Theology, Conflict, and Peacebuilding
For several years now, two Vincentian universities from two different continents have been collaborating in the field of religion, theology and society. Professors from St. Vincent School of Theology (SVST) of Adamson University and the Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology (CWCIT) of De Paul University in Chicago engaged each other in a dialogue on “Theology, Conflict and Peacebuilding: An Intercontinental Conversation” on December 12-13, 2014. While organized by the two institutions, speakers also came from other theological bodies and institutions outside these two Vincentian universities. In the Philippines, we collaborated with DAKATEO (Damdaming Katoliko sa Teolohiya – Catholic Theological Society of the Philippines). During the first day, we heard from a young American lady-theologian, Meghan Clark of St. John’s University (New York) about the “Scandal of Silence: Sexual Assault as Political Violence”; Australian theologian Joel Hodge on “The Catholic Church in Timor-Leste and the Indonesian Occupation” (Australian Catholic University in Melbourne); Filipino theologian Dennis Gonzales from SVST and Ateneo School of Government on “Humility and Arrogance in Building Peace”; Antonio De Castro, Jr., SJ of Loyola School of Theology (Manila) on “La Virgen del Pilar, Ten Years After: Deframing Mary in the Aftermath of the Zamboanga Seige”; Filipina theologian from the University of San Carlos (Cebu), Geraldine Villaluz, RSCJ, on “A Model Way of Life for Peace Education” as she reflected on Inay Malinandang of Talaandig – an indigenous people in the mountains of Bukidnon; and Gerard Powers of the University of Indiana, USA on the “Catholic Ethic of Self-Determination”. The SVST Auditorium was jam-packed with people – students, professors and peace advocates from different school and institutions.
The second day of the conference was held in a bigger venue, the Adamson University Theater, with another set of audience. We heard from two world-renowned American theologians who have extensively written on peacebuilding – Robert Schreiter (Catholic Theological Union in Chicago) on “The Challenge of Healing Perpetrators” and William Cavanaugh, the Director of CWCIT (De Paul University in Chicago) on “The Church as a Field Hospital: Ecclesiology and Peacebuilding”. The Filipino panel was composed of Agnes Brazal on “Cyberspace and Peacebuilding” (SVST-AdU); Karl Gaspar on “The Mindanao Experience of Peacebuilding” (St. Alphonsus Theological and Mission Institute in Davao City); and Daniel Franklin Pilario on “Peace and Symbolic Violence” (SVST-AdU).
We look forward to the third phase of this conversation, this time, to be held in Chicago. The proceedings of these conferences will soon be published by an American press. Please keep posted.