From the Editor’s Desk – June 2023
One of the concerns that has been raised by both boards of the journal (the Board of Directors and the Board of Editorial Consultants) is that of gender parity (or lack thereof) in the articles it publishes—a problem that is troublingly evident in this issue: only one of the authors is a woman, while the
Toward a Spirituality of Politics
This article revisits Francis’s vision of politics as one of the highest forms of charity. It argues that Francis’s concept of “political charity” goes beyond a mere repetition of classical church social teaching on politics to ground a spirituality for Christian politicians. He does this mainly in two ways: the first is by inscribing the main Christian virtue of love at the heart of political practice; the second is by portraying both politics and economics as Christian vocations to be embraced as noble paths to holiness. Finally, I introduce an African perspective into the discussion for context and illustration.
Pope Francis, Culture of Encounter, the Common Good, and Dharma: Public Theological Conversations Today
Pope Francis is able to communicate common values across borders of religion, regions, and sociopolitical systems. Catholic social teaching on the common good, particularly as articulated and promoted by him as part of a culture of encounter, conveys a relevant message for our times. Approaching the pope’s initiative from a South Asian context, I argue that an engagement with dharma, a religioethical vision, can be part of this culture of encounter, especially in public theological conversations about the common good. Specifically, the themes of the common good, like integral ecology and care for the vulnerable, as earnestly promoted by Pope Francis, can converse with dharma for mutual enrichment, even while the basic teachings on human dignity, freedom, and inalienable rights can usefully enrich the latter.
Latin American Social Integration as a Methodological Lens for Francis’s Teaching
Over the past ten years of Francis’s pontificate, a transversal axis cutting across all his writings is his appreciation for the importance of social integration in Latin America. For the pope, humanity must gradually move toward greater and better forms of encounter, integration, and inclusion—that is, toward the “Great Homeland.” His experiences in South America have led him to a contextually situated conviction about the importance of concrete encounter and inclusion that has transferred to his universal teaching and, in this sense, forged his pontifical teaching from the margins. Turning to a specific corpus of papal texts written for Latin American people, we will analyze the methodological assumptions of this whole program of integration thought for the global community.
Umwelt-Theory, Self-Transcendence, and Openness-to-God: Attending Theologically to Human Animality
Christian theological anthropology has been critiqued for its habit of sharply distinguishing the human from the nonhuman and for thereby depreciating human animality in one form or another. Within the context of modern theological anthropology, the result of this habit has often been a vision of the human according to which the less animal we are, the more self-transcendent and God-open we are. In light of recent theological and interdisciplinary interest in the Umwelt-theory of Jakob von Uexküll (1864–1944), I indicate how Uexküll’s influential account of animal Umwelten can be a resource for theologians seeking to articulate human self-transcendence and God-openness in a manner that avoids the depreciation—whether explicit or implicit—of our animality.
Theologically Shoring Up the Law of the Sea
In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis highlights the oceans as integral to our threatened common home and stresses the need for more effective ocean governance. Theologians can help to meet that need. By turning their attention to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and its further development, and by practicing “ocean empathy,” they can join ocean scientists, NGOs, international lawyers, and others in caring for the oceans by shoring up the law of the sea.
Privation, Teleology, and the Metaphysics of Evil
Drawing inspiration from Pseudo-Dionysius, Maximus the Confessor, and Thomas Aquinas, and in support of the definition of evil as the privation of being or goodness, this article proposes a complementary definition of evil. It argues that evil can be defined as the non-advancement of being, appetite, or natural inclination toward its proper perfection or completion. First, it explains what this definition entails, elaborates on its implications, and defends its plausibility. Second, it discusses typical objections to the privation account and shows how defining evil relative to appetite can help overcome them.