September 2014

Welcome to the FIRST

The newsletter of Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church

Dear Friends,


I hope this finds you well.


We took a break for July and August.  Next year we will only do a one-month break, August. 


But there is so much to report.


On June 12, 2014 Sister Ojo Anthonia Bolanle, SSMA, defended her dissertation at the Catholic Institute of West Africa, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.  She became the first member of the CTEWC African Women's Doctoral Program to defend her dissertation.  Read her own report on the defense in our Forum below but see the photos of her defense and her success right below this letter.


If you want to congratulate her on her defense, you can write her at  


Also, in early June we learned that Sr. Annah Nyadombo, the first African sister to do her PhD in Theological Ethics (her degree is from Trinity College Dublin; she was not in the CTEWC cohort), has published her first book:  A HOLISTIC PASTORAL APPROACH TO HIV/AIDS SUFFERERS: Reduction of Stigmatisation in Zimbabwe.  You can see the details.


If you want to congratulate Sr. Annah, you can write her at 


Sadly, Fr. Klaus Demmer, MSC, died on July 18, 2014.  Many were his students.  I wrote a brief essay on him for Commonweal's blog, linked also in this newsletter.


Finally, we are getting ready for a conference of about 50 European theological ethicists in Krakow, Poland on November 14-16.  Konrad Glombik, Roman Globokar and I are the organizers.  More, in next month's newsletters.


There is much in this newsletter, Reports from each of the regions and great forum pieces by Sister Ojo, Sharon Bong, Pablo Blanco, Konrad Glombik and Carolyn Chau.  There are also new books by Dietmar Mieth and Katharina Westerhorstmann and calls for papers from both Europe and India.


I hope you are all thriving despite the enormous struggles that are happening in our world.  As we work with one another, let us pray for one another as well.






Sister OJO ANTHONIA BOLANLE, SSMA! The first Doctoral graduate of CTEWC. 



Sr. Ojo, Anthonia Bolanle B. SSMA, a beneficiary of Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church's scholarship is a professed member of an indigenous congregation of women in Nigeria, known as Sisters of Saint Michael the Archangel, founded by Bishop Michael Fagun in 1986. She made her first and final professions in the same congregation in 1994 and 2000 respectively.


She had her first degree in 2004 and second degree in 2011 from the Catholic Institute of West Africa, Port Harcourt, Nigeria. In her Masters thesis, entitled "Electronic Media and Moral Formation of Youth in Ekiti State in the Light of Ethics in Communication 16", she explored how the youth in the present information age are negatively influenced through unmonitored access to the negative contents of the media.


Thanks to the CTEWC scholarship for the advancement of African women in theological ethics. Having being awarded the scholarship, she enrolled in a PhD programme at the same Institution in 2011 and on 12th June 2014 with the help of God, successfully defended her doctoral dissertation entitled: HUMAN DIGNITY IN REDEMPTOR HOMINIS 14: A MORAL THEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION IN THE NIGERIAN CONTEXT. In this dissertation, she investigates the numerous challenges to the dignity of the human person in Nigeria in contemporary society. She describes how human persons in Nigeria suffer joblessness, malnutrition, poverty, insecurity of lives and property, violation of human rights and lack of basic needs necessary to uphold his/her dignity. All these are attributed to bad leadership and poor management of the natural resources that the country is endowed with. Unjust structures have led to all sorts of immorality in the society, including arbitrary killings, kidnappings/abduction, sexual violence, bombing among others. Regrettably, these unjust structures are not limited to the civil society but are also glaringly obvious in some evidences of social injustice in the Church in Nigeria. Investigating these in the light of the teaching of John Paul II in Redemptor Hominis that the human person, created in the image of God and redeemed by Christ, should be at the centre of every developmental progress in society. She argues that if social development is geared towards promoting the common good, and the human person is placed at the centre of the transformations and advancements in the Nigerian society, then the country will be a better place for the people to live a dignified life.


At the successful completion of her doctoral programme, she is grateful to God for good health and strength she enjoyed throughout the period of her studies. She is grateful to her family and congregation for their support and in a special way, she is sincerely grateful to CTEWC for the privilege granted her by awarding her a scholarship for her doctoral studies and other privileges she enjoys from them.


God bless CTEWC family!

God bless CTEWC benefactors and benefactresses!!

God bless CTEWC!!

REV. Sr. Dr. Anthonia Bolanle Ojo, SSMA.


Highlighted Publication:
Sr Annah Nyadombo, the first African sister to do her PhD in Theological Ethics (her degree is from Trinity College Dublin) has published her first book:  A HOLISTIC PASTORAL APPROACH TO HIV/AIDS SUFFERERS: Reduction of Stigmatisation in Zimbabwe

Published by : LAP Lambert Academic Publishing  19 May 2014

ISBN: 978-3-659-52078-5

To purchase online visit the website below:

In Memoriam: Klaus Demmer 1931-2014

In September 1982, I moved to Rome to do a licentiate and a doctorate at the Gregorian University. I wanted to study with Josef Fuchs, SJ, who had just retired but told me he would direct my dissertation. He suggested that in preparation for the degree I should do my licentiate course work and thesis with Klaus Demmer, MSC. A fellow Jesuit studying at the Gregorian told me that many thought Demmer, who died July 18 at the age of eighty-three, the greatest European moral theologian of his generation. I had never heard of him.

Fuchs and Demmer proved to be very different from each other: Fuchs was clever and friendly, hosting doctoral students in the Gregorian's dining room and then later in his room where we would retire to drink and share stories. Demmer was shy and frail; the only time I went to his room was to discuss my licentiate. None of us socialized with him; if we discussed anything with him, it was usually a recent lecture of his.


It was in the main aula of the Gregorian where Demmer was in his element. Before his lecture, he would pace back and forth across the enormous foyer collecting his thoughts. At the break, he would do the same. We never interrupted him because we knew that his lectures to the two hundred of us would be memorable. More than thirty years later, they remain so.

Demmer invited us into the very deep world of fundamental morals. He would begin by reminding us of the Augustinian insight that God was closer to us than we were to ourselves. There he would show us the roots of moral theology, our relationship with God, with ourselves, and with one another.


Truth, too, was closer to us than we were to ourselves. We were called by God to get to that truth. Truth was not a set of statements or assertions then, but a life lived. 


For Demmer, the goal of moral theology was to help each person build up a true moral life; the Christian, he wrote, makes "her life history a project aiming at the vision of God." All moral guidance, then, depends not on concepts or oft-repeated rules or norms but on the "life histories on which people have reflected." For him, then, every ethical insight was fundamentally an existential one.


Born in Germany in 1931, Demmer knew from the outset that life was a struggle. He presumed conflict in life, became suspicious when moral tensions were not apparent, and recognized that these conflicts have their own embodied, complicated histories. In this world of conflict, Demmer found the freedom of the cross; there the God of providence through the death and resurrection of Jesus concretely freed us from sin and death. The theologian's reflection on this event of Christ is central: "It is impossible to think more radically than this of the conflictual history of humanity."


His ethics of a life lived in truth was hardly triumphalistic. The right realization of "human existence begins with the admission of one's own weakness." Precisely in our struggles, we encounter the cross and therein the liberating presence of God. The Christian life story then has, to use a typical Demmer phrase, "theophantic traits."


Demmer urged us, as future moral theologians, continuously to witness to the thick and complicated lives human beings actually live. But he warned us that those in our field rarely did. "The existential problems under which people suffer silently tend to be inconspicuous. They remain in silence and play scarcely any role in the public academic arena."


Demmer wanted us to know where we as teachers should start. He had a similar concern about where to start with episcopal teaching. When asked should bishops take public stances on moral issues, he argued that bishops should attend to their primary charge: to remind all Christians that they each had a conscience to be followed. If bishops spent their moral energy on this, then maybe the People of God would get somewhere. But he felt that bishops neglected this. Still, one would ask, what if bishops did preach, teach, and admonish all their communities to follow their consciences, could they still take moral stances and urge Christians to follow this or that course of action? Demmer would remind the bishops that their second task was to instruct Christians that knowing they had to follow their consciences, now they needed to form their consciences. Because conscience-formation was not first about knowledge, but about living, they had to form their consciences by becoming better people, more competent to living and doing the truth. Demmer would remind them, however, that this second task was a life-long one, and getting started on the right road was a long process. ("It takes time to gain a foothold in truthfulness," he once wrote.) But, Demmer would then be asked, if bishops did teach us to follow and form our consciences, could they then take moral stances? Exasperated, he would say: I don't think if they did their two primary tasks, they would have much time for that.


Years later, Georgetown University Press translated and published two of his more than forty books, including his masterpiece, Living the Truth. When I learned that Klaus died this past week, I thought of how apt the title was and of the extraordinary influence he had on me and on all those who sat in that hall where he lectured for more than forty years.


Klaus Demmer with Renzo Pegoraro at Padova Conference, 2006
CTEWC Forums from Latin America, Europe, Asia, and North America
Regional News

North America: Kristin Heyer


This June the North American committee launched a three-year interest group at the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA) annual meeting in San Diego: "Beyond Trento: North American Moral Theology in a Global Church." The interest group considers how understanding CTSA members' work as taking place in a global church should transform the shape of North American theological discourse and ethical praxis.  Its inaugural session featured two presentations by North American scholars considering how cross-cultural experiences shape their research and teaching, with a response from a non-US perspective.


In her presentation, "Theological Research Across Cultures," Anna Floerke Sheid discussed the challenges of magnifying marginalized cultures without engaging intellectual colonialism via the analogy of comparative theology, and proposed three primary reasons for pursuing such dialogue: furthering the catholicity of the Church; fruitfully (re)shaping the theologian's perceptions; and revealing assumptions that impact one's interpretations of theo-ethical concepts. Drawing upon Congolese theologian Bénézet Bujo, she suggested that the church's catholicity is compromised to the extent that it reifies methods that fail to resonate in (nonwestern) cultural contexts, such as natural law theory (and, conversely, fails to include cultural insights of entire continents). She indicated ways in which her own immersion in the South African context altered her lenses as a North American theological ethicist via examples of operative anthropologies and notions of forgiveness. Bryan Massingale's presentation, "The Challenge of Global Voices in Teaching Ethics," focused upon a case study of using an essay of Bénézet Bujo on reasoning in African ethics in a master's level Fundamental Moral Theology course. Bujo's reflection on the constitutive nature of relationships for human personhood led to unforeseen yet provocative questions from his students: whether the course was an exercise of intellectual hegemony if this was the only unit where such a voice was present; and how taking this understanding of personhood seriously might revamp the discipline of moral theology itself..  He highlighted the dangers of intellectual tokenism and "marginalization by inclusion" if heretofore missing global voices are used in such a way that the basic structure of the "mainstream" discourse remains unchallenged and its normative assumptions are still considered (falsely) universal. 


Lúcás Chan responded to Anna and Bryan's presentations in light of his own experiences as an Asian Catholic ethicist (from Hong Kong) trained in North America and teaching outside of his home continent.  He cautioned that the reality of being born into an intellectual world that was already multi-culturally engaged means that engaging cross-cultural theology is not limited to the traditional east-west, north-south dichotomy. He compared the classical Confucianism's anthropo-cosmic worldview to the African concept of relational personhood, and he traced three epochs of doing theological ethics based upon his own experiences. In closing Lúcás highlighted CTEWC's newly launched visiting professorship program as an organized platform for promoting the global engagement advocated in the presentations. A more thorough synopsis of the papers appears in the forthcoming CTSA proceedings.


60 participants engaged in robust discussion following the presentation, considering strategies for deepening cross-cultural engagement and its challenges to the discipline. At the culmination of the lively session, Linda Hogan gifted copies of the newly released Feminist Catholic Theological Ethics: Conversations in the World Church to officially launch the volume. She also gifted several copies at the convention's women's consultation on constructive theology, given its theme of feminist intercultural theologies. We invite you to join the ongoing "Beyond Trento" conversation at the 2015 CTSA in Milwaukee, Wisconsin next June.




Asia Region: Lucas Chan


Progress on preparation of the upcoming Asian Cross-cultural Conference for Catholic Theological Ethicists held in Bangalore, India, on July 17-20, 2015.


As a continuation of CTEWC's overall goal and a preparation for the Third International Cross-cultural Conference for Catholic Theological Ethicists in 2018, the purpose of this conference is to fortify relations among Catholic moralists across national and linguistic boundaries within Asia, and to support a young generation of Asian Catholic theological ethicists. We expect eighty moral theologians from different parts of Asia to participate.


The specific, twofold theme of this conference is "doing Catholic theological ethics in cross-cultural and interfaith Asian context." We believe this conference to be extremely important for doing Catholic theological ethics in Asia, and so we have invited scholars and church leaders from various parts of Asia to share with us their insights and experiences at different occasions: During the three day conference there will be full plenary sessions, concurrent sessions, interest groups, and less formal mixed group discussions. Two public lectures will be organized on July 20 as well.


We are very glad to announce that two Asian bishops (outside India) have accepted our invitation to participate in the conference already. One of them will be the speaker of the first public lecture and the other will speak to us in the plenary interest group session. The second public lecture speaker and over half of the plenary speakers also have accepted our invitation. A website for this conference is under construction and hope to be launched no later than the end of October. Invitation letters to participants and call for papers memo will be sent out in due time.


Seminar on Family Life in Bangalore, India


The Department of Moral Theology of Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram (DVK), Bangalore will be organizing a one-day seminar on September 13 on "The Christian Vision of the Family and Family Life Today."


The seminar is an initiative to respond to a "widespread cultural, social and spiritual crisis" of the family by relooking and understanding the Christian vision of the family and family life, rediscovering God's original plan and design for man and woman when He instituted the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, and re-establishing this original plan of God and work collectively against forces threatening the very institution of marriage and family life today.

It is also an effort to involve and conscientise the local Church in the exercise of the Universal Church as the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops meets in October 2014 to discuss the "Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelisation."


The seminar will discuss various issues concerning Family and Family life and address factors affecting or threatening family life today, and will focus on four main areas: Christian vision of the family, crisis of family life, challenges for family today, and the call to holiness through moral and spiritual formation.

It will be held in PKM Auditorium, DVK's Research Centre.

For further information, please contact Fr Joseph Royan C.Ss.R #9945218087 or Fr Keni Philomin Raj #8277754878.


Publications by our regional committee members:

Agnes M. Brazal and Kochurani Abraham, eds., Feminist Cyberethics in Asia: Religious Discourses on Human Connectivity (New York: Palgrave Mcmillan 2014).

Agnes M. Brazal, "Feminism in Africa and the World Church," East Asian Pastoral Review 51, no. 1 (2014): 29-40.




Notice of CTEWC Member Publications


Dialogic Catholicity. Social Teachings of the Catholic Church

"As of those fortunate who experienced the meeting of Padova (2006), Manila (2009), and Trento (2010), humbly I am sharing to you and friends of Catholic Ethicists about new publication of Social Teachings of the Catholic Church (in Indonesian Language). The publication is meant for the Catholics as well as those from other faiths who want to learn with love the social teachings of the Catholic Church."

328 pages

 Publisher: Kanisius, Yogyakarta 2014

The book discusses several topics concerning social teaching and its connection with interreligious and intercultural dialogue within the Indonesian context, such as:

> - Panorama of Documents of the Social Teaching
> - Twelve principles of the Social Teaching
> - Formation of Christian charity
> - Education of Peace in Indonesia
> - Catholics and Politics and historical integration in Indonesia
> - Challenge of relativism in Christian education and
> - Catholicity and dialogue
> - Doing theology of dialogue in Indonesia
> - Education of intercultural dialogue 





Meister Eckhart, Dietmar Mieth 



Call for Papers:

Call for Papers for articles in the open section in the Jahrbuch für Christliche Sozialwissenschaften 56/2015


The Jahrbuch für Christliche Sozialwissenschaften is now accepting manuscripts for its volume 56 (2015). The deadline for manuscript submission is January 31, 2015.


The Jahrbuch edited at the Institute for Christian Social Sciences at the University of Munster is the leading publication in Catholic social ethics in the German speaking area. Its aim is to analyze and evaluate the ethical challenges on an advanced scientific level and in an interdisciplinary fashion. Each volume contains a thematic section as well as a thematic open section.


The Jahrbuch is published annually. The print version is available through Aschendorff-Verlag (Münster), the online version makes all articles available after a period of 12 months (open access). Further information on the Jahrbuch are available on:


We welcome submission to the field of social ethics for the volume 56 (2015) to thematic open section. Submissions will be subject to a double blind peer review process.


Complete manuscripts in English or German can be accepted only if they have not been published before and have not been submitted for the publication elsewhere. Based on the peer review process whose criteria are social ethical perspective, theoretical basis, relevance of the question, originality, appropriate method and approach, and clarity of the contribution, the editor will decide on publication. In each print version of the Jahrbuch, three articles can be published.


The manuscript guidelines are available on:


We welcome your submission via email ( We are looking forward to your contribution.

Call for Papers:

Asian Horizons, Dharmaram Journal of Theology

Vol. 8, No. 3, September 2014

Call for Papers



After 50 Years: Dialogue with Other Churches; Dialogue with Religions

"Dialogue" is one of the keywords for understanding the spirit of the Second Vatican Council - dialogue with other Churches, dialogue with other religions, dialogue with cultures, dialogue with the world. September 2014 issue of Asian Horizons invites to reflect on two important areas of dialogue that the Council calls for, namely, dialogue with other Churches and dialogue with religions.


The restoration of unity among all Christians was one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Besides "the enlightenment, edification and joy of the entire Christian people," the aims of the Council included "a renewed cordial invitation to the faithful of the separated Churches to participate with us in this feast of grace and brotherhood, for which so many souls long in all parts of the world." Unitatis Redintegratio, the Decree on Ecumenism is the fruit of this ardent desire of the Council from its inception.


Nostra Aetate, the Declaration on the Relations of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, was one of the surprises of the Council, as it had not been foreseen in the preparatory agenda. The Declaration shows the growing awareness in the Council of plurality of religions and the need of striving towards the unity of humanity. Both these documents have been followed up with subsequent documents.


In the September 2014 issue of Asian Horizons we hope to include 4-6 articles each on Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue. The articles can be on:

A critical appraisal of Nostra Aetate or Unitatis Redintegratio; their relevance today; a critical appraisal of post-Vatican II official teaching on ecumenism and interreligious dialogue; new initiatives and challenges ahead in ecumenism/interreligious dialogue.


As usual, we welcome other articles on any area of theological interest and research.


Please send your articles (4500-5000 words, including the footnotes) latest by 25 September 2014. Kindly include the abstract of the article in 100-150 words and a short resumè of the author.


Other regular items: "New Scholars": Abstract of doctoral theses (recently defended and not yet published); book reviews.


For more details: Shaji George Kochuthara (editor-in-chief):



Asian Horizons, Dharmaram Journal of Theology

Themes: 2014-2015

2014: Vol 8

March: After 50 Years: Eastern Churches

June: Reflections on the Synod on the Family

September: After 50 Years: Dialogue with Religions; Dialogue with Other Churches

December: Migration & Poverty


2015: Vol 9

March: After 50 Years: Ongoing Renewal of Moral Theology

June: Asia's Women Theologians

September: After 50 Years: Apostolate of Lay People; Towards Future

December: Ethics, Theology and Technology

In This Issue
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Browse Resources
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Jim Keenan S.J.



Claudio Quintana



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