May THE FIRST (2013)

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May 2013 

Dear Friends,

I wish you a continued Happy Easter!

I want to thank you for your response for my call for essays on Pope Francis.  We got quite a number of responses and you can see on our website that we have essays from Argentina (of course!), Brazil, Mexico, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, and the US. Check out

If you have anything on VATICAN II and Theological Ethics, please send me that too.  We have started to collect on this theme and we have contributions from Ireland, India, and US.  Again, you can find them at:

But, if you have anything on Pope Francis or Vatican II, send it to me and it will be posted!

We also have in this issue our FORUM with a very fine collection of essays from South Africa, Japan and Canada!

Finally we have announcements from Asia and Latin America.

All the Best,

PS. I hope next month to name the First recipient of the BC/CTEWC Post-Doctorate Fellowship!!! Stay tuned!

News from Latin America


Emilce Cuda shares the following news: Publication - "Theology of the decision." Vida Pastoral 37, Año LIV (2013) 33-37. ISSN 1666-5120. Buenos Aires, Editorial San Pablo. She will begin the Seminar for Degree at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica Argentina, Faculty of Theology: Theology and Politics. First semester 2013. Emilce will also participate in the following conferences: Dublin /Ireland:"Catholics Irish influences on American democracy on 19th century looking at migrant workers, a view from Latin American theology," University College Dublin, Clinton Center, Second Annual Conference of ISASR, May 10-12 2013, and in London, "Theology of the people", Roehampton University, London / Digby Stuart Centre for Religious Studies, Society and Human Flourishing (DSRC) on May 15, 2013.


Ronaldo Zacharias reminds us of the upcoming Congress of Moral Theology, to be held in September in Sao Paulo:

CONGRESS OF MORAL THEOLOGY XXXVII SAO PAULO -02-05/09/13 Sao Camilo University Center- Campus Pompeia (Rua Raul Pompeia, 144 - Sao Paulo) MORAL THEOLOGY AND YOUTH reciprocal appeals

TOPICS Youth Culture appealing to Moral Theology Youth and Sexual Diversity Youth and Drugs Youth and Violence Youth and Virtual Social Networks Moral Theology and new generations: challenges and perspectives


Adelino Francisco de Oliveira (UCP - Braga / Portugal) Alexandre Andrade Martins (Boston College, USA)

Sun Eduardo Pinheiro da Silva (CNBB - President beauti Episcopal Pastoral da Juventude stops) James Nicholas Francis Alison (Imitatio - USA) José Antonio Trasferetti (PUC-Campinas)

Leo Pessini (São Camilo, São Paulo) Marcio Fabri dos Anjos (São Camilo, São Paulo) Maria Inês de Castro Millen (CES - Juiz de Fora) Marcelo Mário Coelho (Faculdade Dehoniana - Taubaté) Ribeiro Nile Youth ( UNICAP-Recife) Almeida Otavio Juliano (PUC-Minas Gerais) Ronaldo Zacharias (UNISAL-São Paulo) Rosana Manzini (PUC-SP - UNISAL) Ruy de Mathis (UNISAL-São Paulo) Ferreira Sonia Maria Koehler (UNISAL-Lorraine) Thiago Calçado (FAJOPA-Marília) William Siqueira Peres (UNESP, Assis)



Edwin Vazquez describes the Bioethics Congress that took place in Mexico: The IX Latin American and Caribbean Congress of Bioethics was held from April 17 to 21, in Guanajuato, Mexico. This beautiful colonial city, of deep cultural heritage for the human family, hosted this conference, which welcomed participants from 14 countries in the region. The first conference, "Bioethics and hermeneutics in decision-making", was given by Dr. Fernando Lolas, University of Chile. There were 3 panels, 7 roundtables and 16 communications sessions. The last lecture was given by Dr. Manuel Ruiz de Chavez, president of the National Bioethics Commission of Mexico, who made a presentation of the development of bioethics in Mexico and gave details of the next World Congress of Bioethics, to be held in Mexico City in June 2014. At the end of Congress Dr. Francisco Leon Correa, of the Catholic University of Chile, was re-elected as president of FELAIBE for a period of two years. The next conference will be in San Jose, Costa Rica in 2015. In attendance to April’s conference were Jesuit Jorge Ferrer (Puerto Rico) and Edwin Vasquez (Peru), members of the Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church network. 

Asian Regional Report

Intercontinental Symposium on Theology and Power

The DaKaTeo (Catholic Theological Society of the Philippines) and the ESCT (European Society of Catholic Theology) are collaborating on a joint symposium on “Theology and Power” on July 19-20, 2013 as part of their participation in three-year, global research project of INSeCT (International Network of Societies in Catholic Theology) on “the nature, function and location of theology, with particular attention to the power of theology to overcome power abuse in Church and Society.”

This joint symposium aims to specifically address the following questions:
1) What does the Judaeo-Christian tradition say about power - its abuse and its redemptive aspect?
2) How has the Church used its power and for whose interests? How has the Church dealt not only pastorally but also theologically with abuse of power both within the Church and society?
3) How can our way of doing theology be mutually empowering/stifling?

The joint symposium will be hosted by the Loyola School of Theology and the St Vincent School of Theology, both in Metro-Manila, Philippines. The results of this project will be presented at INSeCT’s global congress in Brazil in the summer of 2014.

Two New Publications (in French) from Marie-Jo Thiel 

Au nom de la dignité de l'être humain

Marie-Jo Thiel Paris, Ed. Bayard. Paru le : 28/03/2013

Face au pouvoir biomédical, aux nouvelles technologies, que peut-il rester d'une permanence de l'être humain ? Quelle dignité préserver dans la maladie, la souffrance ? Quelles sont les définitions juridiques de la dignité humaine ? La dignité, 'exigence plus vieille que toute formulation philosophie' selon Paul Ricœur, convoque les notions de décence, de reconnaissance, de démaîtrise... Et interroge la tentation de s'ériger en maître de la vie et d'imposer par exemples des remèdes, des technologies.

L'auteur propose un essai concis, à partir d'exemples concrets, pour nous aider à construire une position éthique face à la souffrance humaine. Son expérience de médecin, de chercheur, de conseil politique lui donne une grande autorité. Elle s'interroge également sur l'apport de la foi et de la théologie chrétienne au concept de dignité.

Faites que je meure vivant ! - Vieillir, mourir, vivre Marie-Jo Thiel

Paris, Ed. Bayard. Paru le : 28/03/2013 Le vieillissement préoccupe, le formidable allongement de l’espérance de vie pose de nombreuses questions de santé, de société, de vivre ensemble, d’accompagnement... mais la vieillesse pose aussi des questions de reconnaissance de l’autre, de soi. L’auteur dresse le constat et s’interroge : sait- on vieillir ? quels sont les défis éthiques que pose la vieillesse aujourd’hui ? Comment bien vieillir et avancer dans sa vie malgré la faiblesse, la maladie, la dépendance l’approche de la mort ? Elle aborde les grandes questions d’Alzheimer, des soins palliatifs, jusqu’au bouleversement de la notion de temps. Son livre s’adresse aux soignants, au monde médical, mais aussi aux familles, aux personnes engagées dans les problématiques liées au vieillissement.

Other Announcements:

  • The network of Jesuit universities in Spain (UNIJES) and Loyola-Andalucia University will organize the 1st symposium on Catholic social thought in Seville (Spain), November 7th and 8th 2013. The symposium will look for proposals to face the present economic crisis, particularly in the areas of world democracy and civil economy. For more information visit:
  • New Theology Review is accepting manuscripts and proposals for a theme issue on Ecology and Theology for its March 2014 issue. Deadline is November 1, 2013. More info:
  • Call for Applications: MA in Peace Studies and International Relations at Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR). HIPSIR is part of Hekima College, which is a constituent college of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA).

CTEWC Forum: Canada, Japan and South Africa

Rewarding the Deserving?

By: Mark Miller

When the Conservative party won a majority government in Canada in 2011, several trends concerning foreign aid began to surface in the implementation of government policy. One striking note surfaced when the government effectively vetoed the decisions of its own development agency—the Canadian International

Development Agency (CIDA), which is responsible for guiding aid dollars to the poor and needy in impoverished lands—in awarding grants for certain projects.

Two of the most notable groups that lost funding for their work were the Mennonite Central Committee, with a superb record of helping some of the most abandoned people on the planet, and Kairos, an ecumenical organization of mainline churches with a number of programs particularly designed for impoverished and oppressed women and children.  The International Cooperation Minister, Bev Oda, literally reneged on grants that had been approved by CIDA in accord with its aid criteria.

Kairos has a history of criticizing the government over such things as oil sands pollution, poverty among First Nations’ communities, and abandonment of the effort to ensure that no children live in poverty.  The Mennonite Central Committee is much quieter in its profoundly Gospel-centered witness to social involvement for the poor. Explanations for the de-funding of the projects sponsored by these organizations were quite lame.

Shortly after the withdrawal of funding for Kairos and MCC, Bev Oda announced funding for three NGOs to run aid projects in Burkina Faso, Peru, and Ghana where Canadian mining companies are active.  This spring, the government announced a newly dedicated pathway for CIDA’s foreign aid: to accompany the Canadian mining companies that run some of the largest mines in the world.

The Canadian press often reports (50 stories in the last 10 years) on the environmental degradation around these mines, exploitation of workers, and human rights abuses.  The new (Conservative party) International Cooperation Minister Julian Fantino is now actively soliciting grant proposals from mining companies, who will also have to make contributions, on such things as skills training and small-business development for their international neighbours. This is our 21st century aid.

From The Globe and Mail, (Saturday, March 2, 2013, p. A5) Fantino is quoted as stating: “Yes, there is a business component to this, obviously we can’t ignore that. But I want to highlight that there’s an altruistic reason, certainly for Canada to be doing what we’re doing, and that the purpose, (the) intent, is to help the industry succeed in an ethical way.” This funding path is not necessarily wrong; however, notice that there is no mention of the needs or response to complaints of local communities.

Meanwhile, as crime rates drop in Canada, the Conservative government is investing huge amounts in building new prisons, increasing sentences for some crimes, removing judicial sentencing flexibility, and reducing funds for rehabilitation programs for inmates. Justice Anne Malloy made the news in the Toronto Star when she refused to impose a mandatory three-year sentence on Leroy Smickle, “...convicted of possessing an illegal firearm after his ill-timed posing for a webcam holding his cousin’s gun just as Toronto police officers crashed through an apartment door” (Feb 18, 2013).

I could be mistaken, but I detect a dualist theological foundation to these and numerous other policies of our government.  The world is divided into good and bad; industry is good and the government’s responsibility is to support the (ethical?) success of, e.g., its mining and prison industries; criminals are bad and deserve nothing but punishment. And the poor, well, not fitting this paradigm, a trickle-down economic and development philosophy is all the government is willing to do for them. (And I will not pursue other quotes from government ministers that suggest that the poor are poor because they haven’t pulled themselves up by their bootstraps.)

Perhaps, though, the lesson here is for Christians who take Jesus’ concern for the poor and

After receiving a doctorate in moral theology from the University of Notre Dame (1992), Mark Miller, a Redemptorist priest, spent 16 years as a clinical bioethicist working at St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon and for the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan. He is currently at work in Toronto as the provincial of his Redemptorist province, as well as a part-time ethicist at the Centre for Clinical Ethics at St. Joseph’s and St. Michael’s Hospitals. He has a particular passion for Catholic health care, palliative/hospice care, and parish nursing.

Peace or Amendment of the Constitution of Japan?

Osamu Takeuchi, S.J.

The Constitution of Japan, successor to the Constitution of the Empire of Japan (the Meiji Constitution) became effective on May 3, 1947. Consisting of 11 chapters with a total of 103 articles, it is notable for its declaration that sovereignty resides with the people, its assertion of fundamental human rights, and its renunciation of war and arms.

Article 9 is the most controversial article of the Constitution of Japan. Since the day of the enforcement, Japan has enjoyed over 60 years with no war. Based on the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951, the Diet passed a law creating the Self Defense Forces (SDF) in 1954.  The constitutionality of the SDF is also highly controversial.

The 46th general election for members of the House of Representatives was held on December 16, 2012.            The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leaped from 118 seats to 294 seats.  They returned to government again. In the election of both houses Shinzo Abe, president of the LDP (age 58), was elected 96th prime minister.

Among the winners of the election, 89% support amending the Constitution (must amend: 68%; if anything amend: 21%; oppose: 4%, if anything oppose: 2%). Also, 79 % approve of the right of collective self-defense.

The issue of Article 9 of the Constitution is not just a domestic issue, but rather international. Article 9 is, as it were, an apology of the state for the aggression that Japan carried out on neighboring countries in the past.  Therefore, for Japan to amend Article 9 would mean cancelling the apology.

Article 9:

Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.

In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

The current administration undoubtedly aims to amend Article 9 of the Constitution and the exercise of the right of collective self-defense. However, amending the Constitution requires the support of two-thirds of the members of the Diet. For this purpose the present administration wants to amend Article 96 of the Constitution first to lower the hurdle for the amendment of Article 9.

Article 96:

Amendments to this Constitution shall be initiated by the Diet, through a concurring vote of two-thirds or more of all the members of each House and shall thereupon be submitted to the people for ratification, which shall require the affirmative vote of a majority of all votes cast thereon, at a special referendum or at such election as the Diet shall specify.

Peace is not achieved automatically without effort. Rather, we have to continue to build it constantly.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Mt 5:9).

Osamu Takeuchi, S.J., a native of Japan, is a professor of moral theology at Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan. He received his S.T.D. from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. His areas of special interest are fundamental moral theology, bioethics, and sexual ethics. He has published Conscience and Culture: A Dialogue between the West and the East concerning Conscience (Saarbrücken, Germany: LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, 2010). 

Wage negotiation season returns to South Africa’s Mines

By: Peter Knox, SJ

June normally sees the start of the wage negotiation season in South Africa. After the disastrous events of last year, when 34 striking platinum miners were killed by the police, and another 10 were hacked to death in earlier incidents, the country holds its breath, hoping and praying that the protagonists will tread very carefully this year.

The eventual settlement last year was a 22% increase in pay for some grades of striking workers, which was considerably less than the 300% they were demanding. However, the settlement gave hope to workers in numerous other industries, who also tried to obtain such high increases. Of course, this kind of raise is unsustainable, and in January this year, some of the mining companies started to close up shop and pay off some 14 000 employees.

While the platinum industry is one of the most profitable in the country, and South Africa has some of the world’s largest reserves, its budget allows only so much for the wages of the miners.  The labour-intensive industry has enormous workforces which can constitute a majority of any small mining town. If one mine is closed, that has repercussions for an entire society. Many migrant workers return to their towns or countries of origin, but those workers who have invested in property in a mining town are often left hanging out to dry.

South Africa has a young democracy and a young labour union movement. For much of the apartheid, era workers were not allowed to unionise. In 1982 the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was formed, and in 1987 it led a successful protracted national strike. However 50 000 miners were laid off as a consequence of the strike. Over 30 years the NUM has learnt the ropes of negotiation and has become the strongest union in the sector. Some maintain it has carved out a niche for itself and is in a cosy relationship with the mine owners. Ironically its first national president, Cyril Ramaphosa is now a multimillionnaire on the side of the owners, with stakes both in some of the mines themselves and in labour brokerage firms. He is also the deputy president of the ruling ANC to which the NUM is allied.

Last year’s strike at Marikana was led by the competing Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU). Founded in 2001 and still a relative newcomer to high-stakes negotiations, some would say its opportunitistic and adversarial style led to the tragic confrontation. Leading workers to expect and hold out for a 300% raise was simply irresponsible and completely unrealistic. Politcally aligned with more left-wing interests, the AMCU is able to attract great popular following.

In Laborem Exercens 20 Pope John Paul II reaffirms the right of workers to strike, as justice is an issue of the common good for the whole of society. However, a strike should be seen as an “extreme means” that should not be abused for “political” purposes. He reminds us that labour unions should not have close links with any political parties, because they can then “easily lose contact with their specific role which is to secure the just rights of workers within the framework of the common good of the whole society.”

As South Africa braces for another round of wage negotiations, following these basic prinicples of labour relations may avert another Marikana-style tragedy.

Peter Knox SJ is a member of the Jesuit Institute in South Africa (see He teaches systematic theology at Hekima College, the Jesuit school of theology in Nairobi. He previously taught 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

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