October THE FIRST (2012)

To view the formatted version of the October 2012 newsletter, please download the PDFTo read the newsletter in a language other than English, select your preferred language from the menu above.

October 2012

Welcome to the FIRST
The newsletter of Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church (CTEWC)

In this issue: From the editor
Nairobi Coverage
Regional Committee Membership News
Forum: 4 new essays
Regional Reports: Latin America and Asia
New on the website

Jim Keenan S.J - Editor
Jillian Maxey - Layout

From the desk of the editor
Dear Friends,

This issue is filled with NEWS, NEWS, NEWS!

First we have the coverage from the Nairobi conference, “CTEWC in Africa after Trento: Engaging the African Synod.” The NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER sent Joshua MacElwee to cover Nairobi. To date, he has written three essays on us in NCR: on the conference itself; on an exchange between Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria and our co-chair of CTEWC, Vice-Provost Linda Hogan; and, on the three bishops who participated in the Conference. Later, Linda Hogan and I wrote an essay on Nairobi for the TABLET. That too is attached here.

While in Nairobi, the Planning Committee met and made some changes. First, we appointed Elias Omondi Opongo to succeed Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator as the chair of the African Regional Committee. Orobator will step down from the Planning Committee at our seminar in Berlin next summer. After the Conference, two members of the African Regional Committee stepped down: Victor Adangba, (Cote D'Ivoire) and Teresia Hinga (Kenya). They will be missed but they made the Nairobi Conference more memorable by their work of planning and their participation. THANK YOU Victor and Teresia! In light of their vacancy we invited three new members onto the African Regional Committee: Solange Ngah (Cameroon), Veronica Jemanyur Rop (Kenya) and Peter Knox (South Africa). 

Three members of the African Forum also stepped down: Nathaniel Soede (Benin) and Philomena Mwaura (Kenya) who both had papers at Nairobi and Veronica Rop, who joined the Regional Committee. THANK YOU Nathaniel, Philomena, and Veronica for your contributions! In turn three new members joined the African Forum: Marie-Rose Ndimbo (Democratic Republic of Congo), Anne Arabome (Nigeria) and Azetsop Jacquineau (Cameroon). Last month we featured Marie-Rose Ndimbo; this month, Anne Arabome.

The North Americans have formed two new groups. Planning Committee member Kristin Heyer as the Chair of the new North American Regional Committee has invited Christine Firer Hinze, Bryan Massingale, Christopher Vogt and Tobias Winright onto the committee. They have been making a great set of plans for that Region. For the North American Forum, Mary-Jo Iozzio has accepted our invitation to become Capo of that group with Nichole Flores, Mark Miller, and William Mattison III. Mary Jo launches their contributions with her essay on the upcoming US elections. WELCOME!

Finally, Antonio Autiero, Linda Hogan and I met in Berlin ten days ago to plan next June’s seminar in that great city, but we will report more news on that next month...

All the BEST! 


Nairobi: CTEWC in Africa After Trento: Engaging the African Synod

In the Media
National Catholic Reporter's Joshua MacElwee's essays:

First, “Hope, concrete realities the focus at gathering of African theologians”

And second, an article about our bishops who participated in the Nairobi conference, “African bishops speak openly of hard-hitting realities”

Linda Hogan and James F. Keenan, “Continent in Search of the Ethical Path," The Tablet, 15 September 2012, 10-11

New Additions to the Regional Committees

The African Regional Committee welcomes three new members:

Peter Knox SJ grew up in Johannesburg, studied in SA, UK and Canada and has worked in student chaplaincy, theological education and financial management. His PhD thesis brought together AIDS, soteriology and African religions. An enduring concern has been environmental issues. He is currently teaching systematic theology at Hekima College in Kenya.

Solange Ngah is a member of the Diocesan Congregation of the Sisters of Emmanuel Witnesses, Yaoundé, Cameroon. She is a recipient of a scholarship from CTEWC for African Women. Currently, she is studying moral theology at the University African Catholic Central Catholic Institute of Yaoundé-Cameroon. Her dissertation project is on "Charity as the root of Christian virtues for a just society: a good read works and alms of St. Cyprian of Carthage."

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. She curently is working on her dissertation entitled “Human Dignity: A Study on the Participation of Women in Integral Human Developent Among the Kalenjin in the Catholic Diocese of Eldoret.” She is also a receiptant of a CTEWC Scholarship for African women. She is also one of the contributors for CTEWC Newsletter African FORUM. She presented an essay entitled “Giving a Voice to African Women through Education” at the CTEWC Conference in Trento, 2010.

Solange, Veronica, and Peter join Elias Omondi Opongo (Kenya) and Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator (Nigeria/Kenya) on the African Regional Committee.

Introducing the North America Regional Committee

Kristin Heyer (Chair) is Bernard J. Hanley Professor at Santa Clara University (CA). She received her B.A. from Brown University and her Ph.D. in theological ethics from Boston College in 2003. She taught at Loyola Marymount University from 2003-2009 and joined the Santa Clara faculty in 2009. Her research focuses on the ethics of immigration, Catholic political engagement, moral agency and Christian social ethics.

Christine Firer Hinze is Co-Director of The Francis and Ann Curran Center for American Catholic Studies at Fordham University (NY). Her research interests include: Christian social ethics, Catholic social thought, liberationist and feminist ethics, foundational issues in Christian social ethics, power and social transformation, economic ethics in relation to work, family, and gender.

Bryan Massingale received his doctorate from the Accademia Alphonsium (Rome). He teaches courses on Catholic Social Thought, African American religious ethics, liberation theologies, and racial justice. His research focuses on stigmatized populations and the impact of religious faith as both a cause of social injustice and a resource for social transformation. His current research projects explore the contribution of Black religious radicalism to Catholic theology, the notion of "cultural sin" and its challenge to Catholic theological ethics, and the intersections of race and sexuality in Catholic faith and practice. He is the Past Convener of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium and a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America.

Chris Vogt teaches in the department of theology and in an interdisciplinary M.A. program in Global Development and Social Justice at St John’s University in New York City. His current research explores connections between virtue ethics and Catholic Social Thought, and how theological understandings of the church/world relationship affect the field of moral theology. In addition to writing for an academic audience, he is a contributor at catholicmoraltheology.com.

Tobias Winright (Ph.D., University of Notre Dame, M.Div., Duke University) possesses previous professional experience in law enforcement and youth ministry. While he teaches courses in fundamental moral theology and social ethics, he writes mostly about liturgical ethics, just war, peacemaking, environmental ethics, capital punishment, and police use of force.

CTEWC Forum: The United States, Malaysia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mexico

"Threats to Responsible Citizenship in the 2012 US Presidential Election"

The two principal threats to responsible citizenship are an uninformed/misinformed electorate and voter suppression.

Every four years, the US exhibits its commitment to the democratic experiment of a representative government. Among federal level politicians, only the Executive Office of the President has a two- term limit; members of the US Senate and House of Representatives may serve multiple consecutive or interrupted terms. The 2010 mid- term elections resulted in a divided Legislature, inspiring filibusters, partisan politics, and incivility in both congressional houses. The 2012 election will confirm four more years with the incumbent Democrat, President Barack Obama, or a new Republican administration lead by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Unsurprisingly, the stakes in the election have been reduced to sound bites on the economy and jobs, family values, and healthcare, social security and taxes. Unfortunately, sound bites fail to educate many voters sufficiently in their choice of leaders to serve the common good.

The Catholic Bishops of the US, like the public, are not immune to sound bites or campaign rhetoric nor silent on matters that support or thwart the teachings of the Church. As part of their magisterial role and in advance of Presidential elections, the USCCB issues a guide for Catholics in voter decision-making.    This year’ s guide, “Forming Consciences for Faithful    Citizenship,” underlines seven key themes of Catholic Social Teaching. However, the media and the campaigns skip the full integrity of the USCCB election guide as the din conflates Catholic teaching into concern for family values (particularly against marriage equality) and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (against employer insurance plan requirements for prohibited reproductive services). Sadly, this caricature fails the Catholic tradition, distorts the purpose of “Forming Consciences,” and polarizes the Catholic faithful. Sadder too, this caricature is co-opted by partisanship. The contrived divide circumvents responsibility and minimizes the opportunities that candidates would have to consider how the teaching could inform a platform that attends to economic justice for all, a consistent ethic of life, and solidarity.

In another challenge to responsibility, local governments fail to educate the public that every election is an election for officials whose terms of service are up or for referendums and amendments to policy: in a democracy, votes are needed regardless of party affiliation, open political seats, or constitutional changes. Additionally, voter suppression efforts to reduce election day polling effectively frustrate the ideals of representation: workday vs. weekend polling and the reduction of early voting days from 12 to 8 make exercising voter rights difficult for folks working long hours or multiple jobs; initiatives to purge non-citizens from the voting rolls are at best foolhardy and at worst anti-immigrant and racist; and re-districting in minority neighborhoods that includes changed polling locations denies many access to the ballot. The US Department of Justice has determined that these initiatives are discriminatory and therefore illegal.

Despite the Department of Justice determination, voter suppression continues. As many as 33 state legislatures have attempted stringent ID rules that effectively discourage voting by minorities and low-income families to the benefit of Republican candidates. Sadly, such tactics are de rigueur in US politics, they intimidate voters, they ignore the constitutional bases of a representative government, and they damage voter trust.

With only weeks to go before Election Day, the campaigns focus on the undecided who, from my experience as a neighborhood canvasser, promise to follow the televised debates but whose present awareness of the issues and the candidates’ positions seems as indeterminable as their indecision. An uninterested electorate may very well be a third and the most ruinous threat to responsible citizenship. In a land where voting is a right and a responsibility, misinformation and ignorance, voter suppression, and voter indifference confound the hope for a more perfect union where the common good prevails.

Mary Jo Iozzio is professor of moral theology at Barry University in Miami Shores, FL. She is co-editor of the Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics (2006- 2013), series editor of Content and Context in Theological Ethics (Palgrave Macmillan); principal editor of Calling for Justice throughout the World: Catholic Women Theologians on the HIV/AIDS Pandemic (Continuum, 2008), and editor of Considering Religious Traditions in Bioethics (University of Scranton Press, 1998); she is author of Self-determination and the Moral Act: A Study of the Contributions of Odon Lottin, OSB (Peeters Press, 1995) and Radical Dependence: A Theo-anthropological Ethic in the Key of Disability (University of Notre Dame Press, forthcoming). Mary Jo can be reached at miozzio@mail.barry.edu.

"To Cut Or Not To Cut: That Is Not The Question"

“I didn’t realise I had a choice”, stated Minni, a twenty-something Malay-Muslim, on being circumcised. She participated in the role play1 along with her peers and took on the role of the ‘woman’ who listens in on the conflicting arguments put forth by the following characters:

  • Government leader needing to implement the zero tolerance policy on female circumcision (“Female circumcision is defined as a form of Female Genital Mutilation. Our government ratified CEDAW2 albeit with reservations so we are held accountable or we’ll risk being blacklisted by human rights agencies”.)
  • A religious or village leader opposing the zero tolerance policy on female circumcision (“Circumcision is part of our cultural and religious identity. It’s simply a rite of initiation not only into adulthood but also the Muslim community at large”.)
  • A feminist health worker dissuading parents from circumcising their daughters (“It’s your daughter’s right to decide on the reproductive health of her body not yours”.)
  • A mother imparting the aims of the ritual of female circumcision to her daughter (“My mother did it. I did it. And so shall you, my child. There’s no pain, just a needle prick. It’s cleaner this way. And you’ll be more desirable to men when you grow up, when it’s time to marry and bear children”.)
  • A Government health official offering food and medical support for villages who do not circumcise their daughters (“Do not do this for love of your daughters. As an incentive, here’s food and medical supplies for those who are ready to leave ‘barbaric’3 cultural practices behind! It doesn’t make you less Muslim if you don’t circumcise your daughters”).

Pedagogically, the role play was designed to enable undergraduates (enrolled in a subject called ‘Genders, Sexualities and Religions in Southeast Asia’ that I had written) to experience the tension between the universalism of women’s human rights often positioned as secular at a global level that stands in opposition to cultural relativism practiced at a local level. And I am gratified that the learning objective was to a large extent realized as they were left with more questions that gently sidelined prior misconceptions:

  • Should FC be equated with FGM if it is not a harmful practice for the girl-child?  How can one bring conventions home so that human rights are recognizable as an
  • ‘Asian’ value?

Minni’s epiphany is, as such, instructive. As there should not be absolute answers to these particularized questions that need to be weighed within social-cultural specificities, the first and last guiding principle is that of choice. And the choice to uphold one’s bodily integrity can be both sustained by a rights and religious discourse.

1 Adapted from Mertus, Julie, Flowers, Nancy and Dutt, Mallika (1999) Local Action, Global Change: Learning About the Human Rights of Women and Girls. NY: UNIFEM and the Center for Women’s Global Leadership: 71. 
2 Convention on the Elimination Of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women which Malaysia ratified in 1995. 
3 Dina Zaman (2011) ‘FGM: It Happens in Malaysia Too’, The Malaysian Insider, February 3, 2011, accessed 27 August 2012, available at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/features/article/fgm-its-happens-in-malaysia-too/ According to Dina, neither the prevalence nor type of FC practised in Malaysia is clearly documented.

Sharon A Bong is Senior Lecturer in Gender Studies at the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University, Malaysia. She is author of The Tension Between Women’s Rights and Religions: The Case of Malaysia (2006) and former Coordinator of the Ecclesia of Women in Asia, an academic forum of Catholic women theologizing in Asia. She is also a member of the Asian Regional Committee of the Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church.

"Telling Our Own Stories: Seven Women, Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit"

I am woman
I am African 
My beads mark my presence 
Beads of wisdom, beads of sweat 
I am woman 
I am Bota 
The precious black bead 
Skillfully crafted from black stone 
I do not speak much but I am not without a voice 
The authentic black bead does not rattle noisily 
I am an African woman, wearing beads ground 
By Anowa and from the womb of Anowa 
Other beads I have which do not belong to her 
They have come from over the seas 
They are glass and easily shattered 
Created by humans they can be ground 
back to powder and remodeled. 
I am woman 
I am African 
Here I sit—not idle 
But busy stringing my beads. 
My beads mark my presence 
And when I am gone My beads will remain

This poem by the matriarch of African theology, Mercy Amba Oduyoye, reveals the profound yearning that African women have to become wholly themselves. It embodies and expresses a journey that all women take, a journey that moves women through hazardous fears and foreboding shadows. Every woman is looking for her true self – a beautiful self, endowed with dignity, and worthy of respect. Each is claiming her right to a place in humanity’s story. For the women of Africa who carry the heart and soul of Africa in their very being, the challenges confronting them include massive resistance on the part of culture, tradition, church, and the impregnable walls of patriarchy.

The recently concluded Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church Expert Seminar held in Nairobi, Kenya, was an experience of cascading new life. The seven beneficiaries of the CTEWC scholarship for the advanced training of African women in theological ethics represent the hope that beckons to all who still believe and hope in Africa at this time in history. On reflection, I see the seven women as metaphor for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit – gifts to the church in Africa and the World Church. I say this, because these seven women are a microcosm of the graces, charisms, and gifts that the Spirit confers on the community called church. In a unique way, they are a partial answer to Linda Hogan’s question to Archbishop John Onaiyekan regarding women: “What gifts might the church be missing by not including women in ordained ministries?” I would add: what might the World Church be missing by not welcoming and celebrating all the gifts that women bring in Africa and beyond?

The African woman echoes the cry of all women whose hearts yearn to be fulfilled, fully and completely, and in the process reveal the glory and the beauty of the One who has created and formed them in love. It was a joyful experience to hear the many voices of women at our gathering in Nairobi. It gave me hope for the future of the African and the World church. As Oduyoye remarks in her poem, “my beads mark my presence... beads of wisdom, beads of sweat”.

Through the labor and giftedness of African women, lay and religious, the beads of wisdom and sweat will bear fruit in the future. These beads, these efforts, will not be lost but will remain as testimony to the gifts of African women’s minds and hearts. The march is on: “Let anyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Revelation 2:7). As African women in the World Church, our voice, our “authentic black bead does not rattle noisily....” but it is there!

Anne Arabome, a member of the Sisters of Social Service of Los Angeles, California, is originally from Nigeria. She holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Catholic Theological Union (Chicago, Illinois). Recently, she was a visiting scholar at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. She is currently pursuing her second doctorate at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

"La juventud estudiantil refresca el compromiso ético social."
“Si no ardemos juntos, ¿Quién iluminará esta oscuridad? Por una democracia auténtica “#Yo Soy 132”

Víctor pensaba que ese 11 de mayo de 2012 sería un viernes normal en la Ibero, es decir, un día tranquilo en el cual por haber empezado ya el fin de semana habría menos alumnos en la universidad. Probablemente por eso los asesores del candidato del Partido Revolucionario Institucional, Enrique Peña Nieto, habían cambiado la fecha de su visita a la Universidad Iberoamericana de la Ciudad de México. De este modo, lo que parecía un día de campo en su campaña política sería todavía más apacible. Tendría un auditorio respetuoso y atento a sus propuestas, un auditorio que seguramente presentaría las demandas para que la clase pudiente tuviera un ambiente alejado de la inseguridad, los secuestros, con mayor estabilidad económica y, por lo menos, con el narcotráfico sometido a un control que hiciera manejable a la sociedad.

Por los problemas de rezago educativo causados por la mala alimentación que Víctor vio en las prácticas profesionales que había hecho en el barrio de Santa Fe, muy cerca de la Ibero durante el tercer semestre de la licenciatura en Nutrición, y por el perfil humanista de la Universidad que insistía en la importancia de la justicia social, él sabía que existían muchos motivos para reclamarle al candidato mediático de un partido que gobernó el país por más de 70 años. Aunque la mayor parte de los reclamos podrían venir del grupo de estudiantes que estaban enterados de la salvaje represión que el candidato infringió a los campesinos de San Salvador Atenco, durante su gestión como gobernador del Estado de México; un Estado donde aumentaban de forma alarmante los feminicidios.

Pero como el mismo Víctor comentó ocho días después a los reporteros que cubrían la primera marcha en apoyo a los 131 estudiantes de la Ibero amenazados como él, el catalizador del "viernes negro" del candidato de la mayor televisora del país fue el infiltrar jóvenes que no eran universitarios para que lo vitorearan, ofrecieran dinero a quienes llevaban pancartas de crítica para que no las mostraran o para que desistieran de formular preguntas incómodas. Esto provocó que el candidato del PRI fuera perseguido por los estudiantes al salir del auditorio al terminar su discurso, y que tuviera que abandonar la Universidad escondido por sus guardias de seguridad. Con el escándalo obvio que esto provocaría en los medios de comunicación. Por la tarde de ese mismo día, el presidente del PRI y algunos medios aseguraron que los manifestantes no eran estudiantes sino gente traída de fuera de la Universidad. Entonces, Víctor y otros 130 estudiantes grabaron un video en el que mostraban su valor civil dando sus nombres, su número de cuenta de la universidad y mostraban su credencial de la Ibero para reafirmar su rechazo a la manipulación mediática que sufre la nación, a la falta de democracia en el país y su repudio a que Peña Nieto llegara a ser presidente de México, con todo lo que el priísmo representa para la conciencia nacional.

Pero lo que a Víctor le ha impresionado más que el anecdotario antes descrito, es la forma cómo al principio cientos, y ahora miles de jóvenes estudiantes de universidades públicas y privadas, y de diferentes estratos sociales, se han aglutinado en el movimiento “#YO SOY 132” a nivel nacional, no sólo para exigir las demandas antes mencionadas sino para sumarse a las reivindicaciones de otros sectores, como son el sindicalismo democrático, el sector obrero y el campesinado.

Para Víctor y para muchos de nosotros, aunque no ha sido poco el haber promovido un gran movimiento social no sólo de jóvenes que sacudió al país del letargo electoral previo a las elecciones, que demostró que los jóvenes de diferentes clases sociales pueden unirse por las mejores causas nacionales, que tienen una profunda conciencia ética social aderezada por la luz de la inteligencia, que es posible que la sociedad civil organice debates entre los candidatos de los diferentes partidos políticos y se involucre en la vida pública reservada a la élites partidistas, el movimiento nacional e internacional “#YO SOY 132” anuncia que, pese a la represión que algunos de sus miembros ya han sufrido en diversas zonas del país, y aunque gobierne el PRI por otros seis años en México, si queremos, otro tiempo vendrá.

"Queremos dividir al país, en antes y después". “#Yo Soy 132” http://www.yosoy132.org

Miguel Ángel Sánchez Carlos (angel.sanchez@uia.mx) is a Doctor in Theology from the Theological Faculty of Granada, Spain. Master of Theology from theCatholic University of Lyon, France. He teaches moral theology at the Department of Religious Studies at the Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City. He is a member of the Espacio de Pastoral Urbana de México, awhere he works on a variety of publications and editor of the Revista Iberoamericana de Teología.

Latin America Regional Committee Report

The Continental Congress of Theology takes place this month in UNISINOS, Sao Leopoldo, Brazil. This historic gathering commemorates the 50th anniversary of Vatican II and its lived witness in Latin America, and the 40th anniversary of Gustavo Gutiérrez’s A Theology of Liberation. Emilce Cuda (Argentina), member of the Latin America planning committee for CTEWC, will represent CTEWC and present a paper. We look forward to a report from Emilce on this gathering. Please do send us your report if you or a colleague attend this meeting.

Chile – Claudia Leal announces the final defense of her dissertation in moral theology (Alfonsianum, Rome). She now joins the Theology Faculty at the Pontifical Catholic University in Chile. She will be teaching courses in fundamental moral theology for graduate students in Theology and the general undergraduate population.

Chile – Tony Misfud announces the launch of his new book Decisiones Responsables: Una ética de Discernimiento, from the Ethics Center of the Universidad Alberto Hurtado.

Argentina – Juan Francisco Leal announces the defense of his dissertation in moral theology: “Empistemology and Method of Moral Theology as key in the pluralist and secular dialogue according to the Bioethics of Javier Gafo.” The dissertation was directed by Humberto Miguel Yañez, with Tony Mifsud and Maria Marta Cúneo as members of the dissertation committee.

Argentina – Juan Francisco Leal comparte: El 24 de agosto se realizó la defensa de mi tesis doctoral en teología moral: “Epistemología y Método de la Teología Moral en clave de diálogo plural y secular según la Bioética Teológica de Javier Gafo,” director de tesis Humberto Miguel Yáñez sj, miembros del tribunal María Márta Cúneo C.Ss.R. y Tony Mifsud sj.

Argentina – Gustavo Irrazábal announces the publication of his book Ética de la Sexualidad, Ed. Ágape, Buenos Aires (2012). He also wrote a commentary in Crtierio: “La fe cristianan y el desafío del emotivismo,” Criterio 2383 (2012): 44-46. http://www.revistacriterio.com.ar/iglesia/la-fe-cristiana-y-el-desafio-del-emotivismo/
Also in Criterio (2376), his essay “Mater et Magistra: Mirar la sociedad con realism y esperanza,” was published in 2011: 37-39.

MT Davila, Chair

Asian Regional Committee Report

Conference on Computer-mediated Communication and Theology will be held in Mindanao, the Philippines

The DaKaTeo (Catholic Theological Society of the Philippines) will be holding its annual conference on the theme “Casting Nets on a New Sea of Galilee: Computer-Mediated Communication and Theology” on October 19-21, 2012 in SEARSOLIN, Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao. To be released in the conference is the publication of last year’s conference papers on Art and Theology at the Crossroads? Hapag: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Theological Research. Please visit their website for further details: http://dakateo.webs.com/

Lúcás Chan, Chair

October 2012
Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church

Nonprofit Web Design and Development by New Media Campaigns