End Nuclear Weapons!

By Neilan D’souza

The discovery of Nuclear energy was one of the greatest discoveries of mankind. Being able to produce so much energy from such a small source was truly a break through discovery. But as time went by and newer discoveries being made on how to maximize the effect of this energy along with the World War situation the whole notion of Nuclear energy shifted from being a clean source of energy generation for Earth to a Weapon of mass destruction.

Everyone knows about the Hiroshima and Nagasaki incident which took place around 77 years ago on August 6th and 9th, 1945; where more than 200,000 people in Hiroshima and more than 140,000 in Nagasaki died a very tragic and suffering death. We cannot imagine the pain of those thousands of people who experienced that death or being vaporized in seconds due to the blast of the atomic bomb dropped on them by the USA during WW2.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombing/Photo:Historia Daily

UN research says that today around 12,705 nuclear weapons remain. The Countries which possess such weapons have well-funded, long-term plans to modernize their nuclear arsenals. Even shocking is that more than half of the world’s population still lives in these countries that either have such weapons or are members of nuclear alliances. While the number of deployed nuclear weapons has appreciably declined since the height of the Cold War, not one nuclear weapon has been physically destroyed pursuant to a treaty. In addition, no nuclear disarmament negotiations are currently underway.

If just 2 atomic bombs are capable of such destruction with the technology back in 1945 imagine how much more worse it can be in this era. With the ongoing Russia Ukaraine war, China – Taiwan tensions, India – Pakistan, North and South Korea, Israel – Palestine conflicts there are just a few countries who are also strong Nuclear Powers pose very dangerous situations ahead to people living here.

Achieving global nuclear disarmament is one of the oldest goals of the United Nations. It was the subject of the General Assembly’s first resolution in 1946, which established the Atomic Energy Commission (dissolved in 1952), with a mandate to make specific proposals for the control of nuclear energy and the elimination of atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction.

Rusia and Ukraine War/Photo:CNN

The United Nations has been at the forefront of many major diplomatic efforts to advance nuclear disarmament since. Even Pope Francis on his visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2019 condemned the use and possession of nuclear weapons by any state as “immoral”, and urged support for “the principal international legal instruments of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, including the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”. He said that international peace cannot rest on a balance of military power, but must be based on mutual trust, and that a world without nuclear weapons is “possible and necessary”. Therefore as we commemorate the International day for total elimination of Nuclear Weapons on the 26th of September as a Church lets us stand together, united with our neighbour religions and every citizen to oppose the National interests in our countries which praise Nuclear Weaponry, Nuclear Research and Nuclear power generation, so that we can put an end to re-occurrence of Nuclear disasters.*

Flood In Pakistan

By Ashiknaz Khokhar (Human Rights Activist)

Pakistan is facing massive flood due to moonsoon catastrophe since mid of June. More than 70% areas of Pakistan is affected with flood. Approximately 40 millions population affected by this flood and according to the data of National Disaster Management Authority Pakistan more than 1500 people died due to flood disaster. Womens, Children, Senior citizens and disabled people are mostly in the list who losses their lives. Huge number of livestocks died and hundreds of bridges destroyed. 2 million houses, Hundreds of hotels and more than 12735 KM roads destroyed. Four provinces of Pakistan (Punjab, Sindh, KPK and Balochistan) are badly damaged.

Prime Minister of Pakistan declared emergency in the country and call upon the international community for help Pakistan during this hard time. General Secretary of UNO visited Pakistan and told the international community that Pakistan is facing humanitarian crises and call upon all agencies to help Pakistan. He also said that this is just a start of destruction due to climate change if world is not taking proper measures this will expand on bigger level.

Pope Francis also appeal in His sermon that Pakistan is in need so we all should come forward to help brothers and sisters in Pakistan. Many NGOs and organizations are helping the flood victims to rescue them from the water and giving them safe place to stay. Unfortunately this destruction is on so big scale that people are not getting any shelter. 

In some of the areas water going down but there are now diseases taking place like diaheria, malayeria and skin diseases. There is also shortage of medicine and medical staff.  In recent weeks there are hundred of people get the snake bites and this mostly happening with kids. More than 47000 women’s are pregnant which are going to give birth in few days but there are not proper hospitals for them.

Fr. Zahid Augustine, parish priest of sacred heart church and In charge of Active Youth Group said that He never saw this kind of natural disaster before and he call upon pariahners to help the flood affectees. Ashiknaz Khokhar, executive Secretary of Active Youth Group holds fund raising camp in several areas and reaching to affectees areas with cook food, medicines and ration bags.*

Promoting Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue for Common Good: Challenges for Young Catholics in Indonesia

By Novita Sari

ALL Forum with Pemuda Katolik Indonesia have organized an Online Course with the theme “Promoting Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue for the Common Good: Challenges for Catholic Young People in Indonesian Context.” This online course was carried out for 4 meetings with topics including Extremism of young people, globalization and the role of the media, interfaith education and the last one being challenges and opportunities. The main speaker, Father JB. Heru Prakosa, SJ who is an advisor to the Commission on Religious Relations with Muslims under the Pontifical Council for Interfaith Dialogue, and two Muslim religious leaders were invited as responders.

The first week session opened with an explanation of the demographics of young people and the current conditions in Indonesia. We learnt that although Indonesia has a large population of youth, they have been vulnerable to all the events that have occurred here. Father Heru as the speaker gave reasons why extremism can occur, among others, because of 3 emptinesses, namely: emptiness of mind due to limitations in critical thinking, emptiness of the heart because of not being able to face existing differences, and an empty stomach due to social economic problems that make a person want to do anything for money.

Furthermore, in the second week, there was a theme discussing how globalization and the role of the media has contributed to fostering differences and created more spaces of conflict. Often people think that they themselves are God. This solely wrong and considers ‘Others’ as different from ‘Us’, and this gives rise to negative sentiments towards other groups. As youth, we are invited to be aware of this and be able to use the media as a means of reporting this misunderstanding.

The third week’s material was about interfaith education; where there were tips on how we should proceed- firstly from understanding our own contexts, then learning about differences among others and how we can evaluate what we have done. The fourth week, which was the last week, Father Heru explained the challenges and opportunities that can be utilized by young people in promoting interfaith dialogue.

The interesting thing about this online course was that speakers from outside the catholic religion also gave their views on the topic or theme in terms of personal experience or knowledge of their religion. This increased and further enriched my knowledge. Like the 3rd meeting with the speaker from the Muhammadiyah figure, Nugroho Noto Susanto, I came to know that they also learned from catholicism and applied it to their institutions whose results were good. This reassures me that whatever good deeds we do will definitely have benefits for others and it will be a bridge of humanity for those in need.

According to Kyai Ahmad Suaedy, who is a responder of Nahdlatul Ulama, nowadays people are religious to distinguish themselves from others, there is a change in religion, where previously to accept others now it is precisely to build identity. Differences are inevitable but we can learn. There is nothing wrong and nothing is in vain if we try to learn and understand the differences that exist because from this a sense of humanity can arise so as to reduce humanitarian conflicts with religious backgrounds that in recent times continue to occur in Indonesia.

The challenges for us are still many, even greater with today’s world that is increasingly not distant and very connected, due to the rapidly growing digital world. I see that the more the world has grown connected because of the growth of digital technology, the more distance it has created because hatred has easily grow and developed. Now, a lot of hatred actually arises from social media, attacking each other without caring about the sense of humanity that exists.

Father Heru advised that we must be able to filter all the information we get and also think critically, not only accepting or seeing in black and white, because this can be dangerous for us in seeing the differences that exist in this world. Dialogues and online courses such as those organized by ALL Forum must be carried out more often by inviting more diverse religions and cultures to create tolerance without judgment.*

The Interrelatedness of All: Rites and Rituals

By Rev. Yangkahao Vashum

The creation myths are also about interrelatedness and connectedness of all beings. That we are all intrinsically related to one another and what one does affects each other, for good or bad. The underlying assumption is the peaceful co-existence of the whole creation and human kind. Because of the organic relationship that humans maintain with other creatures, what one does good or ill affects non-human creatures too. This interrelatedness between humanity and all of creation is reflected further in the performances of rites and rituals. Rites and rituals for the indigenous people are an integral part of life. They are performed for maintaining balance and harmony in the community. They convey the message of wholeness and unity. It is basically for this that, although the rituals are performed by an individual, it is done for and on behalf of the whole community.

For instance at the time of sowing the [rice] paddy, the village chief offered sacrifices and performed the paddy sowing rites a day ahead of the people. If in some rare cases, an individual by mistake [or willfully] did the sowing ahead of the village chief the entire village 110suffered from failure of crops that particular year and had to face famine. (1)

In the tribal perception, neither humanity nor creation is unique in itself. In this sense, there is a distinction but no separation between humanity and creatures, the being and beings and all other entities. A distinction is made only at the existential level. K. Thanzauva, a Mizo theologian, points out that the apparent hierarchy in the relationship of beings is not a social order or the idea of degradation. (2) He goes on to say that, though there are functional differences, God, human and world form a community in which they are interrelated and hence it is appropriate to describe this relationship as a “community model of relationship.”

Ref:

1) R. R. Shimray, Origin and Culture of the Nagas (New Delhi: Privately published by Mrs. Pamleiphi Shimray, 1985), 22f.

2) K. Thanzauva, Theology of Community: Tribal Theology in the Making (Aizawl: Mizo Theological Conference, 1997), 157.

What Can Public Theology Do in Asia?

By Rowena Robinson

It is clear from all the definitions, that public theology is understood as advising rather than advocating for society of any section of it. In so far as this is the case, it must rely on and work with other secular and religious institutions of civil society and seek to engage with them in a critical understanding of social and political issues in the light of its own spiritual insights into what constitutes the ‘good society’. At the same time, there is no reason to limit ourselves to the perception that public theology emerges only from the church.

In the plural religious contexts of Asian societies, it is certainly true that Christian theology will learn from other religious traditionsand use these to reflect on itself; but that alone is not what I refer to here. One must look for, reflect on and relate to other religious theologies in a dialogue that is not merely framed as “Christianity in an inter-religious context’ but as Christian theology in an inter-theological conversation.

As such, there is much labor for public theology in Asian societies: the work of justice; of decreasing profound economic and social inequalities and lessening social, political and religious conflict. The question has been raised of how ‘equal’ ‘the debates of the public sphere can be, when deep inequalities prevent large sections of the people — women, Dalits, tribals, religious, ethnic or sexual minorities — from having a voice on that terrain? It must hence be the effort of public theology to expand the sphere of public debate and to enable — really and discursively — the participation of marginalized sections. At the same time, nothing can be more destructive to the public sphere if it seeks to take over the work of the state or trample on its institutional and Constitutional framework. Certainly, emotions run high in areas of society outside the state. As Wilfred (1) suggests, the notion of the ‘public’ finds it difficult to accommodate elements that go beyond ‘reason’ and enter into the space of the ‘non-rational’ or of ‘pure affect’.

While certainly the public sphere must be made more sensitive to modes of thinking that lie outside the strict domain of Weberian rationality, it seems to me that the work of public theology is not only to make a space for the ‘non-rational’ within the ‘public’ but to persuade the ‘emotional’ to speak a language that may be communicable to all and that may allow ‘state’ and ‘society’ to converse. Society needs to listen to the anguish of the oppressed, but we should also recall Ambedkar’s discomfort with those who employ unconstitutional methods relying on forms of emotional coercion such as fasts or satyagraha to put pressure on the state. Ambedkar prescience discerned how these forms of protest could result in hero worship that subverts institutional structures and he referred to these as being nothing less than the ‘grammar of anarchy’.

The public sphere is certainly complex and plural; it may also be thought of as being multi-layered. Public theology can certainly do the work not only of creating the space for the voiceless’to speak but also of listening to and ‘feeling’ the agony of the deprived or of the victims of violence and injustice. At the same time, their labor will be directed to strengthening and engaging the Constitutional institutions of the state rather than bypassing these. Though a critique of the state is undeniably part of siding with the marginalized, this critique does not try to ignore or diminish the state but tries to make it more responsive. Public theologians will have the challenging task of mediating between the ‘subjective’ and the ‘objective’, the ‘individual’ and the ‘state’, the ‘personal’ and the ‘institutional’ so that these do not talk past each other, but instead engage in a continuing and more effective conversation. Without this mediation, ‘emotion’ and ‘reason’ may never be able to dialogue.

There are different spheres in which the work of public theology is of relevance in Asia. To mention only one of the important areas, I refer to the threat of Hindu nationalism in India, which requires theologians not so much to close in on themselves, but to join together with civil society organizations (which are run by a wide-range of people of all religious faiths) and minorities to ensure the protection of India’s plural culture and its Constitutional commitment to political secularism. In this respect, I believe that the Christian Church in particular can play a central role. With the depth of its establishment, it has the potential for creating a strong network of those working for peace and conflict-management. The point here is that the Church has resources — institutional, intellectual and so forth — and these should be part of its work of public theology. Then, public theology will not be only about conversation, but also about the sharing and building of the social and cultural capital of those with whom theologians are engaged.

To conclude, I wish to say — drawing on Wilfred (2)theologians should consider the fields of the social, the political, the cultural and the economic as legitimate and viable ‘fields of action’. In my understanding, this should imply that if public theology responds to society, the most important need for Asian societies today is upright and ethical citizens in every walk of life. Corruption has, indeed, corroded public life. In such circumstances, public theologians must also work in the world, and not only reflect on it or critique it as members of theological bodies or institutions. In other words, we need also a considerable number of theologians to work from within — to participate in the-world-as trained economists, lawyers, doctors, engineers, professors — and to inform their work, their engagements with others and their commitment to their profession with the strong ethical, principled and moral stance that their spiritual training and insights will give them. I have the leadership and guidance that such persons can provide within secular institutions or groups and the ways in which they can transform the work of such organizations from within. They lead by example as well as by word and that might be the most transformative role that they can play in the somewhat floundering societies of Asia today.

 

Ref:

1&2 Felix, Wilfred, “Asian Public Theology”, Lecture delivered in ‘Trinity College, Dublin: 20 January, 2011. See also Felix Wilfred, Asian Public Theology: Critical Issues in Challenging Times, Delhi: ISPCK, 2011.

Youth Today, Leader Tomorrow!

By Neilan Sylvester D’souza

We all know that the 12th of August is celebrated as International Youth Day; around this time we also come across many slogans which shout that “Youth of today are leaders tomorrow”, “Youth are the face of Change”, “Young and active citizens of the country will take us to great heights”, “Youth voices and ideas must be heard” and many more on a similar note. On 13th of August everything goes back to normal, the celebrated ‘Youth’ become secondary citizens, and there is barely any importance given to their thoughts and ideas in most decision making areas; youth often get looked down for being inexperienced, disinterested and irrelevant. The celebration of International Youth Day in most cases lives and dies on the same day, we could also relate this to other commemorative days, regardless.

Pause for a moment, take time and observe the Youth today. As a youth myself, I can proudly say that youth today are not the same, they are better aware, more knowledgeable, better skilled and hard working, but also under a lot of stress and pressure. Let me put my observations into context. Last month ALL Forum spent time with Indonesian Youth by facilitating our program called Moving School in Bogor; we had around 36 participants mainly Indonesian Youth from catholic youth movements and also an Islamic minority group – Ahamadiyya Muslims.

Moving School Indonesia 2022

Even for ALL Forum it was a first, to bring together so many Christian and Muslim participants together in one place for a week long physical program since the past two years due to the pandemic. Our learning’s were enriched ever more because of the interreligious interactions which the youth were having. Never have I seen collaboration like this among strangers looking to learn and work together. We must pause, take time and recognise that among today’s youth there exists a pluralistic culture; mutual respect for sensitive religious practices; zeal to learn, understand as well as collaborate for matters of justice and peace; strong emotion and care towards the environment; and determination towards common good; against corruption and intolerant towards hate.

From this International Youth day on, let us not reduce today’s youths’ determination for change and care for creation and climate only as a viral trend, but instead, let us bridge the gaps, join hands, become inclusive and collaborate on every level so that we can form them as leaders for tomorrow.

My Insight of Moving School Indonesia 2022 and International Youth Day

By Yulius Yohanes Carlos Wawo

“Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages” is the theme of International Youth Day which will be celebrated on August 12, 2022. The development of Youth in the world has always shown interesting things. Almost every incident in this world, Youth is involved in it.

In various fields, various professions as well as various issues in every country in the world, the Youth group plays an active role in it. Young people with their potential, namely having enthusiasm, having ambition, having energy and strong solidarity, are expected to be able to bring change to society.

As we know, the world today has various kinds of problems, plagued by various kinds of conflicts, and endless natural disasters. The theme of International Youth Day 2022 gives momentum for the Youth which is the glue of the generations, it is the Youth that becomes the unifier between nations, and the Youth that unites each group of different religions, tribes, languages and customs, to face every problem in this world.

Indonesia as one of the countries which has tribal, cultural, religious and racial diversity is one example that its youth can be a unifier of this diversity; to face issues in the fields of human rights, politics, gender equality, poverty, tolerance and numerous other things.

Last month, Asian Lay Leaders Forum held a program called Moving School in Indonesia July, 17th – 22nd July 2022. In my opinion, this program related with the theme of International Youth Day 2022. The participants came from different ethnicities, religious, racial and professional backgrounds, who then explored several issues related to Education, Democracy, Corruption and Diversity in Indonesia. We were also introduced to the principles of Synodality, which I interpreted as the principle of walking together, listening to each other and caring for each other.

Participating in Moving School Indonesia, was like entering the candradimuka crater to be buoyed with various kinds of knowledge and was an opportunity to communicate with other young people from different ethnicities, religions, races and customs. Likewise, “Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages” is an encouragement for youth in the world, especially Indonesia, to prepare themselves with various knowledge, training, and capacity building so that young people in the world and especially Indonesia can become mobilizers, unifiers and liaisons between generations in the world and are able to create solutions to all problems and conflicts that occur in the world so as to be able to create a world for all ages.

Personally, I am so grateful for the opportunity to take part in the Moving School Indonesia in 2022 organized by the Asian Lay Leaders Forum, hopefully program like this will continue to take place consistently so that many young people in the world, especially in Indonesia, become drivers and future leaders who are able to solve problems in this world.

My Recommendations for Minority Day in Pakistan

By Ashiknaz Khokhar, Human Rights Activist

Pakistan is about to complete 75 years of its existence, the government and citizens are also making arrangements to celebrate this day. Like every year, this year also there will be many programs on the media in which patriotism will be expressed through national songs. And again the question will arise that what was the purpose of creating Pakistan? What have we lost and found in these 75 years? Especially if we look at the under privileged sections of Pakistan, it will be easier to assess the journey of these 75 years.

In 2009, the Government of Pakistan declared 11th August as National Minority Day at the national level in honor of all the services and sacrifices of the minorities. The Minority Day was also commemorated to encourage the minorities living in Pakistan who worked tirelessly to make Pakistan strong and stable.

In the First Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947, the Quaid-e-Azam had said that “You are free. You are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques and to go to any of your places of worship in the state of Pakistan.” For. You belong to any religion, caste or race. The state has nothing to do with it”.

The purpose of celebrating this day is to take care of the fundamental rights, protection of life and property, religious freedom and self-respect of the religious minorities living in Pakistan. At the same time, think about their unsolved problems and proceed towards their solution.

Minority Day in Pakistan/Image:www.ucanews.com

In these 75 years, where religious minorities have played a key role in progress Pakistan, we should not ignore their many problems. Religious minorities are victims of discrimination in Pakistan who are deprived of opportunities to advance in society because of their religious identity. On Minority Day, I would like to make some recommendations here which the Pakistan government needs to work on seriously:

  1. Introduce adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards to protect the rights, freedoms and interests of minorities. Include minorities in the national mainstream at all levels of governance and decision-making, with a special focus on minority women.
  2. Fully implement the judgment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan on 19 June 2014 (Jeelani Judgment) without any delay.
  3. Raise public awareness of issues of concern, including in the public and private sectors, mobilize political will and resources to address all forms of religious discrimination, and strengthen the human rights principles of non-discrimination and equality.
  4. Ensure open, constructive and respectful discussion of ideas as well as inter-faith, inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue at local and national levels to play a positive role in combating religious hatred, incitement and violence.
  5. Combat religious intolerance through the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and fully respect the freedom to seek, receive and impart information.
  6. Take bold steps to introduce comprehensive anti-discrimination measures, legislation, policy and administrative measures to protect and promote the human rights of religious minorities, including minority women and girls who are often subjected to abduction, rape, forced conversion and marriage ( young age).
  7. Strongly discourage and condemn all incidents, statements and attitudes of religious intolerance at the government level.
  8. Ensure an accurate count of minorities during the population census.
  9. Implement The Ministry of Religious Minority through independent and independent legislation.*

Rights Based Approach to Empower Women in Asia

By Sr.Mariola BS

Economic entitlements: Asian women by and large are made to be dependent on men all through their life even if they earn. Church based and other Faith based Organisations must focus on their economic entitlements.

Social equality: The equality of man and woman should be taught from womb to tomb so that everyone knows and accepts the social equality of man and woman in day to day life.

Cultural Entitlements: Women are often depicted as objects rather than subjects. This is due to the interference of men in their cultural entitlements to have their holistic developments. Their rights to learn and contribute towards the welfare of the society must be respected, protected and fulfilled both by the governments and by the private sectors.

Entitlements to Civil and political leadership: women have by an large proved their commitment to honesty and sincerity when they are given the responsibility to take care of the governance. The civic and political leadership among women would certainly end corruption by and large in the society.

The Church, as the sacrament of Christ, has been entrusted with the mission of proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. This she has consistently done in the face of the concrete challenges with which she has been confronted. One such challenge has been the issue of the dignity and role of women in the Church and society. We conclude this Statement with our thoughts centred on the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our mother; “therefore the fullness of grace was granted, with a view to the fact that she would become Theotokos, also signifies the fullness of the perfection of ‘what is characteristic of woman’, of ‘what is feminine’. Here we find ourselves, in a sense, at the culminating point, the archetype, of the personal dignity of women.” .

Through the true spirit of reconciliation, all women hope that they will be recognized as equal partners in the mission and ministry of the Church. Through the spirit of reconciliation, we hope that no woman will still feel devalued, not taken seriously, uncomfortable as a woman in the Catholic Church, which walks in the footsteps of Jesus, who showed us the Way, the Light and the Truth to true Human Liberation.

May Mary our model of discipleship, woman of courage, and woman of action, inspire and be with the Church of Asia in our journey towards fullness of life for all the peoples of Asia.

After Liberation Theology

By Rowena Robinson

Through the 1970s and 1980s, liberation theology continued to have a strong influence, including on the ecumenical movement in the Churches. Though the liberation theology movement is still alive today and remains very relevant particularly in the context of the concerns of Asia and India, it has to some extent lost the momentum of earlier decades It has been suggested, certainly, that the fall of socialism in Eastern Europe and the spread of capitalism across the globe has contributed to crisis in Marxist critical perspectives.

Further the spread of and struggle for political democracy in different parts of the world in recent decades has created the space for more thinking with regard to the domain of the ‘public’, an element critical to the making of a public theology. It is possible for us to consider the subject of theology somewhat along the lines that Burawoy constructs the discipline of sociology. Certainly, if we do so we can think of liberation theology as combining – with respect to conventional theology 一 some of the aspects that Burawoj attributes to ‘critical’ as well as ‘policy’ sociologies. Because liberation theology is ‘critical’ it challenges the foundational premises of conventional theological thinking. Indeed, within the Catholic church, liberation theology is still perceived as threatening and its radicality is viewed as a ‘crisis’ as it offers a new interpretation of Christianity and a total picture of Christian reality which the church must oppose and negate. 1

Liberation theology may also be said to have something of a policy or perhaps we could say ‘advocacy 5 perspective in that in local sitxiarions it attempts to struggle against concrete realities and find practical solutions to specific concerns of injustice or inequality. As such, however, it has been critiqued — as have other theologies such as Black theology or feminist theology 一 for taking on a more particularistic bent. Public theology is the structural equivalent of public sociology in terms of the relationship it bears to its conventional and/or professional sibling. It is usually understood as the reflection on public issues in the light of theological convictions. Employing the discipline of theology, it invokes a way of practicing theology that contributes to productive and enriching dialogue with those outside of the congregation or seminary, and works together with these individuals or groups for, as Le Bruyns refers to it, the ‘common good’. 2

It is further, clear, that public theology envisions for itself less the role of advocacy than that of creating ‘better intelligence’; in other words, an informed society. For its realization and relevance, it must therefore assume the existence of the sphere of the public within which such informed debate can be carried on. According to Clint Le Bruyns, the idea of the ‘public’ in the context of public theology encompasses notions of ‘sociality’ and ‘relarionality’ .As such, public theology employs the idea of the ‘public’ in terms of Jurgen Habermas’ notion of ‘the public sphere’. In this understanding, the public sphere is a distinctively modern development and it is characterized by what Habermas calls ‘communicative action’. 3 It is the ‘critical’ sphere of the exercise of judgment by essentially private individuals.

According to Habermas, The bourgeois public sphere may be conceived above all as the sphere of private people come together as a public; they soon claimed the public sphere regulated from above against the public authorities themselves, to engage them in a debate over the general rules governing the basically privatized but publicly relevant sphere of commodity exchange and social labor. The medium of this political confrontation was peculiar and without historical precedent people’s public use of their reason. 4

The public thus does not involve merely the state: it in fact consists of all participants who engage in rational and participative discussions concerning the issues raised by the administration of the state. It may include agents of the state but is not exclusive to them. Why do I enter so closely into trying to understand the definitional boundaries of the idea of the ‘public’? I do this because it must be emphasized that ‘public theology’ quite like ‘public sociology’ assumes the existence of a particular framework and context. That is the context of a modern democratic structure within which the state is constituted as an impersonal locus of authority.5 When this happens, a separate domain is carved out — which is the domain of ‘civil society’. Civil society is another hard-to-pin-down term. For Habermas Civil society is made up of more or less spontaneously created associations, organizations and movements, Which find, take up, condense and amplify the resonance of social problems in private life, and pass it on to the political realm or public sphere. 6

For some scholars, ‘civil society’ consists of organizations outside of and independent of the state. For others, it includes only those organizations that are outside both of the state and of the market. Whatever the limits of one’s definition, for our purposes it is clear that both the organizations of civil society must be active in the realm of politics, and also that any notion of public theology must rely on the existence of a strong, active civil society. An effective civil society and a vibrant public sphere are both vital to the making of a public theology.

Ref:

Cardinal Ratzinger, as viewed on 16 August 2011, http://christendomawake.org/pages/ ratzinger/liberationtheol.htm

Clint Le Bruyns, as viewed on 16 August 2011,
http://www.ecclesio.com/2011/05/public-theology-on-responsibility-for-the-public-good

Jurgen Habermas, Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy. Cambridge: Polity Press, (1989): 27.

Ibid.

See Craig Calhoun, (cd.) Habermas and the Public Sphere, Boston: MIT Press, (1993): 8.

Jurgen, Hcbermas, Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democraty… op.cit. 367