(2017/3) Editor(s): Daniel Franklin Pilario(c), Susan Ross, Sarojini Nadar, Solange Lefebvreola
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Articles of the issue

Table of Contents

Minorities - Concilium 2017/3

Editorial – Daniel Franklin Pilario, Susan Ross and Solange Lefebvre

Minorities and Theology

Sacralizing Exclusion: The Rise of Ultra-Nationalism and Right-Wing Populism – R. Scott Appleby

Secularism, Democracy and Minority Rights – Neera Chandhoke

Cultural Minorities and the Catholic Social Tradition – Rolando Tuazon

Spiritual Deamnds Among Minorities and Elites – Diego Irarrazaval

Sexual Minorities: The Rainbow-Colored Body of Christ – Stefanie Knauss

White Supremacy, the Election of Donald Trump and the Challenge to Theology – Bryan Massingale

Minorities in Global Contexts

Christian Communities of the Middle East: Persecuted Minorities or Indigenous People? – Michel Andraos

The Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar – Maung John

Churches in the Mirror: The Rom(a) as Evangelical Test – Cristina Simonelli

The Rights of African Indigenous People: Lessons from the Struggles of the Ogoni of the Niger Delta – Stan Chu Ilo

Pacific Island Peoples: Resilience and Climate Change – Kathleen Rushton

Churches and Theology in Canada after residential Schools: The Difficult Path of Truth, reparation and Decolonization – Jean-François Roussel

Theological Forum

Older Anglican Laywomen: Their Struggle to Oppose Women Priests – Abby Day

The ‘Apparitions’ at Fatima – Anselmo Borges


Abstracts - Minorities

R. Scott Appleby


The year 2016 was a watershed in global as well as national politics. From the Philippines to Italy, the United Kingdom to the United States, the ballot box became an instrument of radical political re-orientation and a weapon of the economically marginalized. While it is always hazardous to offer generalizations clustering developments and trends from many countries and regions, the rise to power of right-wing populist politicians in most of the recent cases can be traced to a combination of: decades of increasing income inequality, creating an ever-widening gulf between the wealthiest 5 percent and the rest of the population; patterns of globalization that favor the economic elites of the wealthiest nations and elites, elsewhere, seen to be in collusion with them; and the scapegoating of national minorities, including immigrants, religious minorities and, often the poorest of the poor.

Neera Chandhoke


Despite the onset of a post-secular age, in plural societies a thin concept of secularism is essential to safeguard equality of religions, and more importantly minority rights. To understand the significance of secularism, we have to see it as not a stand-alone concept, but as a companion concept of democracy. Whereas secularism mandates that a government shall not harness its projects to a religious agenda, legitimize itself by reference to religious authority, or proclaim a state religion, democracy establishes that equality or non-discrimination, freedom of religious beliefs, and protection of minority religious groups flow from the generic principle of equality and freedom.

Rolando A. Tuazon


Taking off from a concrete experience of exclusion or marginalization of the indigenous peoples in the Philippines, this article asks how the Catholic Social Tradition deals with or addresses the social concerns of minorities. It will try to locate and explain the mainstream position of the Church’s social teaching vis-à-vis the ongoing discussions and debates on the rights of minorities, especially in the area of culture and ethnicity. Using the analectic ethical framework developed by Enrique Dussel, it will propose certain directions toward the development of the Church’s social tradition in a creative and meaningful response to the questions and concerns of the minorities in our ever- globalizing, yet fragmented world.

Diego Irarrazaval


In the Americas the work of theology is challenged by processes of subordination, resistance and hope in minorities of various sorts (victims of discrimination, the powerful, believers, the indifferent). When we do our thinking with despised peoples and contexts, we come into contact with the Mystery of the other. Global processes fragment the minorities and put a distance between them; I emphasize what happened in the situation of the indigenous, in Central America, Chile, the base communities. There are neo-religious and postmodern promises that complete with attachment to God. The coincidence with the ‘minority’ practice of Jesus and the communities offers us interpretative guides for facing the challenges of today.

Stefanie Knauss


This contribution focuses on sexual minorities, that is, those who in their sexual identity or orientation do not comply with the binary, heteronormative matrix, and who often remain invisible in discussions of minority rights. I will think about what it would mean for theology to take the experiences of those considered sexual ‘deviants’ as central to the theological enterprise. In particular, I will focus on the ways in which sexual minorities challenge categories of theological thinking, and how their presence asks us to reconsider how we speak to and about God and about the body of Christ which is the church.

Bryan Massingale


This contribution is a transcript of an interview conducted by Susan Ross on January 12, 2017, with Professor Bryan Massingale. Following the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. Presidency, there was a surge in the number of racial and ethnic attacks on minorities across the country, and an increased concern over the place of minorities in the United States. During the previous two years, a number of shootings of black men and women had attracted much attention and protest, particularly around the Black Lives Matter movement which began after the killing of Michael Brown in the summer of 2014. Massingale is a leading voice among Catholic theologians and has spoken widely on the situation of African-Americans in the U.S. and particularly in the U.S Catholic Church.

Michel Andraos


This article presents a brief historical background and analysis that trace some aspects of the identity formation and self-understanding of the Middle Eastern Christian communities in relation to their minority status since the early Ottoman period. Its main argument is that the dominant narratives, including the "persecuted Christian communities in the world of Islam in need of protection," are simply historically not correct and very problematic for a variety of reasons discussed in the article. The article concludes with a reflection on the new direction the leadership of these communities has taken over the past few decades, which the author believes has inaugurated a new historical period.

Maung John


The Rohingya Muslims are one of the most persecuted ethnic minority groups in Myanmar. Fleeing Myanmar due to poverty, conflict and persecution, they are treated inhumanly in countries where they land (or where never permitted to land). The Rohingyas’ settlement in Myanmar goes back to many centuries earlier. The denial of the right to citizenship by the hegemonic Buddhist majority leads to what is now called ethnic genocide. The ecclesial response is at best ambivalent. While some church leaders including the Pope fight for their protection, others are quiet about the issue or do not rush to their side to respond to their needs.

Cristina Simonelli


In the ways in which the Churches include, confront or reject the Rom populations (around12 million people in Europe, unevenly spread), methods of evangelization and also diversified ecclesial forms can be discerned. In the second half of the twentieth century, around the time of the Council, a form was developed of sharing and appraisal for the Rom reality, with ecclesial communities capable of expressing within themselves a broad and inclusive ministeriality. The challenge, however, still exists, because intolerance and racism have by no means disappeared and often also involve the Churches. Nevertheless, nowadays a cultural and political discussion exists of Rom associations that is opening up new scenarios.

Stan Chu Ilo


This essay demonstrates how the fight for resource control by the Ogoni minority group in the Niger Delta in Southern Nigeria paints a portrait of the challenges facing many indigenous peoples in Africa. It shows that state and international actors often conspire to despoil the land of indigenous people while paying less attention to their rights to land, livelihood and the preservation of their cultural and religious rights. This essay proposes that indigenous peoples of Africa have strong ethical principles and communal practices for embracing wholeness in creation. This is achieved through their time honored daily practices for protecting their natural habitat in order to secure abundant life for themselves and future generations. The essay concludes by showing how African eco-theologies and theologies of solidarity in world Christianity could accompany African indigenous peoples in the search for belonging and selfhood in a world which sometimes seems to ignore their rights and cultural traditions.

Kathleen Rushton


This article seeks to raise awareness of the increasing marginalization of the forgotten minority of diverse Pacific Island peoples who are on the front line of living with climate change. Their situation is ignored by the wealthy developed nations whose focus on economic growth continues to contribute to climate change. Responses to this complex issue cluster around mitigation (developed nations) and adaptation (Pacific Islanders). Five interconnected issues identified by Pacific Islanders as contributing to their marginalization are: food and water; coastal erosion and sea level rise; offshore mining and drilling; impact of extreme weather and climate finance.

Jean-François Roussel


By highlighting the violent and genocidal dimensions of the Canadian Residential School system – a century-long partnership between the government and the churches – the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada held the churches accountable and challenged them to make reparations to indigenous peoples. Meanwhile, the churches have lost their influence in society and are impoverished as a result. This article examines the challenge for the churches and for theology in this new situation.