Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Acta Theologica]]> vol. 43 num. lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Preface</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>We Inter-Are: The pandemic challenge redefining human beings and communities</b>]]> The COVID-19 pandemic calls for a critical introspection into our way of being human in relation to other forms of life on this planet. Given that social hierarchies attribute higher and lower status to human beings based on their race, class, caste and gender identity, and legitimise the exploitation of other human beings and the earth, re-thinking our hierarchical positioning as "masters" of this universe becomes imperative. In this context, eco-feminist reconstruction of relationality is projected as a corrective, as it focuses on linking relationships instead of ranking relationships. In addition, the mystical notion "We Inter-Are", shared by the visionary Buddhist sage Thich Nhat Hanh, is proposed as a key for growing into a consciousness of inter-relationality with other beings on this planet, as it opens us to the infinite mystery of the deeper relatedness of all forms of life. Viewed from this perspective, the pandemic can become a defining moment in the evolutionary story of human beings. <![CDATA[<b>Caring for women on the frontlines: Enhancing women workers' capabilities and building social friendship</b>]]> This article examines the vulnerability of frontline cleaning workers and domestic helpers during the COVID-19 pandemic and how they empower themselves by joining a community in which they can support each other. Employing surveys by non-governmental organisations, particularly those in Hong Kong, as well as my own interviews and observations, I examine the situation of the frontline workers and discuss the moral principles and conditions for upholding women's dignity and well-being, based on the capability approach of feminist philosopher Martha Nussbaum. I argue that emphasising women's moral agency and giving a voice to women themselves through women collectives are important in empowering them and building a life-giving community among women, especially during and after the pandemic. In addition, the notions of political charity and social friendship in Catholic social thought, particularly the social encyclical Fratelli Tutti, and the multi-axial analysis in post-colonial feminist theology are useful in upholding women's dignity and moral agency in care situations. Examples of social friendship are provided. <![CDATA[<b>Women's needs vs economic survival during the COVID-19 pandemic: Navigating this tension using care and justice</b>]]> Women are among the many vulnerable groups that are severely affected by the pandemic: All over the world, women have been hit harder by the pandemic, leading some to call the global recession a "shecession". "Shecession" refers to "the disproportionate impact of a pandemic recession on working women", which leads to greater gender inequality. Working women have been gravely affected by the pandemic, but their situation is often justified as "necessary" in helping businesses survive. We argue for a caring justice framework, using Fratelli Tutti and care ethics in navigating the tensions between the individual and the community, analysing and transforming the way in which work is structured in the Philippines at present. <![CDATA[<b>Japanese women's activism sustains a life-giving community in the pandemic</b>]]> The COVID-19 pandemic brought significant challenges to the women dependent on the healthcare and tourism industries for the livelihood of their families. These challenges opened opportunities for organisations to alter their traditional forms of assistance into modalities that address the effects of the pandemic. I explore the Asian Women Empowerment Project (AWEP), a Japan-based organisation dedicated to helping poor women in Asian countries attain economic power. During the pandemic, AWEP attuned its programmes to respond to its challenges. Using ecofeminist theologian Salle McFague's ecological model, I demonstrate that AWEP reveals Japanese women's acute understanding of a need for an ecological ethics of solidarity that includes ecological interests, a consciousness of solidarity, and cooperation through global sisterhood, which posits that women the world over share everyday experiences regardless of race, nationality, ethnicity, class, or economic status and, therefore, should help one another. <![CDATA[<b>Militarism and fear in a time of pandemic in the Philippines: Towards a theology of transgression</b>]]> The pandemic was an opportunity for authoritarian regimes to intensify militarism and cultivate fear, resulting in the disablement of the most vulnerable in society. Fear dissipates when basic freedoms are at stake. People who once were afraid have learned to transgress, "to step across", because they just had enough of the Duterte regime's deception. In light of this context, I argue, like Michel Foucault, that transgression can be a positive notion and not opposed to transcendence. In fact, it belongs to a similar semantic cluster. An interruption can be viewed not as seeking attention, but rather as a cessation that aims for communion. Drawing from the lived experiences of persons with disabilities, I suggest a reversal of the negative perception of interruption to be incarnational, which can pave the way to a theology of transgression that is liberative. <![CDATA[<b>The experiences of currently and formerly incarcerated women in a time of pandemic: Implications for life-giving communities</b>]]> This article assesses the adequacy of the church's responses to women currently and formerly in conflict with the law in the Philippines and offers feminist theological reflections on the need for gender- and culturally sensitive pastoral services for them in a time of pandemic. Drawing upon case studies and interviews, this paper examines the lived experiences and social worlds of women who currently occupy or formerly held the status of persons deprived of liberty. The researcher discusses the common themes and nuances in the issues and challenges they confront from behind bars and in free society, and their struggles for survival throughout the pandemic. This paper also examines their service needs and, in the case of those released from the penitentiary, the salient factors that contribute to the risk of recidivism. The researcher discusses the implications of the issues and service needs of justice-involved women for building life-giving communities. <![CDATA[<b>Becoming whole again: The goal of women's struggle against sex abuse in Catholic schools in the Philippines </b>]]> This article focuses on sex abuse and abuse of power in Catholic schools in the Philippines. I argue that these schools should ground policy design and decision-making on the relational safety model developed by Maria Carmen B. La ViƱa and her colleagues at the Catholic Safeguarding Institute, and on a holistic pastoral approach developed by Nila Bermisa. The latter offers a life-giving vision on what to aim for in dealing with abuse as Christians, namely renewal and a movement toward fullness of life. I show that failure to reference the work of these two women is connected to the commission of egregious mistakes such as promoting silence and secrecy that further harm victims, partiality toward abusers, perpetuating organisational structures that correlate with abuse, and failing to listen to women who point to a connection between abuse and patriarchal Catholic culture. <![CDATA[<b>Comfort women surviving pandemics: From erasure to embodied hope towards a feminist-postcolonial theology of radical hospitality</b>]]> The article accords epistemic privilege to comfort women as embodiment of the perversion of hospitality. It draws a parallelism between their surviving the pandemics of World War II as forcibly recruited sex slaves and COVID-19. Through their lived experience as survivors of pandemics, a feminist-postcolonial theology of radical hospitality first critiques biblical narratives of men's hospitality to men. The parallel stories of Lot's offer of his virgin daughters (Gen. 19) and the Levite's offer of his concubine (Judges 19) expose, first, the hierarchisation of male guests over women, as property of men, and secondly, the inviolable creed of hospitality conferred on men by men, that is sustained by the cultural code that marks women's bodies as violable. Secondly, the article argues that extending hospitality to comfort women (for example, war reparations) goes beyond the "law of ekstasis", as touted in Fratelli Tutti, as comfort women themselves embody love, reciprocity, and inclusion. <![CDATA[<b>Sexy chinkies in Indian cities: Can we embrace a slant-eyed Mary?</b>]]> This article investigates the escalation of anti-northeastern racism during the COVID-19 pandemic in India, by analysing the existing and underlying forms of domination faced by north-eastern Indian populations living in the metropolitan cities of India. It particularly investigates the intersectionalities of caste and race, gender, LGBT, and the older form of anti-Chinese sentiment called the yellow-peril myth. It explores Mary Magdalene's life and reflects on the public and cultural narrative, while simultaneously highlighting the lived experiences of north-eastern women in Indian cities. The article compares the experience of Mary Magdalene with that of the indigenous northeastern women. It asks how Mary, if she were slant-eyed, negotiated the humiliation and discrimination of race and gender, and how the figure of Mary can help challenge the public myth and offer a site of resistance for north-eastern women, many of whom are Christian. <![CDATA[<b>#Choosetochallenge: Covid-19, community research, and the Canaanite woman</b>]]> This study theologises on the Urban Poor Women and Children with Academics for Reaching and Delivering on UNSDGs in the Philippines (UPWARD-UP) Project research team's collaboration with the Alliance of Peoples' Organisation Along the Manggahan Floodway (Alliance), Philippines. We posit that the theological process of see-judge-act, enhanced with evaluate-celebrate/ritualise, using feminist biblical characterisation in interpreting Matthew 15:21-28, serves as a spiritual resource for Christians working for the urban poor realisation of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The Canaanite woman challenged Jesus' identity and mission impacting on Christology and ecclesiology. This characterisation makes her a vital example and companion for the Alliance women leaders in achieving their prioritised SDGs (1 - No Poverty; 3 - Health and Well-being [in relation with the Environment]; 4 - Quality Education, and 16 - Justice, Peace and Strong Institutions seen from the lens of UNSDG 5 - Gender Equality) during the pandemic and beyond. <![CDATA[<b>Pandemic oasis: Popular piety as women's life-giving <i>communitas</i></b>]]> This article argues and explores how popular Catholic piety can serve as an agent to create life-giving communitas for women in Macao, China. This research uses the narratives of six Catholic women about how their immersion in various public and private devotional practices creates solidarity and communities that are inclusive, empowering, and nurturing during the outbreak of COVID-19. Besides petitioning their long-lasting devotional images such as St Roch and Our Lady of Fatima, women learn and move on to a new model of online and live stream religious response and ritual innovations at the time of coronavirus in Macao. The digitisation of gathering strengthens the global connection among women to the rest of the world, shaping a new form of devotional culture and community ties that are not necessarily institutionalised. Devotional practices act as a spiritual oasis, personally and communally, for women coming together and bring hope, strength, and consolation to this unprecedented time. <![CDATA[<b>Women's reception of cyber churches during the pandemic and indications for the future</b>]]> This article aims to respond to the question: How have women received the shift of religious activities online and what are its implications or challenges, if any, for the future of the church? The study reveals no significant difference in the level of engagement in religious activities prior to and during the pandemic among women respondents in the NCR, Philippines. Women have played crucial roles in maintaining the religious well-being of their household, suggesting exercise of agency and leadership. A correlation/regression analysis of the data also projects a significant increase in level of engagement in 10 online religious activities post-pandemic.