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A challenging scenario for the Catholic Moral Theology in Latin America and the Caribbean

Development is a key word in Latin America and the Caribbean today. In their efforts to develop, countries are at different stages and with different actors. Despite these differences, there are also similarities. Some of these concern the struggles for national autonomy, by overcoming poverty and discrimination, and the aspiration for democratic processes against political domination and corruption of all kinds.

In a good ethical theory, development should not be reduced to economics alone, but should entertain the dimensions of individual life, social and environmental. It is true that modernity brought a huge boost to the individual and collective subjectivities. However, this is united in our context by the heavy legacies of colonialism. Thus, although the current neo-liberalism in the Western world helps to highlight individual and subjective rights, our civil societies weaken as they move beyond individual interests. Social inequities persist and slow the emergence of social ethical awareness. The hope is developed by social groups and actors in different areas, trying to overcoming this suicidal process.

How do I insert in this context the actors in the Catholic moral theology? We find here big differences. There are those who have not yet awakened from the slumber of Christianity and the benefits of alliances and power in society. There are those who are concentrated in the interior of the church, who support implicit social processes, except when it comes to ensuring their own space in society. There are those who act in response to the wickedness and suffering of people through social processes. It would be very difficult to quantify each of the trends, not least because they interpenetrate in many ways. Better take two.

Historically the critiques against Liberation Theology in past decades led to negative results in the education of critical social consciousness. It also cooled the commitment of Christians in the struggle for social justice and defense of the poor. However, many persist in different ways with the ideals and practices associated with faith in social transformation and in helping those who suffer. It is eloquent in the testimony of people and communities in areas of conflict and deprivation. In Brazil, the Fraternity Campaign (2012) will focus on public health. In 2012 the Continental Congress held in Theology, S. Leopoldo-RS (Brazil) to celebrate 50 years of Vatican II and to think about the challenges and tasks of the Christian Liberation in Latin America and the Caribbean. Preparations include regional study seminars already being held in Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia and Chile. These are some important signals.

On the other hand, The New Catholic Communities flourish through subjectively attractive proposals (post) modern, whether neo-Pentecostal profile or not. In Brazil alone there are over 500 different communities. The World Youth Days in numbers express the strength of these groups. In this model the Christian morality is quite focused on individual behavior, and the core of charity provides indispensable to those in need.

Looking closely at these two groups, these two strangers each appear moral. Certainly they are not strangers by their Christian faith, but by the epistemology and method of their morals, and also, perhaps, by the mutual mistrust that separates them. I imagine that in this context moral theology has a large and urgent domestic challenge to overcome these gaps and establish a rich dialogue. What are our chances for this?

About the author: Doctor in Theology from the Gregorian-PUG, Rome. Professor of Christian Ethics at the Institute for Advanced Studies Sao Paulo. Professor and researcher at the Graduate Program in Bioethics at the University of Sao Camilo (S.Paulo / Brazil). Member of the Bioethics Committee of the Board of Medicine of Sao Paulo / Brazil.