April the FIRST (2013)

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April 2013
Welcome to the FIRST

From the desk of the editor

Dear Friends,

We want to invite you, if you have written anything on Pope Francis to submit it to us for posting. Already on the website we have a number of essays on the new pope that you can find.  You can get to them simply by going to the CTEWC homepage (http://www.catholicethics.com/) and scrolling down to the “Latest News.”

Second, if anyone wants to apply this year (July 2013 to July 2014) for the 8 month-long BC-CTEWC Post-Doctoral Fellowship, please write to me. The description of the Fellowship can be found under “Top Stories” on the homepage (http://www.catholicethics.com/). At present we are only considering those who have had their doctoral studies funded by CTEWC.

Finally enjoy the read of this issue of THE FIRST.   It’s packed: 5 articles in the Forum plus two more perspectives in the African Report. It’s practically a monthly journal!

In short, please go to the website... explore it, read a Forum piece and send a reply, find out what others are reflecting on, writing about or organizing.           

We have more and more people engaging the website.           

Why don’t you come too! I hope you find it engaging. 

All the best at Eastertime,

Asian Regional Report 
Trento Book Philippine Edition Released

The Philippine edition of the book Catholic Theological Ethics Past, Present and Future: The Trento Conference, edited by James Keenan, was released last February by the Ateneo de Manila University Press.

Philippines Redemptorists’ to hold Conference on A Liberating Celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation

The St. Alphonsus Theological and Mission Institute, in cooperation with the Redemptorist Province of Cebu and the Vice Province of Manila will be holding a conference on April 15 to 18, 2013, in Redemptorist Retreat Center (Cebu City). It will be repeated on April 22 to 25, 2013, in St. Scholastica Retreat House (Tagaytay City).

The theme of the conference is: A Liberating Celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation: Bridging the Gaps in Contemporary Theology, Canon Law and Spirituality. It aims to critically review the relationship between moral theology and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The program and its speakers are listed below:

First Day Renewed Understanding of Moral Life by Bernard Teo, C.Ss.R. Moral Theology as the Art of Pastoral Compassion by Brian Johnstone, C.Ss.R. 

Second Day New Developments in the Understanding of Sin and its Impact on the Sacrament of Reconciliation by Brian Johnstone, C.Ss.R. Critical Questions in Sacramentology regarding Reconciliation by Victorino Cueto, C.Ss.R Canon Law and Pastoral Intent and the Sacrament of Reconciliation by Sean Cannon, C.Ss.R.

Third Day Human Sexuality: A Gift, a Call, and a Responsibility by Bernard Teo, C.Ss.R. Delicta graviora in the Church and Canon Law by Sean Cannon, C.Ss.R. Psycho-Pathology of Sexual Abuse by Noel Deslate

Fourth Day Re-interpreting the Alphonsian Tradition regarding the Sacrament of Reconciliation Today by Brian Johnstone, C.Ss.R. Moral Formation and the Sacrament of Reconciliation by Bernard Teo, C.Ss.R. Moral Life and Spirituality – Moral Theology as the Art of Pastoral Compassion by Brian Johnstone, C.Ss.R.

--Lúcás Chan Yiu Sing, Regional Chair

African Regional Report

My name is Margaret Ssebunya from Kampala-Uganda. I am one of the beneficiaries of the CTEWC scholarship. I have finalized my Masters course in Ethics and Public Management (MA EPM) from Makerere University, Kampala. I must say that I am very grateful for the scholarship because it has availed me of the opportunity to study my Masters in a short time without going through the many financial problems associated with undertaking a Master’s project. I am looking forward to similar support as I pursue my PhD studies.

I enrolled for this course in August 2009 and was among the 35 students who were admitted. However, by the end of the first semester in December 2009, only 7 of us were able to sit for the examinations. At the end of the two years, 3 students were able to submit and defend their dissertations successfully and I am one of those. Many students dropped out of the course because of financial constraints. I therefore applaud my benefactors for the support given to me because if it weren’t for their support, I would probably have dropped out of the course too.

This course has not only prepared me for the PhD which I am about to pursue in Applied Ethics but it has also connected me with resourceful people who have enabled me to acquire more knowledge to apply while addressing some of the moral issues affecting Ugandan society. One of the key issues which is facing Ugandan society, and to which I feel obliged to contribute as an ethicist, is ending corruption. The 2011 Transparency International report on corruption perception ranks Uganda among the most corrupt countries in the world. In Uganda, it is the vulnerable and marginalized – women, children and minority groups who often suffer the harshest consequences of corruption. As an ethicist, I strongly believe that the fight against corruption is central to the struggle for human rights.

For my PhD thesis, I am going to focus on “Gender, Corruption and Human Rights: Examining the Human Rights approach in fighting corruption in Uganda”. I hope that my studies will further motivate and facilitate my service and desire to glorify God and lead other souls to God. Together with anti- corruption activists, I hope to become a voice of the voiceless by challenging individuals involved in corruption scandals in the country. Only then can we see proper utilization of resources and contribution towards the common good.

I have been engaged in work with some women’s organizations in Uganda. This has enabled me speak out for the women, especially those in rural areas, and also build their capacities by empowering them to demand better services from their leaders. This is partly attributed to the skills gained through my Masters course i.e. to speak confidently about issues affecting society. This has seen remarkable improvement in some areas as people have been able to engage their leaders and demand for accountability. As such, leaders have become more responsive in addressing the people’s concerns. I therefore intend to continue working with the local community in some of the rural areas of Uganda.

For every success attained, there are always challenges encountered, as it is often not a smooth path. While at Makerere, I have faced a number of challenges, among which these are worth noting:

  1. Strikes by both students and lecturers disrupting peace at the institution. For the two years I have been at MUK, there have been strikes at least once every semester. In such times especially during the course work year, my colleagues and I would organize to have lectures outside the university. This was burdensome but we had to do it so that we do not miss any lectures.
  2. Delays have also affected me in many aspects. First, there were delays in assigning me a supervisor for my research. Secondly, marking the dissertation was delayed as it took almost a year before I was called upon to defend the dissertation. I submitted my dissertation for marking in mid-January 2012 but was called for the viva in mid-December 2012. This was the most challenging part of my course as I missed graduation early this year. Thirdly, delays in processing my transcript which has not yet been issued to me. This has delayed my enrolling for a PhD.

Nonetheless, even amidst the above challenges, I have always kept a positive, open attitude and realistic overview of what I am to accomplish. This is what has kept me going and I am thankful to God for the achievements so far. I continue praying for my CTEWC benefactors and thank them for the program of training women theological ethicists in Africa.

Thumbs up for you ladies and Gentlemen!!!!
Opportunities for Studies in South Africa and future Service to Church

Sr. Anne Achieng

There are several opportunities for an African woman to study here in South Africa (SA). First, they have well laid down strategies for the selection of students. There must be a supervisor ready to handle your topic and journey with you along your programme. The student-supervisor relationship makes learning a rewarding experience and encourages individual students to have healthy interaction with the faculty. Lecturers and the supervisors are committed to advance the programs, unlike in most parts of the continent where PhD and to a large extent Master’s programme are intentionally delayed by lecturers for reasons known only to themselves. There is weekly monitoring of students’ research progress enabling rapport and gravity of the research.

Secondly, students studying in SA are exposed to an environment where they can refresh their knowledge of the latest technological advances. The universities have modern learning facilities as they pride themselves on being at the forefront of technology, research and techniques, and in making the best possible equipment and resources available to their students. Students have opportunities to become skilled in using the latest technology to conduct research, as well as to obtain and process information. They also stay connected with researchers, teachers and experts in their field all over the world through video conferencing and exchanges. The 24 hour internet access both at campus and at the residences is a great help in accessing online journals and articles that the universities have subscribed to, thus making research more interesting in terms of current thoughts and arguments.

This is preparing me to faithfully meet the church’s’ mission of evangelization in these heightened times of demand for ethical stewardship and accountability in the digital age. The world is being reborn all the time in terms of technology and Christians must be reborn each time in it with the Good News of Christ for its continuity and significance. Consequently, the quality of education here is ranked among the best world class institutions. Studying in South Africa is a rewarding experience, but traversing the daily issues can be a challenge. The university international student office is a great help in the information, transition and in adapting to a culturally and academically different environment.

Visa and study permits to South Africa are easier to obtain than other states. The fee for a PhD and insurance is cheaper than most universities in Africa. However, the accommodation fee and cost of living are higher. Another disadvantage is that this university only has graduation ceremonies in April each year. The problem with this is that students completing in the month of May have to wait until April of the subsequent year to graduate as well as pay the registration fee for the computers to identify them. Since the programs are self-accelerated by the systems put in place, in the end it is cheaper to study here than in other parts of Africa where the programs are delayed for six to ten years. If time is money for an economist, then time for Gods’ service is paramount. I am motivated to complete my course in time and working towards the same.

Other opportunities include the diversity of cultures and traditions from students and staff admitted from all over the world, making it an intercultural center. We learn more than just academic theory but also develop independence and confidence from the informal factors that enhance education and learning such as co-curriculum activities, the cultural days and the university life. From this multicultural identity, I have found that in many ways women share a common language. I am able to interact with women and share our predicaments and joys in a world that still looks down upon us. Rape of women in South Africa is frequent. No matter what our culture, no matter what our background, we can understand each other. The networking is already great. I am grateful to the scholarship. It is a fact that empowering women through education is an indispensable tool for advancing ethical voices in decision-making about societal priorities and directions.

CTEWC Forum: Mexico, Kenya, DRC, USA and Philippines

Please read and comment on the forum essays for this month by clicking on each title.

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

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