November THE FIRST (2012)

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The FIRST
November 2012
Welcome to the FIRST
The newsletter of Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church (CTEWC)
www.catholicethics.com
November 2012

In this issue: From the editor
Announcements Nairobi Coverage
Forum: 4 new essays
Regional Reports: Latin America, Asia, and Africa
New on the website

Jim Keenan S.J -  Editor
Jillian Maxey - Layout

From the desk of the editor

Dear Friends,

We are very happy to send you this issue of the First. First, I want to thank Agnes Brazal for all her work in getting the St. Vincent's School of Theology scholarship going. Want a PhD in theological ethics, then see the advertisement below!

Second, the Forum is nice and full. A special Welcome to Nichole Flores this month.

Third, news from the Regional Conference that was held in Nairobi continues to be published. See below the essay by Orobator as well as excerpts from two of the participants in the conference, Elias Omondi Opongo and Victor Adangba.

We will be publishing the papers from that Conference. More info to follow. 

We are presently working on two projects: Jillian is finishing up work on our forthcoming new website. Linda Hogan, Antonio Autiero, and I are setting up a meeting next summer in Berlin, but more on that next month.

In the meantime see our reports. Take a Special look at the Vatican II Conference in Bangalore that Shaji George Kochuthara has organized in the new year.

Peace and Blessings,
Jim


Announcements

The St. Vincent School of Theology (SVST) is offering five to ten tuition fee scholarships for both locals and foreigners from developing countries for a Doctoral degree in Theological Ethics.

Once accepted, foreign applicants who need further support for board and lodging and travel fare can be endorsed by SVST to other funding sources.    The acceptance of qualified scholarship applicants is on a first come first served basis. The deadline for scholarship application is January 31, 2013. The degree requires two years of course work (regular courses for two summers-March to May-and online courses during the regular terms), before the dissertation writing phase . The first batch starts in March, 2013. If interested, please submit a letter of application to The Dean, Fr. Daniel Franklin Pilario, CM, St. Vincent School of Theology-Adamson University. Email svst_qc@yahoo.com

Revisiting Vatican II 50 Years of Renewal
50 Years of Renewal
International Conference
31 January – 3 February 2013 
Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram Dharmaram College Bangalore, India 560 029 

The International Conference, “Revisiting Vatican II: 50 Years of Renewal” envisages a profound, sincere and critical reflection on the impact of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) on the universal Church, with a special focus on the Asian Churches. Beginning with the historical, cultural, philosophical, theological and pastoral contexts of the convoking of the Council, the conference plans to analyze the various documents of the Council, the response they gave to the call for renewal in the Church and the world till our own times as well as the relevance these documents have for the ongoing renewal of the Church and society in our times.

This four day conference is organized by Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram (DVK), Pontifical Athenaeum of Philosophy, Theology and Canon Law, under the aegis of Asian Horizons: Dharmaram Journal of Theology.

The conference will feature eminent theologians and scholars from different continents. We plan to bring together more than 300 participants from our partner institutions and other institutions around the world.

Download the conference program.

Newly published books by members of the CTEWC

Kinship Across Borders analyzes contemporary US immigration in the context of fundamental Christian beliefs about the human person, sin, family life, and global solidarity. Can the law promote moral values even in pluralistic societies such as the United States? Drawing upon important federal legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, legal scholar and moral theologian Cathleen Kaveny, in Law’s Virtues: Fostering Autonomy and Solidarity in American Society, argues that it can.

Both titles are available at a 50% discount through Georgetown University Press. Enter the code TM60 at checkout. More information


Nairobi: CTEWC in Africa After Trento: Engaging the African Synod IN THE MEDIA

Fr. Orobator has written an article on the CTEWC conference in Nairobi for the newest edition of America magazine.

From America Magazine : Out of Africa
How a new generation of theologians is reshaping the church

Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator | NOVEMBER 5, 2012

Africaʼs theological landscape is changing significantly and rapidly. The pace and scope of this transformation came into focus at the first regional conference of the global network of Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church held in Nairobi, Kenya, in August 2012. For three days, 35 African theologians engaged in intense conversation about pressing issues confronting church and society in Africa from the perspective of theological ethics. By many accounts this inaugural gathering did not resemble the usual theological talk-shop where scholars present abstract theses or ecclesiastical leaders declaim lofty doctrinal propositions. Judging by its composition, methodology and focus, the conference offered a glimpse of the shape of theology in Africa today and the promise it holds for the world church.

Three factors illustrate this phenomenon of change in theological discourse and scholarship. The first factor relates to demographics. Picture this: Nearly half the participants at the C.T.E.W.C. conference in Nairobi were women, both lay and religious. This is something new and different. A gathering of theologians where women are not in the minority is unprecedented in Africa. It would have been customary to have, at most, only token representation. Among the women theologians in attendance at the Nairobi conference, seven are in a C.T.E.W.C.-sponsored program for the advanced training of African women in theological ethics. This program will enable all of them to earn doctoral degrees in theological ethics from African universities within the next three years. A new generation of African women theologians is in the making across an ecclesial and theological landscape where hitherto they were unrepresented, their voices ignored and their contributions unacknowledged.

As the veil of invisibility lifts, African women are taking a critical stand on existential issues in church and society. They make their own arguments as scholars with passion, confidence and authority rather than being spoken about as passive objects in theological conferences and workshops conducted and dominated by male theologians. It should hardly surprise us that this new generation of theologically literate African women expresses its understanding of faith and the concomitant ramifications for civil and religious society in a new and radical way. They open up new paths toward an action-orientated theological enterprise.

The advanced theological education of African women responds to one of the recommendations of the Second Synod of Bishops for Africa, held in 2009, for the formation and greater integration of women into church structures and decision-making processes. Judging by the tone and scope of the discourse at the Nairobi gathering, integration would not necessarily translate into unquestioning and submissive acceptance of subservient roles, to which many African women are confined in church and society. As a result of the theological formation of African women, we can expect to see an intensifying theological advocacy for the just treatment of women in Africa; honest recognition and appreciation of their dignity and contribution to society; and constructive harnessing of their talents and resources for leadership, ministry and participation in both the African and the world church.

A New Way of Doing Theology
A second sign of change on Africaʼs theological landscape is a palpable sense of energy and creativity. Among the participants at the Nairobi conference, the majority received their doctorates in theology less than five years ago. This means that a new generation of African theologians has emerged, primed to receive the mantle from the more seasoned generation of theologians who negotiated the transition from a colonial church to a truly African church, but ready to steer this church in a new and exciting direction.

The format of the conference took the shape of conversation—women and men, lay and religious, young and old exploring and raising probing questions, clearing new paths and articulating viable options. A critical component of this approach is readiness to listen and learn from one another. The setting of the conference recalled the African palaver model of dialogue and consensus in addressing pertinent theological and ethical issues. This conversation was led by new African scholars in dialogue with established scholars and ecclesial leaders. Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria; Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu, Uganda; and Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio, South Sudan, all attended the conference. Unusually, they participated not as keynote speakers but as conversation partners. In this role, the ecclesial leaders contributed to and enriched the conversation by offering candid views and relating moving personal testimonies of their experience of reconciliation, justice and peace in Africa. Here, again, something new is emerging across the continent: it is not customary for theologians to dialogue with ecclesial leaders on level ground.

A third striking feature of the conference was the variety of issues addressed by participants. On the agenda were the themes of the Second African Synod: reconciliation, justice and peace. Any observer of Africa and its predicament would understand why these themes are crucial for the church in Africa, a continent reeling from the trauma of ethnic division, economic mismanagement, human rights abuses, political bigotry and civil and sectarian violence. These crises affect the lives of all Africans. The ability and willingness of African theologians to tackle these vexing ethical challenges is a measure of the credibility and relevance of Catholic theology in Africa. The concerns of the conference participants reflect the concerns of contemporary theologians in the wider ecclesia in Africa. They go beyond the borders of church doctrine and discipline and relate to public and existential concerns. The catalog of concerns ranges from sociopolitical unrest in Northern Uganda and Ivory Coast to economic injustice endemic in the mining industries in Congo and Nigeria; from sexual, gender-based violence in South Africa and South Sudan to ethnic, religious and sectarian violence in Kenya and Egypt. Current conversations in theological ethics in Africa do not shy away from these complex ethical issues. Yet it would be mistaken to think that the focus is simply ad extra.

Justice in the Church
Also at issue are internal ecclesial concerns, such as the role and participation of African women in the church. Official rhetoric of participation, equality and gender justice in church is not lacking; oftentimes, it is stirring. But too often it remains at the level of rhetoric. African women theologians are leading the way not only in formulating a critical appraisal of the ecclesiastical status quo, but also in articulating alternatives to an inherited theological discourse that favors patriarchy and clericalism. There is growing recognition that the quest for reconciliation, justice and peace is as pressing for the church as it is for the wider society. And this quest cannot bypass or overlook homegrown solutions. This presents African theologians with a formidable, multifaceted task: first, to explore and identify these potential solutions; second, to articulate and analyze them systematically in conversation with the Christian tradition and Catholic social teaching; and, third, to propose workable models and applications at the service of the churchʼs mission in a postmodern, globalizing world.

Those familiar with the African theological landscape would naturally link this methodology to inculturation. The three-stage process outlined above follows that familiar pattern. What is different is that the issues at stake are not just matters of sacramental and liturgical practice that have prompted some theologians to narrowly and erroneously depict the church in Africa merely as “the dancing church.” This stereotypical portrayal of what church is and does in Africa flies in the face of what African Catholic theologians are talking about. The discourse has shifted. A quick sample of topics discussed at the Nairobi conference is enough to remove any lingering doubt.

Alison Munro, the South African nun who leads the H.I.V./AIDS Office of the Southern African Catholic Bishopsʼ Conference, demonstrated how the daunting task of dealing with the AIDS pandemic in South Africa is integral to the churchʼs mission of justice and peace. The Nigerian- American scholar Anne Arabome made a powerful argument in favor of justice as a practice that thrives only when women and men are accorded equal dignity in church and society. One of the seven C.T.E.W.C. scholarship recipients, Anne Oyier, drew on personal experience of sectarian violence to argue persuasively the case of holistic peace education as the path toward effective reconciliation and lasting peace in Africa. Elisée Rutagambwa, S.J., offered a model for overcoming the tension between the quest for justice and the necessity of reconciliation in concrete instances of violence, like those in Northern Uganda and Rwanda. And David Kaulemu, a Zimbabwean lay theologian, proffered a methodology for promoting social justice founded on mutuality and collaboration between the church and civil society in Africa.

There can be no question about the strong and dynamic currents that are now shaping the flow of theological discourse in Africa. A unique characteristic of this discourse is the widening circle of conversation partners. African theologians no longer content themselves with talking to like- minded theologians; they are talking to bishops, civil society groups and government representatives. This approach represents a new way of doing theology, in which collaboration and conversation are preferred over confrontation. The result is a process of mutual listening and learning, a vital ingredient for constructing what the veteran African theologian Elochukwu Uzukwu once designated as “the listening church.”

The Nairobi conference offers a new understanding of the nature and purpose of theology in Africa and in the world church. First, theology resembles a team event where the rules of engagement favor conversation over confrontation, even in the midst of tumultuous and neuralgic debates in church and society.

Second, theology is work in progress informed by on-the-ground realities. It is not about discussing arcane points of doctrine or resisting critical analysis. Theology embodies and delineates a shared space large enough to accommodate multiple quests to (re)interpret Christian tradition and Scripture through sincere and respectful dialogue in the unfolding context of church, society and the academy. In this space openness to personal conversion would seem a precondition for effective dialogue and action.

Finally, there is a generational turnover that recognizes the wisdom and legacy of established theologians but celebrates the promise and vitality of young theologians intent on furthering the mission of the world church. On the evidence of the dynamics and demographics of this generational turnover in African theology, we would be right to proclaim with Pliny the Elder: “There is always something new out of Africa!”

Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, S.J., the provincial superior of the Eastern Africa Province of the Society of Jesus, is a lecturer at Hekima College in Nairobi, Kenya.

Share the article:
http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=13672

Excerpts from Elias Omondi Opongo’s and Victor B. Adangba’s conference papers have been published in America magazine.

“Doing Theology in Africa: Excerpts from an ethics conference in Kenya”
November 5, 2012 edition of America.

The article is available here:
http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=13686

Archbishop John Onaiyekan spoke at the Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church gathering in Nairobi Aug. 22.

On October 24, it was announced that Archbishop Onaiyekan would be elevated to the College of Cardinals.

For more on the newly appointed cardinal, see Josh McElwee’s article in the National Catholic Reporter:
http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/new-cardinal-violence-women-priests


CTEWC Forum: Kenya, Japan, The United States, and Argentina

Ushering African Women into the Year of Faith: Reflection on Motu Proprio Data

Benedict XVI, in his Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Data, on the Door of Faith, invites all the faithful, women and men alike to enter through the “door of faith” and set out on a lifelong journey that we began at our baptism into the life of communion with our Triune God. He speaks of the need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm for the encounter with Christ. The theme for this year of faith namely “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith” is very significant to African women who look forward to playing an active role at various stages of its planning, implementation, etc., at their local churches.

One of the striking points of this Letter is the citing of the Samaritan woman, of Lydia, and of Mary the Mother of God as women of great faith. Benedict XVI’s choice of the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman seems to point to the special role women have played throughout the history of the Church in fostering and witnessing to their communities about their faith in Jesus Christ. In this narrative, the Samaritan community is portrayed as having known the person of Jesus Christ through the faith of one of their nameless women. Furthermore, just like for the Samaritan woman, “wells” or “rivers” for African women, serve as places of meeting and rescue; a place where they have found solace while sharing their stories.

We also note that Jesus destroyed the basis for any hatred between Jew and Samaritan a move that makes the story more relevant to the Continent of Africa, a continent that has been torn by tribal and ethnic hatred. It also points to the need to appreciate more the role of women in society as well as in the church. The imagery of a woman as used in the text is encouraging to African women and it points to the need to challenge and eradicate the biases and the stereotypical attitudes projected onto women. It also shows the power of the marginalized to challenge, to bring us closer to God, and to remind us about solidarity and the preferential option for the poor. African women can thus draw strength and courage from this narrative in witnessing to their people, knowing that Jesus Christ who transforms their lives also calls them to discipleship. Thus, Motu Proprio Data challenges us to emulate Jesus’ paradigm and include women, not only in celebrating the “Year of Faith”, but in various stages towards its celebration. Admittedly, the Samaritan woman’s courage and faith are a wake-up call for African women to have faith in themselves and to believe that they have what it takes to actively contribute towards the “Year of Faith” at various levels.

Veronica Jemanyur Rop is a member of the Assumption Sisters of Eldoret, a local congregation based in Kenya. She is a doctoral student (PhD/STD/MT) in the Faculty of Theology, Department of Moral Theology at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Kenya. Veronica is also a receiptant of a CTEWC Scholarship for African women. She is also one of the contributors for CTEWC Newsletter African FORUM.


Another Virtue Ethics

Japan has now troublesome territory problems with China and South Korea: the Senkaku, Diaoyu or Tiaoyutai Islands issue and the Liancourt Rocks, known as Takeshima or Dokdo. It is true that these problems have arisen from historically complicated backgrounds. However, we need wise and diligent dialogues to resolve them. In order to do that, we may be able to use a communal wisdom we share historically and philosophically: Confucianism. Confucianism is basically a virtue ethics. Its founder is Confucius (BC 552/1-479). His thought was succeeded and developed by Mencius (BC 372-289).

Confucius
The principle of the thought of Confucius is jen (humanity/benevolence). However, he does not explain or define it clearly. Rather, instead, he tells us what human beings can become by cultivating jen. There are five cardinal virtues: jen, i (righteousness), li (propriety), chi (wisdom), and shin (faithfulness / belief). Every virtue is based on jen.

“Confucius said, ‘Shen, there is one thread that runs through my doctrines.’ Tseng Tsu said, ‘Yes.’ After Confucius had left, the disciples asked him, ‘What did it mean?’ Tseng Tzu replied, ‘The Way of our Master is none other than conscientiousness (chung) and altruism (shu)’ ” (The Analects, 4:15). This one thread is nothing other than jen. Chung is to be sincere to oneself and shu is to be sincere to others. In other words, chung means the full development of one’s [originally good] mind and shu means the extension of that mind to others.

Mencius
Mencius regards human nature as “good by nature.” This may sound naïve, but it is in fact his philosophical premise.  This is the origin of all his thought and is generally called a “theory of the original goodness of human nature.” This theory derives from Confucius’ theory of chung-shu. The goodness has two characteristics. First, it is the first ontological or metaphysical cause of human beings. Second, the good is the last goal toward which every act is oriented. Therefore, Mencius thinks the original goodness of human nature innately relates not only to oneself but also to others.

In order to demonstrate his theory, Mencius presents four innate feelings universally present in human beings. These are called the “Four Beginnings”: the feeling of commiseration, the feeling of shame and dislike, the feeling of respect and reverence, and the feeling of right and wrong. The Four Beginnings are never abstract concepts, but rather concrete metaphors of moral “sprouts.”

The feeling of commiseration has priority over the other three feelings and the feeling of right and wrong holds the last position. In other words, for Mencius, having compassion to others is more important than the judgments of right and wrong. This is one of the notable differences from Western moral thought. According to Mencius, being good as a human person is more important than exercising the intellectual faculty of judgment.    This sense of morality is never individualistic, but rather communal, that is, it should be executed in harmonious relationship to others.

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).


Race and Polarization in the U.S. Church and Public Life

In a recent CNN op-ed, LZ Granderson argues that both major U.S. political parties are complicit in perpetuating racially-based political polarization in the United States by employing rhetoric that fails to appeal across racial divisions. Unfortunately, the social construction of race has infiltrated every institution in the US, including the US Catholic Church, the rhetoric only exacerbates while it ignores the systemic reach of racism. A two- party system that maintains racial division prevents the ideals of a more perfect union as it thwarts the common societal good. The politically, culturally, and racially diverse U.S. Catholic Church is in a unique position to resist divisions based on race. In order to overcome a racially divided society and to strengthen the common good, however, our Church must first acknowledge its own participation in history and this polarizing rhetoric and second incorporate racial justice more fully and explicitly into our social teachings and practices.

U.S. Catholics are a tremendously diverse church, united by faith and a commitment to the good. Guided by a rich tradition of social thought that calls us to think critically about society and political initiative, Catholics are equipped to defy uncritical political allegiances that threaten to dull the prophetic edge of our faith. When our scriptural and teaching traditions are read in light of the signs of our times, Catholics are directed to seek unity across racial difference as members of one Body of Christ and social community.

While the tradition equips its members with important tools for responding to social division and injustice, the US Church still struggles to address racial polarization in our teaching and practice. Indeed, Catholics often engage in the same racially and politically polarizing rhetoric as other citizens, obscuring the depth of our teachings by marching lock-step with dominant political forces. We have often failed to model or pursue the virtues of justice, charity, solidarity, and fortitude in our public witness to Christ’s saving Word. We have often failed to engage the affects of racism on our teachings and practices and in them. We have often failed to raise a prophetic voice for those who are racialized as “other”. These failures erode the Church’s moral authority in American public life.

How can U.S. Catholics deepen our commitment to racial justice and resist racial polarization? Two plenary presentations on race at the 2010 Trento Conference serve as guideposts for a response. Maria Teresa Davila emphasized the need of Catholic social teaching to acknowledge the pervasive problem of race in and to engage a process of atonement for the historical wounds of racism. Bryan Massingale demonstrated the persistent invisibility of black and other racialized bodies in Catholic ethical thought and invited us to take the experience of black bodies seriously in the study and articulation of theological ethics. Taking our cue from Davila and Massingale, we must position ourselves to attend to the experiences of racialized people for meaningful moral reflection on the pernicious effects of racism in the Church and on the societal common good.

Catholic social teaching must be matched with a commitment to engage in practices that resist racial polarization and promote the common good. The practice of charitable listening in solidarity with others across racial, social, and political difference is one fundamental step toward seeking unity across difference. The practice of justice informed by a preferential option for those who are vulnerable and/or marginalized is another. And fortitude for the journey of remembering, healing, and atonement is another.

The Catholic Church has a prophetic duty to resist racial polarization wherever it is expressed. As theological ethicists we are called to investigate our own teachings and practices for their lip-service to or complicity in the sin of racism, to align our responsibility to the Gospel’s challenge of a discipleship of equals and solidarity with all people, and to practice what we preach. Perhaps the best we can do at a time of entrenched political gridlock is to work for racial justice and witness the common good.

Nichole M. Flores is a Margaret O’Brien Flatley Fellow in theological ethics at Boston College and Graduate Research Assistant at the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life. She is the Associate Member Representative to the Board of Directors for the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS) and Student Convener of the Latino/a Working Group of the Society of Christian Ethics (SCE). She earned an A.B. in government from Smith College and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School.


ENCUENTRO DE LA TEOLOGIA LATINOAMERICANA

Los “dinosaurios” de la Teología de la Liberación –como a sí mismos se han nombrado en un acabado gesto de indeterminación-, lograron en San Leopoldo, hace apenas unos pocos días, irrumpir una vez más el discurso unívoco de América Latina con la disonancia de que “la pobreza es el camino al Reino de los Cielos”. John Sobrino, Leonardo Boff, Pedro Trigo, Juan Carlos Scannone, Frey Betos y hasta Gustavo Gutiérrez convocaron, en el Congreso Continental de Teología realizado en la Universidad de Unisinos, tres generaciones de teólogos que pretenden comprometerse con la práctica de la pobreza como opción radical de vida.

Marcando una vez más la distancia con una teología europea progresista, el centro del debate teológico fue la categoría de pobre, evitando que se torne significante vacío capaz de ser articulado en sentido contrario por cualquier otro tipo de discurso teológico. En cada uno de los talleres, de una manera u otra, se redefinió al pobre como “ser empobrecido por un sistema de explotación económica que, al condicionarlo a la opresión, no le permite ser humano, lo cual es per se una injusticia” (Trigo).

La sociedad de consumo, entendida como par dialéctico de un sistema de producción generador de la pobreza, no dejó de ser desenmascarada una y otra vez por una teología que busca la superación. Como tema central de varios paneles, el consumo fue sometido a una crítica agiornada. Mediante un lenguaje digital se dijo en imágenes, por ejemplo, que “el espacio de lo sagrado se ha desplazado de la Iglesia al shopping”, o que “la buena nueva es ahora la llegada del Ipod 5” (Queiruga). Frases que buscaron provocar un clima distendido, y lo lograron cuando el público estalló en risas, pero al mismo tiempo buscaron despertar la “sospecha” –en tanto categoría liberadora-, como fuente de un juicio reflexionante permanente.

Finalmente, por un lado, la memoria presentificó a los ausentes, las voces de Ellacuría, Romero, Gera o Segundo se hicieron palabra y angustia en la voz de sus compañeros históricos. Por otro lado, de cara a un siglo XXI largo, la Teología de la Liberación intenta no solo ser la voz de lo deshumanizado, sino también la no-palabra de la Pacha Mama empobrecida que clama al cielo (Boff).

No puede negarse que católicos y protestantes, hombres y mujeres, religiosos y laicos, profesores y estudiantes, pastores y académicos, teólogos y cientistas sociales, manifestaron en español y en portugués un merecido reconocimiento a los padres fundadores. Sin duda la vieja guardia ha dejado una escuela. Sin embargo, la voz de la vanguardia, parece no-ser- palabra aún.

Emilce Cuda, Ph.D. en Teología Moral, especialista en temas sociales, centrándose en la relación entre teología y política en América Latina y el diálogo Norte-Sur.


Regional Reports

Asian Regional Committee Report

The 6th biennial Conference of The Ecclesia of Women in Asia
The Ecclesia of Women in Asia will hold its 6th biennial conference on November 14-18, 2013 at Bangalore, India. The theme for the conference has been chosen as “Liberating Power: Asian Feminist Theological Perspectives.” An open invitation is extended to women theologians from other continents, who might be interested and willing to come and share their experiences with us. As in EWA 5 and in collaboration with the Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church, three papers will be presented via skype in universities in other continents.

See the call for papers at http://ecclesiaofwomen.ning.com/forum/topics/call-for-papers-ewa-6.

Annual Meeting of Moral Theologians of India

The Annual meeting of the Moral Theologians of India took place at Pune, October 29-31. The theme of this year’s meeting is “Ethical Systems in a Diverse World.”

See the meeting report:

The Annual meeting of the Moral Theologians of India took place as scheduled on October 26-28, 2012 at De Nobili college Pune. There were 27 participants from all over India.  The meeting began with the Eucharistic celebration presided by his lordship Rt. Rev. Dr. Thomas Dabre, the Bishop of Pune. The inaugural session began at 11.00  am with prayer service.  Fr. Scaria Kanniyakonil , the secretary of the association  welcomed all the participants. Bishop Thomas Dabre has inaugurated the meeting. In his inaugural address, he mentioned about the moral issues that the moral theologians must focus on. Rev. Fr. Clement Campus, in his presidential address paid homage to late Rev. Dr. Soosai Arockiasamy, the previous president and the founding member of the Association. He also emphasized the contribution of Vatican II towards the renewal of moral theology placing the human person adequately considered as the centre of the moral reflection. The inaugural session concluded with the vote of thanks by Fr. John Karuvelil (local coordinator).

After the inaugural session, then sessions on paper presentation started. There were four papers on the first day. Fr. Charles Furtado in his paper, ‘Secular ethics,’ defined secular humanism as a philosophy that seeks maximum welfare of human beings without any reference to God. In his evaluation he criticized it as an atheistic and highly developmental to human well being. There was a lively discussion following the presentation.

The paper on Hindu Ethical system was read out by Fr. John Karuvelil. In his presentation he mentioned the essential component of Dharma as Rta and Satya. In his discussion it is told that it could be seen as an Indian equivalent to Christian concept of the natural moral law.

Fr. Michael Peters, in his presentation - ‘Islamic ethics,’ depicted Islam as a religion of peace and good as that which has been deemed by Allah. The discussion followed by it pointed out some similarities between Christian and Islamic ethics.

Sr. Vimala CMC, in her presentation underlined the importance of being moral in the contemporary society.  The discussion after the presentation brought out certain challenges as well as responsibility of us to be morally authentic person.

The first day was concluded with a prayer session in the chapel.

The second day began with the Holy Mass at 6.45am. The session began with an orientation talk by Fr. George Pattery SJ, the acting president of JDV. In his talk he pointed out the task of moral theologian in forming mature Christian in a pluralistic world. There were five papers on the second day.

In his paper, Fr. Matthew Coutinho explained the essential elements of moral education. The core of moral education is to make passionate followers of Christ. The discussion followed by it pointed out the challenges we face today in the character formation.

The ill effect of the tourism was the central theme in the paper of Fr. Donato Rodrgues. He has also brought out its social consequences and ethical challenges. The discussion followed by it emphasized the role of Church to fight against the unjust systems and practices.  

Fr. Shaji George Kochuthara in his paper summarized the salient features of Natural Moral Law. The active discussion followed by it emphasized the issues like the transition from ‘is to ought’ and the weakness  of natural law conditioned as physicalism and rigidity.

Fr. Paulachen Kochapally has given new insight to the beatitudes in the light of Buddhist tradition of Ashtangamarga. It was followed by a lively discussion with certain clarifications and explanation.

The paper on ‘corruption’ by Fr. Shaji George Kochuthara highlighted the most important features of corruption and its impacts and effects in present Indian society. He has also underlined that an authentic Christian can only fight against the evils of corruption. The discussion followed by it urged to see corruption as a sin.

The third day began with the Eucharistic celebration. Sharing of the new scholars, planning for the next meeting, and the silver jubilee celebration were the agenda of the third day.  Fr. Leo Praveen, Fr. Biju Kolankunnel and Fr. Kingsly Reegan  shared their research findings

Since we celebrate the silver jubilee of the association, the theme for the next annual meeting was chosen as “the contribution of the moral theologians to the Indian Church” on 25- 27th October 2013 at St. Vincent’s Retreat Center, Gopalpur-On-Sea, Berhampur, Orissa.  The local Coordinator of the meeting is  Fr. Thomas Parayil.

The meeting has taken the following decision as part of the silver jubilee celebration: 1) to approach all the Indian moral theologians to present a paper (4000 words) on their research area or any other interested area in the forthcoming meeting. 2) Publish a book, namely, the contribution of the moral theologians to the Indian Church. 3) to collect the address of all the moral theologians of India, 4) to begin a web site.

The meeting of the Association of Moral Theologians came to a close with vote of thanks and prayer by Fr. Clement Campus.

Let us thank in a special way the speakers, moderators, and all the participants. Let us also acknowledge the wonderful service of Fr. John Karuvelil, the local coordinator.

Fr. Scaria Kanniyakonil (Secretary)
Lúcás Chan, Chair


Noticias y novedades de América Latina 
Argentina

Pablo Blanco nos comparte sobre las celebraciones en la Universidad Católica de Argentina en Buenos Aires por el 50 aniversario del Concilio Vaticano II:

“Los 50 años del comienzo del Concilio Vaticano II (1962-1965) fueron celebrados el pasado jueves 11 de octubre con un acto en el que la Pontifica Universidad Católica Argentina (UCA) entregó el doctorado honoris causa al rabino argentino Abraham Skorka.

Que una universidad católica otorgue un doctorado honoris causa a un rabino es un hecho inédito en América latina y subraya que el Concilio Vaticano II abrió la puerta a un creciente acercamiento entre la Iglesia Católica y el judaísmo. De hecho, en su declaración "Nostra Aetate", la asamblea de obispos del mundo, reunidos en Roma, supo destacar el patrimonio espiritual común a cristianos y judíos, y fomentó el mutuo conocimiento y aprecio.
El rector de la UCA, presbítero Víctor Fernández, dijo que esa entrega quería expresar: "Aquello que pedía el Concilio y vivido elocuentemente los últimos papas, ha sido acogido en la Argentina, y las instituciones cristianas podemos acoger la sabiduría presente de un rabino."

Abraham Skorka, de 62 años y padre de dos hijos, es doctorado en Química en la UBA y en Literatura Hebrea en EE.UU., rector del Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano y rabino de la Comunidad "Benei Tikva", y creador de la cátedra de Derecho Hebreo en la UBA y la Universidad del Salvador.

El rector de la UCA destacó la riqueza de su pensamiento, al señalar que ese doctorado Honoris Causa hasta el momento sólo se había dado a católicos.

Emocionado, Skorka agradeció con un verbo hebreo que significa "aunar, conectar". Evocó recuerdos familiares y diálogos con los cardenales Bergoglio, Walter Kasper y Estanislao Karlic, y el coraje intelectual de Juan Pablo II. Señaló que "a Dios se llega por amor y llamó a recrear vínculos espirituales."

En el estrado estuvieron tambien el arzobispo de Buenos Aires, cardenal Jorge Bergoglio, y el nuncio apostólico en la Argentina, monseñor Paul Tscherrig.

Fue orador central también el padre Raniero Cantalamessa, italiano, predicador pontificio. El pastor metodista Néstor Míguez dio un testimonio sobre las "ventanas abiertas" a la unidad de los cristianos por el Concilio en que su padre, José Míguez Bonino, fue observador invitado.”

Gustavo Irrázabal tomó parte en el panel ¿Qué Iglesia queremos? organizado por la Revista Criterio. El mismo confronta el perfil de la Iglesia actual con las directivas conciliares. El link es: http://www.revistacriterio.com.ar/nota-tapa/charla-debate-que-iglesia-queremos/

Chile

Tony Misfud comparte sus más reciente publicaciones: “El sello conciliar de la reflexión moral en América Latina”, en Studia Moralia (Roma), 50/2
(2012), pp. 287 – 310; se reproducirá también en Roczniki Teologii Moralnej (Polonia)
“Del indicativo de la fe al imperativo de la ética”, en Teología y Vida, Vol. LIII, 1/2, 2012, pp. 65 – 85.

Updates and News from Latin America 
Argentina

Pablo Blanco shares the celebrations that took place at the Catholic University of Argentina, Buenos Aires, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Vatican II:

“On Thursday, October 11 the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina (UCA) awarded an honorary doctorate to Argentinian Rabbi Abraham Skorka on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the start of the II Vatican Council (1962-1965).

It is unheard of for a Catholic university to award an honorary doctorate to a rabbi, yet it witnesses to the fact that the II Vatican Council opened doors for a bourgeoning rapprochement between the Catholic Church and Judaism. Through the declaration Nostra Aetate the bishops from around the world gathered in Rome highlighted the common spiritual heritage between Christians and Jews, encouraging mutual acknowledgment and appreciation. The rector of the UCA, Víctor Fernández, stated that this award hoped to establish: “What the Council required and that was lived by the papacy since has been embraced in Argentina. Christian institutions can embrace the wisdom of a rabbi.”

Rabbi Abraham Skorka, 62 and father of two sons, earned his doctorate in Chemistry at the UBA and in Hebrew Literature in the United States. He is rector of the Rabbinical Seminary of Latin America and rabbi of temple Benei Tikva. He is also the founder of the Jewish Law chair at the UBA and the University of El Salvador. The rector of the UCA highlighted the fullness of the rabbi’s thought, pointing out that the honorary doctorate had only been awarded to Catholics.

The thrilled Skorka expressed his appreciation with a verb in Hebrew which means “to unite, to connect”. He related close memories of dialogues with Cardinals Bergoglio, Walter Kaster, and Estanislao Karlic, and the intellectual courage of John Paul II. He highlighted that “God is encountered through love and has called us to reform spiritual links.”

Also on the dais were Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, and the apostolic nuncio for Argentina, Monsignor Paul Tscherrig. Father Raniero Cantalamessa, pontifical preacher, was also a speaker at the event. Methodist pastor Néstor Míguez witnessed to the “open windows” to unity among Christians at the Council, where his father, theologian José Míguez Bonino, was also in attendance.

Gustavo Irrázabal was part of the panel What kind of church do we want?, sponsored by Revista Criterio. The panel dealt with the church's current profile in light of conciliar prescriptions. The link to the dialogue is: http://www.revistacriterio.com.ar/nota-tapa/charla- debate-que-iglesia-queremos/

Chile 
Tony Misfud shares his most recent publications: “El sello conciliar de la reflexión moral en América Latina”, en Studia Moralia (Roma), 50/2 (2012), pp. 287 – 310; se reproducirá también en Roczniki Teologii Moralnej (Polonia) “Del indicativo de la fe al imperativo de la ética”, en Teología y Vida, Vol. LIII, 1/2, 2012, pp. 65 – 85.

MT Davila, Chair


African Regional Committee Report
Conference for Catholic Professionals at Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations, Nairobi: 12-14 October 2012.

Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR) in collaboration with the African Forum for Catholic Social Teaching (AFCAST) and Kenya Movement of Catholic Professionals-Pax Romana held a conference with Catholic professionals 12-14 October 2012 at HIPSIR, Nairobi. The Catholic professionals came largely from Kenya, but with representatives from Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. The main theme for the conference was the role of Catholic professionals in electoral processes in Africa. The more than 100 participants explored ways in which the Church in Africa can be more proactive in addressing the diverse social-political challenges of the continent. The participants also challenged themselves to be witnesses of Gospel values by applying the principles of Catholic Social Teaching in their professions.

Fr. Elias Omondi Opongo, Chair

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