensus fidelium is accepted in the policy making of the Church is a different question. Whether the assembly brings any guidelines in the debated issues like sacramental reception of people in the irregular unions is yet another matter of discussion.

In this context it is appreciable for the Syro-Malankara Church to observe the Universal Church, the manner how the particular churches in different continents have reflected upon Amoris Laetitia and have applied it in their own pastoral challenges. For example, the Bishops of Malta and Gozo issued guidelines under the title, “Criteria for the Application of Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia” for a responsible accompaniment of their faithful. The Bishops of Buenos Aires drafted a document named, “Basic Criteria for the Application Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia,” for the pastoral care of their faithful. The Catholic Bishops of the Alberta and North West Territories prepared “Guidelines for the Pastoral Accompaniment of Christ’s Faithful who are Divorced and Remarried without a Decree of Nullity.” The Archdiocese of Philadelphia issued a “Pastoral Guidelines for Implementing Amoris Laetitia” for the pastoral discernment. The Polish Bishops issued “Pastoral Guidelines for the Exhortation of Amoris Laetitia” for the ministry of accompaniment. The Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon published “Pastoral Guidelines for Implementing Amoris Laetitia” for their effective pastoral ministry. These are some of the living examples for the Synod of Bishops and for the Major Archi-Episcopal Assembly of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church to prepare pastoral guidelines for implementing Amoris Laetitia especially the VIII chapter in the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.

The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church has its own legacy and heritage through its liturgical antiquity. It develops its own theology on Trinity, Christology, Pneumatology, Eucharist, Mariology, Marriage, Eschatology, etc. through its liturgical tradition. But, so far the Church has not developed an ethical system which can guide its faithful to solve the challenges they face especially in their family life. Reading Amoris Laetitia in the particular context and traditions of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church through the Major Archi-Episcopal Assembly is an indomitable opportunity to draft its own theology of marriage and sexuality and ethical responses. It will enable the faithful of the Church to address the contemporary challenges of their time and solve those issues of their context. Reading the signs of the time through reading the Amoris Laetitia will be a new chapter in the history of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church on the verge of its centenary of Re-Union in 2030.

[1] For a detailed history of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, see

How Much Space is Enough?

2 Comment(s) | Posted | by Aline Kalbian |

Keywords: Laudato Si’, Space, Confinement, Ontological Damage, Privilege

Earlier this spring I was selected to serve on a Federal District Court jury for a civil case that lasted three days. The jury was not sequestered; however, we were confined for several hours at a time to the courtroom and the comfortable jury suite, which was replete with baskets of snacks, endless coffee and tea, and a fridge filled with cold drinks. As we looked out the large windows at a beautiful Tallahassee spring day, my fellow jurors and I complained about feeling trapped (especially since we couldn’t have our cell phones, laptops, or pads with us). None of this will strike you as remarkable except for the fact that the plaintiff in our case, an inmate at a Florida Correctional Facility acting as his own attorney, was suing two officers for applying “excessive force”. This life-term inmate had been in the prison system for more than a decade—much of it in confinement. He carefully described the cell he shared with another inmate: confined to a cramped space, with a small window on the door, food was delivered to them through a small flap. On days when they were allowed to shower, they were cuffed first, while the guards shaved them, and then walked them to the shower area.

The inmate’s testimony haunted me for days after I was “released” from my jury duty. As I remembered our complaints about being cooped up, I thought about the inmate who left the trial to return to his cage-like cell. The jury room was palatial in contrast to the space he had to share with his cellmate; and my 2000 square foot house suddenly felt obscene.

How many square feet does a human being need to survive and to thrive? Clearly we need more than an 8x10 cell. In our affluent Western societies, we obsess about adequate space, with house sizes growing as we convince ourselves that we need extra bathrooms, huge walk-in closets, 3-car garages, and more. And yet we are also attracted to the coziness that the small house movement seems to offer.

This question of how much space we need is both political and ethical. A dominant minority controls how much space people are entitled to have. Only those with political power are able to draw lines … to demarcate desirable v. undesirable properties to mortgage, erect walls and fences to enforce “one’s place”, and build prisons to incarcerate those who trespass against the space of the privileged.  President Trump declared recently: “Our country is full. Our area is full. The sector is full. We can't take you anymore.” The president of the most powerful nation in the world is authorized to decide how much space his citizens need. Of course, Trump’s comments weren’t really about space; they were about who inhabits the space he controls.

Space is thus more than an ethical and political issue; it is deeply existential. The irony is that although humans need space, we also need closeness and attachment, proximity to others. Enclosing and confining certain citizens as we do in prisons harms them and damages our society.  Lisa Guenther, in Solitary Confinement: Social Death and Its Afterlives (2012), writes about the ontological damage that solitary confinement does to the inmate. It is “a disturbance or even derangement of the complex relations between self, other, and world in a confined space where, for the most part, experience of spatial and intercorporeal depth are foreclosed” (181). Human connections are integral to our thriving, yet we resist connections that violate our personal space. For our brothers and sisters who are suffering in prison or from political oppression, contemplating the need for any personal space is a painful reminder of their circumstances.

In a different context, Pope Francis addresses the issue of space and how we humans choose to divide it in Laudato Si'. He writes,

§44. … Many cities are huge, inefficient structures, excessively wasteful of energy and water. Neighborhoods, even those recently built, are congested, chaotic and lacking in sufficient green space. We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal, and deprived of physical contact with nature. 

§45. In some places, rural and urban alike, the privatization of certain spaces has restricted people’s access to places of particular beauty. In others, “ecological” neighborhoods have been created which are closed to outsiders in order to ensure an artificial tranquility. 

So, whether it is our abhorrent system of incarceration, the President’s refusal to welcome the oppressed and downtrodden into our national space, or the Pope’s concerns about how we have compartmentalized the natural world, the moral problem we face is about how to promote and protect human dignity. The District Court’s jury suite was palatial while the average cell size in Florida’s prisons is smaller than either of the two bathrooms to which we had unrestricted access. Families fleeing political and economic oppression want to enter our country while the President declares that we are out of room; yet many of us need only look around our homes and universities and other edifices to see the unutilized space that functions as a buffer –a buffer that we foolishly believe will keep us safe. In a similar way, the ecological neighborhoods that Francis describes help us to ignore the reality of environmental destruction and its borderless incursions. Until we can fully confront the political, ethical, and existential meanings of space, we will continue to be trapped by it.

UN Habitat Assembly

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

Keywords:  United Nations, city, urban, slum, creativity

Imagining a city, I used to think of crowds of people living close to each other, cut off from nature, and from each other, each family minding its own business, sharing public transport only when absolutely necessary, if there is no family car. The air is dusty, smoky and noisy, and piles of litter lie around because the city council cannot keep up with the removal service. Traffic jams cause people to spend extra hours away from their family every day, and this is not helped by the poor quality of the roads. This, at least, has been my experience of many (not all) African and Asian cities I have known. 

This couldn’t be further from the ideal. Cities don’t have to be noisy, dirty, dangerous, alienating places to live in, poor alternatives to an idyllic rural life. Many people choose to live in cities for their convenience and cultural richness. Such an optimistic vision of cities was shared by the participants in the first ever UN-Habitat Assembly held in Nairobi in the last week of May. Four heads of state, leaders of regional blocs, of city councils, of civil society, of UN agencies, of industry and planning, and civil society from around the world met for the week to discuss the theme of innovation for a better quality of life in cities and communities. Under discussion was how human creativity can make it easier for people to live safely, sustainably, and inclusively in towns and cities with nobody being left behind. Guiding the agenda of the assembly were Sustainable Development Goal number 11 about cities and communities, and the New Urban Agenda agreed by UN Habitat in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016.

As usual, “the Church” took an active part in this important forum about what is going on in our modern world: A delegation of three people from the nunciature of the Holy See in Nairobi were at the high-level discussions, where the head of the delegation presented the position of Pope Francis about cities, which can be found in Laudato Si’. The statement of the Holy See quoted: “We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal, and deprived of physical contact with nature,” as well as the Pope’s call for city planners to integrate city design with the natural environment to enhance people’s quality of life.

Many of the discussions at the Assembly were taking it for granted that cities are potentially better places than rural areas for people to live in a sustainable manner. Denser populations mean that people have to travel shorter distances to reach the necessary services like schools, markets and hospitals. If they need to, they can travel relatively easily to work. It is easier for governments to provide water, electricity, internet, sewage and refuse collection, etc., when they don’t have to stretch these services out for hundreds of square kilometers of urban sprawl.

In line with many of the recommendations from the Holy See, the experts discussed the consultation of local communities in the design of their cities: how much common space to incorporate into the town plan; what recreation facilities they would like; how to enhance a sense of belonging and community; what gender-reserved spaces should be created, etc. In cases where it is necessary to relocate people for their own safety, it is important to consult them in the whole process, rather than imposing a top-down decision. It takes about 10 consultations with communities in order to get people on-side and to agree to solutions that work for the majority. So work with communities is a slow and painstaking process. A computer game called “Minecraft” was used as an example of how communities might become involved in a wide consultation about the design of their own public spaces.

What I found less consoling was that many urban experts take it for granted that global warming will not in fact be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius – the aim of the Paris Climate Accord. About one billion people living in coastal cities will be threatened by rising sea levels. And many more people will stream to urban centres in the future, as rural life becomes more harsh. Discussions focussed on how to make cities more resilient to the effects of climate change, and how to accommodate the growing number of people moving to the cities. Projections for the growth of cities were staggering. About half of the urban infrastructure that will be needed by 2050 is not in place yet, and so there is a lot of room for intelligent people-centred design.

 I was heartened to hear discussion about almost a billion people living in slums around the world. Rather than living in denial and turning a blind eye to their needs, everything possible should be done to improve their living conditions. A very good presentation was given by young people about how some areas of Mathare slum in Nairobi have been cleared of rubbish, and been turned into public space. Images were given of the ‘before’ and ‘after,’ illustrating how the community now benefits from this enhanced public space.

 One wonders why it took 41 years between the founding of UN Habitat and this first assembly. But given the enthusiasm and energy that I saw at the assembly, it is good news that this important global forum will now be held every four years. Hopefully the Church, with millennia of experience of people living in urban environments, will always have a progressive and understanding contribution to make.


0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Emilce Cuda |

“Quien quiere el cielo en la tierra, produce el infierno" -Franz Hinkelammert

Palabras claves: Estado de derecho, legalidad, legitimidad, ley positiva, ley moral, crisis ecológica, justicia, mandamientos y Laudato Si. 

Keywords: Rule of law, legality, legitimacy, positive law, moral law, ecological crisis, justice, commandments, and Laudato Si.

Estamos en el reino de la ley, eso es, finalmente, el Estado de derecho. Lo que no queda claro es si la ley, en todos los casos, sostiene en la vida o facilita la muerte. En algunos contextos políticos latinoamericanos esto es dudoso. Tomaré como marco de esta reflexión al teólogo alemán Franz Hinkelammert, quien ha hecho una interpretación fuerte, no ortodoxa, pero novedosa de los hechos actuales abriendo otra mirada sobre los mismos.

Por un lado, vemos que “los seres humanos de abajo, los oprimidos y explotados, viven diariamente explotados y oprimidos bajo el cumplimiento de la ley. Su situación de explotación y opresión no se explica por ninguna transgresión de la ley. Sus explotadores y opresores actúan respaldados por la ley, los tribunales y la policía”.

Por otro lado, vemos que, para derrocar gobiernos elegidos democráticamente, de manera legal y legítima, no hacen falta revoluciones. El mismo sistema tiene sus métodos: el aparato jurídico del Estado. Así, en nombre de la ley, en América Latina se destituyen presidentes, se encarcelan candidatos populares, se amenaza de encierro a otros, o se saca de juego a todo ciudadano -trabajador o empresario- vinculado a la política, sin pruebas ni juicio previo. 

Algo similar ocurre en con el cuidado del medio ambiente. La encíclica Laudato Si no solo ha denunciado la crisis ecológica, sino que interpela a un cambio inmediato en hábitos, costumbres y leyes si no se quiere terminar con la biología en el planeta. Sin embargo, a pesar de que movimientos y organizaciones sociales, académicos y artistas han respondido al desafío, los Estados de derecho no han tomado aun las medidas legales necesarias. De continuar con este sistema de regulaciones que legaliza -pero no legitima- la explotación inmoral de los recursos naturales, la vida de todos los seres vivos corre peligro. 

La acusación de corrupción o robo parece ser razón suficiente para que lo jurídico avance sobre lo moral. Con el correr de los siglos, el “No robarás” desplaza al “No matarás”, como razón suficiente para la condena social por parte de la opinión pública.

Esta situación jurídica -que hoy es calamitosa y urgente en algunos países del fin del mundo porque son quienes sufren de manera directa las primeras consecuencias-, hace pertinente una reflexión de Adam Smith citada por Hinkelammert: "Por poca que sea la protección que las leyes dispensan a los esclavos contra la violencia de sus señores, mucho más fácil ha de ser la ejecución de aquella ley favorable en donde el gobierno se maneja de un modo monárquico, que donde se aproxima más al estado republicano. En cualquier parte en que se halle establecida la inhumana ley de esclavitud, el magistrado a cuyo cargo está la protección de los siervos viene a mezclarse de un modo indirecto en el manejo económico de las haciendas del señor de ellos; y en un país libre en que éste amo es miembro de la Asamblea, o uno de los electores de tales miembros, el magistrado no se atreve a proteger al esclavo sino con mucha timidez y precaución, determinando estos respetos, que suele verse obligado a guardar, que aquella protección sea tibia y a veces absolutamente desatendida”.

Esta interpretación del Estado de derecho habilita la idea de la gracia, en tanto eximición del cumplimiento de la ley en favor del “No matarás” antes que del “No robarás”, ya que la vida “del sujeto viviente como sujeto necesitado”, es anterior y superior a la propiedad privada y el sistema legal que de eso deriva como su garantía inviolable. Si la necesidad se rebela frente a la ley ante la amenaza de muerte violenta por parte del Estado, eso no significa que entra en contradicción con ella sino que -según Hinkelammert-, va más allá de ella cuando está en juego la vida misma. Así lo vio Sófocles en Antígona, y Shakespeare en El mercader de Venecia.

Según la ley de Abraham… dicen y ejecutan. Esta es la interpretación bíblica, a mi juicio, que hace el teólogo alemán, al afirmar que Abraham se liberó frente a la ley cuando se dio cuenta que la ley le exigía un asesinato. Abraham no mata a su hijo porque se dio cuenta que la libertad está en “No matar”.

La ley miente cuando se autoproclama al servicio de la justicia y la libertad y entonces mata. La muerte nunca es la verdad. La verdad es la vida, sostiene Hinkelammert. Me pregunto entonces: ¿Se puede, en nombre de la libertad institucional, sacrificar la libertad del anuncio de la vida buena y en abundancia para todos?

Jesús no fundamenta la Iglesia: ni en la ley positiva, ni en ley moral. Por el contrario, la fundamenta en el amor, y esa es razón suficiente para un cristiano en cuanto a actuar misericordiosamente, haciendo actos de gracia frente a la ley, cumpliendo con lo que reza en el Padre Nuestro: “perdona nuestras deudas como nosotros perdonamos a nuestros deudores” -aunque el Padre Nuestro en la actualidad ha sido modificado, y el concepto de “deuda” fue reemplazado por el de “ofensa”. Jesús no pregunta a Pedro si cumple la ley; le pregunta tres veces: “Tú me amas?” 

La afirmación de la vida pasa por no matar. Toda ley que lleve a la muerte a un sujeto vulnerable, empujándolo al delito o habilitando la adicción, es una ley que mata -es el caso de la ley que habilita los juegos de azar on line involucrando con eso a menores. “Eso es el realismo según el evangelio de Juan que difiere del realismo político de los adversarios de Jesús, en el cual se afirma la vida matando al otro”. Justificar una ley diciendo que una práctica que mata ya está instalada en los usos y costumbres son malas razones, sobre todo cuando el resultado de esa ley mata. Eso no es una justificación sino una falsa explicación por la cual la ley invierte la verdad, además de un desconocimiento de la función pedagógica de la norma y de la ley misma.

 Generar situaciones para la muerte, argumentando que es en favor de la vida, desata una lógica de la muerte. Luego, quienes obedientemente entran en esa lógica de la muerte son criminalizados. “No matar no es un mandamiento ético, es lo que constituye la humanidad y fundamenta la ética. El legalismo es sacrificial. Exige sacrificios humanos”.

Un imperio se basa sobre buenas razones para matar, según Hinkelammert. Muchos crímenes se cometen cumpliendo la ley. A Jesús se lo mata por "buenas razones", en el cumplimiento de la ley -es la tesis central del libro del teólogo alemán de la liberación. Jesús es condenado en nombre de la ley. La ley, en su caso, se aplica justamente -en términos jurídicos y legalistas. “Con su muerte se cumple la ley, por eso es un escándalo, porque un inocente muere por una ley que es ley de Dios y, por tanto, ley de leyes. Por el contrario, en el caso de la muerte de Sócrates, los jueces tergiversan la interpretación de ley; no es la ley la que lo condena, sino los malos jueces que abusan de la ley”.

El Estado de derecho es un dios que reclama: conversión a su ley, y fe en su justicia. Las personas, y los pueblos, son capaces de dar la vida en cumplimiento de ley. Los miserables de Víctor Hugo, es un buen ejemplo de eso, donde el policía pierde su vida tratando de condenar a quien, por necesidad, había tomado un pedazo insignificante de pan, lo cual -fuera de contexto y de toda sensibilidad-, era un delito, convirtiendo al necesitado en criminal. “El Judas del evangelio de Juan es un convertido a la ley”, por eso está convencido de que lo que hace es bueno, y por eso mismo juzga que Jesús merece la muerte. “En el evangelio de Juan, Judas no recibe ninguna recompensa por su colaboración con la ley; solo actúa por convicción”. El pueblo -en tanto parte excluida de la renta acumulada escandalosamente a costa de su vida-, tampoco actúa por dinero sino por conversión al dios dinero. En América Latina, no reclama la rentabilidad que le pertenece. Solo pide que se cumpla ley por la cual se debe dar al Cesar lo que es del Cesar, y así dan su vota a candidatos que no los representan. El giro a la derecha de los pueblos empobrecidos de América Latina -según lo muestran las últimas elecciones presidenciales, tanto como las apuestas, no da cuenta de la de codicia en los de abajo, sino de su fe en el Enemigo.

Quien se convierte al imperio del dios dinero, no mira la realidad desde el punto de vista de los explotados y oprimidos, sino a partir de la ley del Uno indiviso pero divisor, es decir que no es simbólico en tanto unión en la diferencia -como pide el Papa Francisco-, sino diabólico. Por eso dice Pablo que, quien busca su salvación en el cumplimiento de la ley, encuentra la muerte.

Finalmente, si no se cumple con ciertas leyes, como dijo Platón, ni la banda de ladrones no puede funcionar. Eso esta pasando en nuestro continente.


Australia's Plenary Council 2020: Discerning God's Voice in the 21st Century

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

In October 2020, representatives of the Australian Church will gather for the first Plenary Council since Vatican II.  Since the Council was announced in 2017, there has been high expectation that it would be an opportunity for renewal of the Australian Church.  Many expect that  the voices of the lay faithful – particularly the voices of women – are heard, and the experiences of those marginalized in the Church are acknowledged as the Church discerns its way into the 21st century. 

Over the 10-month period that ended on March 13 this year, more than 220,000 people participated in the ‘Listening and Dialogue’ process in parishes, schools, Catholic agencies and associations around the country.  A total of 17,457 submissions were made during that first stage of preparation for the Plenary Council. 

The topics discussed in the submissions include

-       Faith formation of youth,

-       More engagement with younger generations

-       Greater focus on marriage and the family

-       A more welcoming and non-judgmental Church

-       Inclusion for people with disabilities

-       Catholic voice on social justice issues

-       Care for the environment

-       Shared responsibility between clergy and laity

-       Greater role of women in the Church

-       Evangelisation within the Catholic community and beyond

-       Ordination of women.

-       Ordination of married men

Among suggestions for a more welcoming Church, respondents recommended the inclusion of  divorced and remarried Catholics, and to end the discrimination of LGBTQ people in the Church.  Against the backdrop of the five-year Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the respondents also called for the end of clericalism, more transparency and accountability regarding clergy sexual abuse, greater concerns for survivors of clergy sexual abuse, and suggested new leadership and governance model.

The submissions were analysed and grouped into categories by the National Centre for Pastoral Research.  Six National Themes for Discernment were released in early June this year to facilitate the discernment process in this second stage of preparation.  Australian Catholics are invited to discern on the question: How is God calling us to be a Christ-centred Church that is:

1.         Missionary and evangelising

2.         Inclusive, participatory and synodal

3.         Prayerful and Eucharistic

4.         Humble, healing and merciful

5.         A joyful, hope-filled and servant community

6.         Open to conversion, renewal and reform

There is strong resonance between these themes and Pope Francis’ views of Church governance and mission, which he himself embodies in his own style of leadership. 

The Australian Church has been rocked by the sexual abuse scandal, the findings of the Royal Commission, and the recent conviction of Cardinal George Pell to six years imprisonment for the alleged sexual abuse of two choirboys in 1996.  The cardinal remains in jail pending the ruling on his appeal. The appeal took place in early June. 

The first session of the Plenary Council will take place in Adelaide, South Australia, in October 2020. In May 2021, a second session will be held in Sydney, the venue of the 1936 Plenary Council.  The final numbers of people attending the Council are yet to be determined, but it is expected there will be approximately 300 delegates.

Jack de Groot, CEO of St. Vincent de Paul in New South Wales and chairman of the Implementation Advisory Group to Australian bishops and religious on sex abuse, told Catholic News Service that the Plenary Council will have credibility only if laypeople get to vote on its recommendations, and that they have at least half the vote.

Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, Plenary Council president points to the importance of discernment in this stage of preparation for the Council.  "Discernment is a term that we hear quite often these days, and practising discernment in our communities and in our preparation toward the Plenary Council will help to ensure we are listening to God, listening to each other and considering our path forward as the people of God in Australia,"

Frank Brennan SJ, CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia wrote in an article for Eureka Street, ‘If the plenary council is to be a success, the deliberative votes of the bishops legislating new laws for the Australian church in 2021 or at some assembly thereafter will be seen to be the hierarchical endorsement of the sensus fidelium expressed with hope and joy in 2020 and 2021.’

According to St Ignatius Loyola, true discernment requires freedom of spirit.  Freedom to listen.  Freedom to allow change.  Freedom to welcome the unfamiliar.  Freedom to let go, even of one’s certitude. 

The people of God are speaking.  May we have the heart to discern God’s voice amidst the voices of God’s faithful.  The ultimate success of the Council is dependent on it.

Key words: Plenary Council 2020, Australian Catholic Church

Civil Protests and Theological Ethics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whose Dignity?: Abolishing Child Marriage for the Girl Child

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

Key words: child marriage, child bride, girlfriend theology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

El Bolsonarismo, una teopolítica fundamentalista neoliberal

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

Keywords: Politics, religious and economic fundamentalism, Bolsonarism.

1. Fundamentalismo económico y el fundamentalismo religioso

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

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

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

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

2. Bolsonarismo

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

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

3. Populismo digital y redes sociales bolsonaristas

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

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


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

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

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

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