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Welcome to the FIRST
The newsletter of Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church (CTEWC)
James Keenan S.J. - Editor
Jillian Maxey - Layout
From the desk of the editor
We are gearing up for our meeting in March with the big plans which we sent you on January First. At the end of this letter you can see again our “Plans for the Future.” Right now, we need YOUR HELP with IDEAS.
Let me remind you, that for each event, we have a program organizer, so you can write to that person with your ideas.
Clearly the biggest project on the horizon is in Nairobi in August, 2012: the expert seminar: “CTEWC in Africa After Trento: Engaging the African Synod.” That will be our first Pan-African Regional Conference! Down below you can see our plans for Nairobi; you can also see more in the African Report by Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator at firstname.lastname@example.org. We expect the Nairobi Project to serve as a model for the other two continental conferences on the horizon.
First we are planning for the Pan Asian Conference in 2014. If you have ideas for that conference, contact the Project Coordinator: Lúcás Chan Yiu Sing at email@example.com.
In 2016 we hope to hold the Pan-Latin America Conference. If you have ideas for that conference, contact the Project Coordinator: MT Davila at MTDavila@ants.edu.
I can tell you that Orobator, Lucas, and MT have all been getting emails for their respective projects! Send more ideas... Our March meeting will be all the better!
Europeans! Those of you from Europe, please see below our plans for Berlin in 2013. The Project Coordinator is Antonio Autiero at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, by 2018, we expect that the six volumes of our book series will be published and that we will have had regional conferences around the world. Does anyone have any suggestions for what we should do in 2018? Let me know at my email address.
About this issue.... A few items.
First, with this issue, we start introducing you to the African women in the CTEWC scholarship program. See our first profile on Sr. Ojo Bolanle Bimbo.
Also, in the African report, see the news that Veronica Rop received word that her Doctoral Dissertation Proposal was approved. This is the first of the African women in the scholarship program to begin writing her dissertation. Congratulations, Veronica!
Also in the Forum, we welcome a contribution from Tom Massaro on the “Occupy” movement. If you would like to contribute a 500-750 word piece from your local context for universal readers, please submit them to me via email for consideration.
Ronaldo Zaccharias is being made Rector of UNISAL (The Salesian University in Sao Paolo). Congratulations, Ronaldo!
See the pictures from the EWA Skype Conference on the website (http://catholicethics.com/ewaskype2011)
Plans for the Future
March 15-18, 2012
Planning Committee Meeting
Place: Boston College
Project Organizer: Jim Keenan
Email contact: James.email@example.com
August 21-23, 2012
Pan-Africa Regional Conference
Project Organizer: Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator
Email Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
We have organized the next regional conference in the form of an expert seminar in Nairobi on August 21-22, 2012. The theme of the seminar is “CTEWC in Africa After Trento: Engaging the African Synod.” It will be held at Hekima College Jesuit School of Theology and Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations, Nairobi, Kenya. Invitations have gone out to presenters, respondents and participants.
Approximately 40 people are expected to participate, mostly from Africa. Also, the seven recipients of CTEWC scholarship for the advanced training of African women in theological ethics have been invited to attend the seminar. Following the seminar, on 23 August 2012, CTEWC will sponsor a public lecture on feminism in Africa and the world church and ecological sustainability. This lecture will take place at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Nairobi.
On August 24- 25, the entire Planning Committee will meet in Nairobi.
Later in the year, MT Davila and Jim Keenan will travel to Latin America to begin plans for regional conferencing and scholarships in Latin America.
Summer Planning Committee Meets in Europe
Project Coordinator: Antonio Autiero
Email Contact: email@example.com
In Berlin, we hope to meet with the European members of the Padua and Trento Planning committees, the European members of the CTEWC Development Committee, the Eastern European Regional Committee, and the leaders of the European Society of Catholic Theology.
Among other matters, we hope to strategize about scholarships for PhD students of Catholic Theological Ethics in Eastern Europe.
Any ideas for this meeting may be sent to Antonio.
Book Launch: Feminist Catholic Theological Ethics: Conversations in the World Church, editors: Linda Hogan (Ireland) and Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator (Nigeria/Kenya).
Summer Pan-Asian Regional Conference
Project Coordinator: Lúcás Chan Yiu Sing
Email Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2008, Agnes Brazal and Eric Genilo hosted a very successful East-Asian Regional Conference in Manila. In 2014, we hope to host a Pan-Asian Conference with its format and scope to be like the conference presently being prepared in Nairobi. The Asian CTEWC Regional Committee is very active and we hope that Lúcás along with Agnes, Clement, Eric, Shaji, and Sharon can begin strategizing for this event for the summer of 2014.
Any proposals or suggestions, contact Lúcás
Book Launch: Just Sustainability: Technology, Ecology, and Resource Extraction, editors: Christiana Peppard (US) and Andrea Vicini (Italy), publication date, 2014.
Planning Committee has its annual meeting
Book Launch: The Local Church and the Place of the Catholic Ethicist, editors: Antonio Autiero (Germany) and Laurenti Magesa (Kenya), publication date 2015.
Summer Pan-Latin America Regional Conference
Project Coordinator: MT Davila Email Contact: MTDavila@ants.edu
MT will be launching discussions about this event in January 2012. Any proposals or suggestions should be sent to MT.
Book Launch: Catholic Theological Ethics on the Migrations of Peoples: Living with(out) Borders , editors: Agnes Brazal (Philippines) and MT Davila (Puerto Rico), publication date 2016.
Planning Committee has its annual meeting
Book Launch: The Bible and Catholic Theological Ethics, editors: Lucas Chan Yiu Sing (Hong Kong) and Ronaldo Zacharias (Brazil), publication date 2017.
Any suggestions for 2018?
Contact me: email@example.com
Meet Sr Ojo Bolanle Bimbo
Member of the CTEWC Scholarship Programme for African Women
My name is Sr. Ojo Bolanle Bimbo Anthonia. I am a professed member of an indigenous congregation of women in Nigeria, known as Sisters of Saint Michael the Archangel, founded by Bishop Michael Fagun in 1986. I had my religious formation in the congregation between 1991 and 1994, and made my first and final profession in the same congregation in 1994 and 2000 respectively.
I completed my BA in Theology with a long essay titled: “Christian Family and Moral Formation of Youth in Ekiti Diocese”, in which I argued the point that to have a morally sound society, the Christian family should be more involved in the holistic formation of children. In my MA thesis titled, “Electronic Media and Moral of Youth in Ekiti State in the Light of Ethics in Communication 16”, I explored how the youth in the present media age are influenced negatively through unmonitored access to the negative contents of the media. I made recommendations on how to remedy this situation. Thanks to the CTEWC scholarship for the advanced training of African women in theological ethics, I am currently enrolled in a PhD programme at the Catholic Institute of West Africa in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. I hope to carry out research in moral theology in regard to human dignity that is currently being disrespected and trampled upon in Nigerian society.
I am motivated by the desire to serve God in the world, particularly by contributing to the liberation of African girls and women from oppressive situations that society subjects them to. More so, as a religious in a developing nation, I am motivated to seek further knowledge in order to make positive contributions towards upholding the dignity of all human beings.
As a recipient of CTEWC scholarship, I would like to strive to uphold the dignity of women in Nigeria, in particular, and Africa, in general, where women are still regarded as second class citizens. This situation has retarded the ultimate realization of their potentials in building and developing themselves and the nation as a whole. This hindrance must be overcome in order to enlighten women and empower them to rise up to this challenge and fight for their liberation.
This is the first profile in a series. We will feature a different scholar from the program in each newsletter.
CTEWC FORUM: USA, India, South Africa
Labor Justice in Catholic Social Thought and the Occupy Movement
Pope John Paul II began his 1981 encyclical letter Laborem Exercens (On Human Work) with the stunning claim that “work as a human issue is at the very center of the ‘social question.’” This pope who had held some interesting jobs himself during his lifetime (factory hand, actor, mineworker) reminded his readers that “the Church considers it her task always to call attention to the dignity and rights of those who work, to condemn situations in which that dignity and those rights are violated, and to help to guide changes so as to ensure authentic progress by man [sic] and society.”
In many ways, the agenda of the Occupy movement reflects this same set of concerns. As diffuse and disputed as its agenda may be, the Occupy movement has called unprecedented attention to the great imbalances in power and material outcome experienced by Americans today. One could quibble with the movement’s tactics and demands or even with its math (that overly simplistic motif of the 99% and the 1%), but you would have to possess a very large blind spot indeed not to notice the ambient social inequities surrounding us today.
At the very root of many of these disparities and inequities is human work. One need not subscribe to a crass Marxism to recognize that work arrangements do indeed determine the life prospects for just about all of us. The way that labor is divided, distributed and remunerated makes a huge difference in promoting or frustrating the attainment of social justice.
On both the individual and societal levels, so many of our deepest concerns are closely related to labor. The struggle against unemployment, our aspirations for adequate income and a decent standard of living, the opportunity to spend a third of our waking hours in a dignified and rewarding environment—all pivot upon fair and just labor practices. The Occupy movement demonstrates a keen sensitivity to these realities, and Catholic social thought has been promulgating this message for over a century.
Because they are people-oriented rather than materialistic, both Catholic social teaching and the Occupy movement challenge the tenets of a market fundamentalism that throws up its hands when workers press for greater protections than the laws of supply and demand alone might yield. It has been two hundred years since Thomas Malthus articulated the “iron law of wages,” a supposedly objective truth of the universe which sentences the working classes to a perilous life of bare subsistence and interminable misery (and that is for the lucky ones among us who do not starve for lack of employment). No matter what the “dismal science” of economics might tell us, work must never be reduced to a mere commodity, an object to be bought and sold without regard for the human dimension. Every human who performs labor is to be treated as a subject, a being of inestimable worth. This is precisely what our contemporary economy is not doing, and why it invites rebuke and demands correction from pro-labor religious and humanist voices alike. Hard-working people deserve security and dignity; it is hard to imagine a healthy society without a rich array of worker protections.
Arguments emanating from theological as well as secular bases for social concern readily converge on many observations about labor justice. Among them is how serious a betrayal of public trust it is for corporations to treat workers so badly and for government to afford workers so little protection. It is encouraging to see the push-back against state governments like Wisconsin and Ohio that have attempted to strip public-sector workers of collective bargaining and other long-recognized rights, but observers of labor relations know that the grand arc of the labor movement has been swinging downward for decades.
For over a century, Catholic teaching on the economy has championed such pro-worker measures as a living wage as a moral minimum owed to workers. In ways explicit and implicit, the Occupy movement is now echoing this imperative, as part of its message advocating equity and economic security for the non-elite. Violations of the dignity and rights of workers are not just background conditions that all of us should get used to. They are deep social problems, about which something serious must be done. One noble response is to write eloquent encyclical letters about social justice. But for those of us who are not popes, taking to the streets and lifting our voices for worker justice is a fine place to start. The Occupy protesters have been evicted from their encampments or otherwise quieted in most locations for the time being, but neither aggressive police tactics nor harsh winter weather will be able to silence the perennial concerns about worker justice that they raise.
Thomas Massaro, SJ teaches social ethics at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.
Over an Ageing Dam
The people of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, two South Indian States, are divided over the issue of a dam named Mullaperiyar. Mullaperiyar is a masonry gravity dam on the Periyar River, located 881 m above the sea level in Thekkady, Idukki district of Kerala. It was constructed by the British Government (1887-1895) to divert water to Tamil Nadu; is 53.6 m high and 365.7 m long. The dam and the river are located in and owned by Kerala, but controlled and operated by Tamil Nadu, under a lease agreement for 999 years. The control and safety of the dam and the validity of the lease agreement have been controversial. The controversies heated up following the Morvi dam disaster in 1979 which killed over 25,000 people. In the recent years the concern over the safety of the dam has been intensified by earthquakes in the dam area. Kerala demands the construction of a new dam, pointing out that the dam is seriously damaged and will not withstand an earthquake measuring even 5 on the Richter scale, and that a dam failure will wipe away 3 districts in Kerala completely, and 2 other districts partially, killing millions of people. Tamil Nadu argues that the dam is strong, no new dam is needed, and that Kerala is trying only to have control over water by proposing a new dam.
In the last few months the conflicts between people of the two states have gone out of control. Tamilians were attacked in Kerala. Keralites in Tamil Nadu have been attacked; their property was looted. The tension still continues. The main reason for the present development is the political game – political parties in both states try to exploit the situation by instigating people, to show that they stand for the best interest of the people. In the political game, the real issues of the security and safety of the people, the needs of both the states, etc, are pushed into the background.
I am originally from Kerala; I do not want to give any opinion on the issue. I would rather give two observations.
Politicization/over-politicization of any issue is becoming the trademark of democracy (at least in countries like India!). Often the media too are utilized by the interested parties. Any issue is made sensational by the politicians, and often it is impossible to understand where the truth is. Mullaperiyar dam issue is just one; hundreds of such issues can be pointed out from India alone. The success of democracy depends on the ability of the people – not only a few, but of all – to critically discern and decide. Otherwise people become puppets in the hands of unscrupulous and selfish politicians. What do we do to enhance critical awareness in the people in a democratic system?
Christians in India are a minority. But, in Kerala the Church is very strong; Christian presence in Tamil Nadu also is significant. But, so far the Church in Tamil Nadu and Kerala haven’t taken any decisive steps to solve this issue in an amicable manner. This is yet another example where the Church dissociates itself from or keeps silence on issues of vital importance for national and social life. Unless the policies and laws interfere with the administration and the properties of the Church, often the Church is a passive spectator. In the Mullaperiyar dam issue, the spokesperson of the Church in Kerala said that the Church would try to propose a solution in collaboration with the Church in Tamil Nadu, but no decisive steps have been taken so far. Shouldn’t the Church get more actively involved in issues of national and social importance?
Shaji George Kochuthara, CMI (firstname.lastname@example.org) teaches moral theology at Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram (DVK) (Pontifical Athenaeum of Theology, Philosophy and Canon Law), Bangalore, India. He has published The Concept of Sexual Pleasure in the Catholic Moral Tradition (Roma: Pontificia Università Gregoriana, 2007) and a few articles. He is the editor-in-chief of Asian Horizons: Dharmaram Journal of Theology and the Chairperson of the Institutional Ethical Review Board of St. John's Medical College, Bangalore.
People Power: Take control of your energy
On 31 January South Africans read that in six years’ time the coal supply will be insufficient to meet the country’s needs for the generation of electricity. This is not because we don’t have enough coal. Nor is it because the coal is of the wrong grade to run power stations. Nor is it because we are not mining it fast enough. Rather, it is because mining companies make greater profit selling our coal to Asian customers than on the local market.
In a country dependent on coal for 75% of its energy needs, the national electricity parastatal, Eskom, has warned that this insecurity of the supply of coal is one more factor in South Africa’s precarious energy future. With increasing demand for electricity for industrial and residential use, and a maintenance backlog that places the running of power stations under increasing strain, consumers have been warned to expect rolling blackouts as load-shedding is put in operation. We are grateful to the men and women who are dedicated to keeping the lights on all over the country, and who do all they can to prevent blackouts. It is often a very challenging task. But there is only so much they can do with aging infrastructure and limited capacity.
Returning to the question of the supply of coal for the power stations. With fewer than ten big players in the field, of which a number are multinationals concerned mainly with the bottom line of profit, it is clear that national energy interests don’t always receive first priority. The (November 2011) National Development Plan of the National Planning Commission dreams of “balancing domestic coal supply security with growth in exports.” It is diffcult to see how this can be done if profit-making is the only driving force. The plan recognises that coal reserves in the central basin of the country are diminishing, and that major infrastructural investment is needed to open new reserves. But this requires the expenditure of energy – ironically using more coal. Are the multinationals prepared to pay to install the infrastructure from which they hope to benefit?
A more intelligent solution to this quandary is addressed in chapter five of the plan which talks of a transition to a low-carbon economy. This is a technical way of saying that we want to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. From the years of international sanctions to boycott the apartheid government, we even developed an industrial process to “crack” coal to produce oil, because our oil dependency is so great. Using non-carbon sources of energy, such as wind, solar and wave energy, the country would obviously be in a more secure position, and we will also be pumping fewer greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Among the worst offenders in Africa, South Africans should be serious about changing our fossil-fuel-dependent lifestyle. Other countries on the continent have a much smaller per-capita carbon footprint. Indeed some are among the lowest in the world. A few fortunate countries benefit from a wealth of hydroelectric power. Indeed, harnessing the hydroelectric potential of the mighty Congo River could conceivably provide the electricity needs for most of the subcontinent. This would cause major social upheaval because it would require the translocation of tens of thousands of people living in the river basin.
As the COP Summit in Durban in December 2011 demonstrated, we cannot wait for governments to agree or to legislate to mitigate climate change. Eskom has asked consumers to reduce their electricity consumption by 10% if the parastatal is to avoid the rolling blackouts which shook the country in 2008. But I believe we should go one step further. In the interests of the whole planet, we should reduce our use of all fossil fuels. This means that we reduce our electrical heating and lighting, certainly. But we also travel less, share vehicles, use smaller cars, install solar heating and electricity, try using wind generators, etc. These may all be less convenient, and initially more expensive, but in the long-term interests of our children and theirs, it is the only right thing to do. They are the first steps in a necessary new planetary ethic.
Peter Knox SJ is a member of the Jesuit Institute in South Africa (see www.jesuitinstitute.org.za ). He teaches systematic theology at St Augustine College in Johannesburg and St John Vianney Seminary in Pretoria. In 2008 he published AIDS, Ancestors and Salvation (Paulines: Nairobi), a reworking of his doctoral thesis. Peter’s email is email@example.com.
Letters to the Editor: Responses are posted at http://catholicethics.com/Forum
In order to promote some exchanges within the Forum, we invite you to send e- letters of up to 200 words in response to any of the already published pieces. Send letters to Jim Keenan, S.J. (firstname.lastname@example.org). Every month we will post those that we receive on the Forum page of catholicethics.com.
Regional Report: Africa
Veronica Rop received word that Doctoral Dissertation Proposal was approved on 23rd November 2011.
The topic is " Human Dignity: A Study on the Participation of Women in Integral Human Development among the Kalenjin in the Catholic Diocese of Eldoret."
1st Supervisor: Rev. Dr. Richard Rwiza; 2nd Supervisor: Rev. Prof. Constance Bansikiza.
This is the first of the African women in the scholarship program to begin writing her dissertation. Congratulations, Veronica!
Preparations are in full gear for the first CTEWC regional gathering in Africa. As previously announced, there will be an expert seminar on the theme “CTEWC in Africa After Trento: Engaging the African Synod”. The seminar will be held on Tuesday, 21 and Wednesday, 22 August, 2012, at Hekima College Jesuit School of Theology and Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations, Nairobi, Kenya.
Following the seminar, on 23 August 2012, CTEWC will sponsor a public lecture on feminism in Africa and the world church and ecological sustainability. This lecture will take place at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Nairobi.
Invitations have gone out to presenters, respondents and participants. Approximately 40 people are expected to participate, mostly from Africa. Also, the seven recipients of CTEWC scholarship for the advanced training of African women in theological ethics have been invited to attend the seminar.
The African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN) recently organized a 3-day symposium “Reflecting on 30 years of HIV and AIDS in Africa: Towards an Informed, Compassionate and Effective Response”. AJAN is the flagship coordinating body of the Jesuits in Africa and Madagascar in the area of HIV/AIDS. The symposium took place in Nairobi, Kenya. AJAN Director Paterne Mombe, SJ, convened this symposium. The symposium gathered leading intellectuals and practitioners from 18 countries within and outside Africa, including some from the network of Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church. Papers and responses focused on the church’s response in theory and practice, ethical issues, social and economic issues. Some specific topics included: access to care and treatment, human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, education, stigma, discrimination, gender, culture, and media. The symposium is a first stage toward the publication of a book on HIV/AIDS in Africa and the ethical and pastoral challenges and opportunities in church and society.
A. E. Orobator, SJ (Regional Chair)
Regional Report: Asia
Further updates on the New Doctoral Program offered by the St. Vincent School of Theology- Adamson University, Philippines:
The St. Vincent School of Theology (SVST) is offering a tuition fee scholarship for both locals and foreigners from developing countries for a Doctoral degree in Moral or Systematic Theology. Once accepted, foreign applicants who need further support for board and lodging can be endorsed by SVST to other funding sources. The deadline for scholarship application is March 31, 2012. If interested, please submit a letter of application to The Dean, St. Vincent School of Theology. Email:email@example.com
Upcoming Intercontinental Conversations
The Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology (DePaul University, US) and several theological institutions in the Philippines (DaKaTeo - Catholic Theological Society of the Philippines, Loyola School of Theology, St. Vincent School of Theology-Adamson University and the De la Salle University), are co-sponsoring a series of intercontinental conversation on February 23-25 on the following themes: “Ethics and Inter-religious Dialogue” (Charles Strain, Thomas O’Brien, Dominador Bombongan jr. and Ruben Mendoza); “Theology, Politics and the Church” (William Cavanaugh, Michael Budde and Dennis Gonzalez); and “Reforming the Reformed Liturgy: Reappraisal of Sacrosanctum Concilium on Liturgical Inculturation” (Peter Casarella, cm and Anscar Chupungco, OSB).
Lúcás Chan (Regional Chair)
Informe de América Latina:
Nos gustaría oir de colegas que participarán en el Congreso Continental de Teología, octubre de 2012, en Sao Leopoldo, Brazil. El Congreso celebra el 50 aniversario del comienzo del Concilio Vaticano II y los 40 años de la publicación del libro "Teología de la Liberación" del Padre Gustavo Gutierrez. Su página web oficial está en http://www.unisinos.br/eventos/congresso-de-teologia/
El Padre Leo Pessini, presidente de la Sociedad Brasilera de Teología Moral, anuncia la reunión de la sociedad este año, 16-19 de mayo, 2012. La página web oficial se encuentra en www.ethics2012.org.br. Este año la Sociedad estará participando de la 8ava Conferencia Internacional de Ética Clínica.
El Padre Gustavo Irrázabal anuncia la publicación del estudio sobre la ley natural, realizado en Trento en el 2010, y auspiciado por la Fundación Bruno Kessler. "Naturaleza, razón, persona" ¿una disyuntiva para la ley natural?" Annali di Studi Religiosi (12/2011) 139-169. ____________________________________________________________________________Report from Latin America:
We are eager to hear from colleagues who will participate in the Continental Congress of Theology, October 2012, Sao Leopoldo, Brazil. The Congress seeks to celebrate 50 years since Vatican II and 40 years of Gustavo Gutierrez's "A Theology of Liberation." The official website is http://www.unisinos.br/eventos/congresso-de-teologia/.
Fr. Leo Pessini, President of the Brazilian Society of Moral Theology, announces the next meeting of the Society, May 16-19, 2012. In this occasion the Society will be participating in the 8th International Conference in Clinical Ethics. The website for the meeting is www.ethics2012.org.br.
Fr. Gustavo Irrázabal shares the publication of his research on natural law undertaken in Trent in 2010, and sponsored by the Fundazione Bruno Kessler: "Naturaleza, razón, persona" ¿una disyuntiva para la ley natural?" Annali di Studi Religiosi (12/2011) 139-169.
MT Davila (Regional Chair)
New on the Website:
January letter and February newsletter
EWA Skype Session Reports with pictures:
Two New Calls for Papers in the Clearing House:
- In Sickness and in Health: Theology, Medicine, and Care for the Whole Person, October 1, 2012, Villanova University, Villanova, PA
- Environment and Sustainability, Asian Horizons, Dharmaram Journal of Theology, Vol. 6, No. 2, June 2012
December Forum Essays and New Responses
Five newly posted publications: Dagmang, Henriot, Hollenbach, Lintner