The 3rd International Conference of the Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church was a time of kairos for all participants in this meeting, held in Sarajevo in July 2018. Catholic theological ethicists from almost 80 countries gathered in a city that its recent history led these ethicists to commit themselves to work of building bridges in a world that has faced the constant challenge of division and intolerance. The conference began with a letter from Pope Francis who strengthened the Catholic ethicists to continue their service to the Church through their intellectual work, and encouraged them to “be passionate for such dialogue and networking.”
Networking was one of the goals of this conference. All those gathered in Sarajevo were open to this goal, in a way that they could lead a web of solidarity and collaboration among Catholic ethicists around the world. So, CTEWC can be a network of men and women who dialogue, work, and support one another to contribute to the construction of bridges of tolerance, justice, and peace in their local realities and globally. Building bridges was the theme of this conference. This began with networking, that is, the creation of bridges of collaboration and support among theological ethicists who were in Sarajevo, open and committed to include others who were not there, and between Catholic ethicists and other areas of the Church and the secular society.
A significant number of attendees in Sarajevo were junior scholars, that is, young Catholic ethicists who are at the beginning of their academic career. CTEWC, especially its founder James Keenan, has always been aware of the importance of supporting the new generation of Catholic theological ethicists. Since the first international meeting in Padua (2012), CTWEC has invited and sponsored junior scholars to be part of international meetings and collaborate in CTEWC initiatives. In Sarajevo, 140 people were junior scholars. Their significative presence made the CTEWC create the new scholars committee, a brain child of Keenan.
In a planning committee meeting in Sarajevo in July 2017, Keenan proposed the creation of the new scholars committee, and the planning committee for the 3rd international conference assisted in identifying the new scholars committee members. Thus, the new scholars committee evolved from the main planning committee. The purpose of the new scholars committee was to help the junior scholars meet naturally as new acquaintances, in a dinner at Sarajevo held at the Pod Lipom Restaurant, sponsored by CTEWC. The new scholars committee was shaped by six ethicists from different countries, representing five continents. During dinner, junior scholars had an opportunity for engaging in great conversations about their work, their areas of interest and research, their teaching experience, their local realities, the challenges they face, their future plans, among other subjects they certainly talked about, and, of course, they had fun. The hope was that this dinner would help people to meet new colleagues and create a network.
During the conference, the members of the new scholars committee itself were able to network and connect. At Sarajevo they were able to arrange for their first meeting where they brainstormed ideas about how they could motivate the network that began among this large group of young scholars. Many ideas were raised and now they need to be matured. However, the committee members decided to keep together and continue their linkage and be inspired. In the meeting, the members of the committee suggested establishing a new monthly column for junior scholars in the CTEWC forum, The First. This idea was accepted by the CTEWC’s central committee. The new column will be written only by the junior scholars from different countries. This aims to showcase the voices of emerging scholars, giving an opportunity for them to present issues they face at the beginning of their career, and creating a new space for dialogue and solidarity among Catholic ethicists. In this forum, Alexandre Martins (Brazil) will serve as the facilitator and he will work with Anne Celestine Achieng (Kenya), Jutta Battenberg (Mexico), Gregoire Catta (France), Kaithavana ‘Jijo’ Geevarghese (India), Maria Isabel Gil Espinosa (Colombia), Kristin Meneses (The Philippines) and Jeremy Cruz (US). We hope that this motivates you as a junior scholar to write on ethical issues in the world and engage in the dialogue at the Forum section in The First.
Finally, the new scholars committee invites you to send suggestions of how this committee can strengthen the junior scholars network, and ideas for collaborative projects to be developed in the future. Messages can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org