Discerning Pastoral Approaches to Ethical Concerns of Today!

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The Director and students of the Collegio Maggiore in Rome organised five study sessions on ethical issues, responding to Pope Francis’ message to the Redemptorists.

Pope Francis, during his address to the capitulars of the XXVI General Chapter, emphasized the need for ongoing formation in the field of Moral Theology, especially in their role as formers of conscience. These have been the recommendations of the last two General Chapters. Fr. Rogerio Gomes, our Superior General, requested that the Collegio Maggiore (Major College), an institution of the Redemptorist Congregation dedicated to higher studies and ongoing formation here in Rome, in collaboration with The Alphonsian Academy (Alfonsianum), Pontifical Higher Institute of Moral Theology, conduct a formation program in moral theology concerning themes such as the formation of conscience, abortion, euthanasia, gender, transhumanism, human sexuality, media, and social justice. The objective of such formation is to be aware of today’s ethical concerns and respond pastorally in the spirit of our founder St. Alphonsus.

Since 1909, the Major College has welcomed Redemptorist missionaries coming to Rome to undertake higher studies: a Licentiate, Doctorate, or other Formation courses. However, the Major College is not just a place of specialized formation but also of ongoing formation. The proposed formation sessions in the field of Moral Theology will also benefit students studying in other universities and specializing in other fields of theology apart from Moral Theology.

Prof. Martin Mckeever, the Director of the Major College, along with the students from the college Frs. Selwin Colaco, Joseph Royan, and Carlos Alberto Pereira, in collaboration with the resource persons from the Alphonsian Academy, organized five sessions on Wednesdays from 6.00 PM to 7.45 PM. The mode of such sessions involves a case study concerning an ethical issue, followed by discussion, and sharing by the students. The resource person then collates these responses from the students, makes his/her observations, and guides the students to respond pastorally to such situations in the best way possible in line with the teachings of the Church and the Spirit of our founder St. Alphonsus. At the end of the academic year, the participants will receive a certificate from the Alphonsian Academy.

The following were the sessions conducted:

  1. Pastoral care of those living in irregular situations, especially divorced, and remarried by Prof. Vimal Tirimanna, C.Ss.R.
  2. Pastoral response to bioethical issues concerning Artificial Reproductive Technology (IVF, FIVET, ICSI) by Prof. Giovanni Del Missier.
  3. Pastoral care of LGBTQ+ and Same-sex union by Prof. Claudia Leal Luna
  4. Clerical Abuse and the Seal of Confession by Prof. Alfonso Amarante, C.Ss.R.
  5. Abortion of defective babies and the sacrament of Confession by Prof. Alberto De Mingo, C.Ss.R.

The discussions during these sessions have been enlightening, enriching, and thought-provoking. The pastoral response to the ethical concerns of today has been challenging, especially in the sacrament of confession. In the light of Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis urges us, pastors, to be discerning and attentive to how people experience and endure distress because of their condition and to avoid judgments that do not consider the complexity of various situations. In Pope Francis’s words, this requires the “logic of pastoral mercy.”

Fr. Joseph Royan, C.Ss.R.

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