15th Conference, Jamaica June 27-July 1, 2011, Abstracts of Papers

Abstracts of Papers presented


Monday, June 27:  Presentation #1

Dr. Gerald Boodoo

“Caribbean Theology: Where Now

Tuesday, June 28: Presentation #2

Msgr. Michael Lewis

“Those Hard Teachings: Investigating the Intersection of Theology, Culture and Canon Law in the Caribbean”

Presentation looks at the relationship between cultural norms, theology and canon law among the peoples of the Caribbean.  It will ask: Has the canon law of the Church taken into consideration adequately the cultural mores of Caribbean people? In positing an answer it will take carefully account of the question of the reception of canon law.  Drawing from examples from within the region, it will investigate the challenges we face as a regional Church in the development of laws that promote the development of a truly Caribbean Church.

Presentation #3

Fr. Joseph Harris, C.S.Sp.

“A Catechesis on Sponsors at Baptism and Confirmation”- Canon 872

Presentation #4

Msgr. Patrick A.B. Anthony

“The Governance of Small Island Dioceses in the Caribbean”

The thirty years between 1960 and 1990 brought unprecedented developments in the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church in the Caribbean region. Reading the signs of the times the Church engaged the “hopes and dreams” of the people and its policy in ecclesiastical governance connected with the socio-political reality. This was reflected in the configuration of dioceses and in the choice of episcopal leadership.

    Since the 1990’s there has been a disconnect between the Church’s policy of governance and the development of the Small Island Developing States(SIDS) of the region.  This is reflected most graphically in the case of the dioceses of the OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean Sates).  Whereas the OECS stands as a global beacon of sub-regional collaboration based on solid national identities and leadership, in the area of governance within the Catholic Church that same region stagnates under proxy and absentee leadership.

This paper examines the causes of this stagnation and proposes as symbols /models of provincial development  the many  OCES achievements : (a) a single currency and Central Bank [ECCB], (b) a single Judiciary [OECS Supreme Court], (c) a single authority for telecom deregulation [ECTEL], (d) a single authority for Civil Aviation [ECCAA], (e) a single facility for Pharmaceutical procurement ,(f) Joint diplomatic representation overseas, (g) hassle free travel between Member States on National ID card, and from August 1,2011 (h) free circulation of goods and services; free movement of labour and capital.

Presentation #5

Seminarian: Cleophus Joseph

“A Report on the Prison System in Trinidad and Tobago”

This paper aims to investigate the prison system in Trinidad and Tobago.  Over the past few decades in the region, and particularly in Trinidad and Tobago, there have been soaring incidents of crime.  Many persons in the public are aware of some of the activities of the police, the law associations and the business sector in trying to curb the rising tide of violence, but not as much is known of the actions of the prison system, or its place in the work of keeping the country safe.  While the prison system is usually seen as a place where less desirable members of society are locked away and the keys thrown away, there have been several changes made to the system over the years.  The question does however remain, what is and should be the role of system in the fight against crime and what impact does the penitentiary system have on the persons who are associated with it, from the convicts to the wardens?  Is the prison system truly making them better persons and what recommendations can be made to advance its work?

Business Session #1

Msgr. Patrick Anthony

“Caribbean Theology Today and the New Technologies”


How to use the conference’s website: Caribbeatheologytoday.net; for postings, research and the enhancement of our communication as a community of theological reflection. We shall also explore how to follow the conference on Facebook at : Caribbean Theology Today; and on Twitter at : Carib’nTheologyToday

        Idris Hamid Memorial Lecture

Fr. Michel Francis

       “The New Roman Missal: Challenges and Opportunities for the Church in the Caribbean”


We are creatures of habit and not very open to change.  We prefer to do things the way we were taught and often resist those who try to lead us to something new.  However, when we allow ourselves to be led and trust in the process, we often find that the change was not “bad’ after all.

On 27 November 2011 the Church will be making changes to the way we pray the Mass.  We have been there before and some remember the difficulties in making the adjustments.  What are some of the challenges we face as Church in the Caribbean?  Every challenge ought to bring new opportunities.  What are some of the opportunities for growth?  These will be explored in the paper entitled: “The New Roman Missal: Challenges and Opportunities for the Church in the Caribbean”.



Wednesday, June 29: Presentation #6

Dr. Ramón Luz?rraga

“The Poetry of Revolution and the Prose of Reform: The two facing Pages of English Caribbean politics and Caribbean political Theology


Political theology, which I define broadly as the modern way of discussing the ancient Christian charism of developing and transforming culture, takes many forms around the world.  Each form is, naturally and in part, a response to the civic life and form of government from which that theology comes from.

North American political theology is basically reformist (e.g. John Courtney Murray’s public theology).  In addressing social concerns, there is a shared consensus that the civic society and political institutions of the country are sound, and that injustice comes as a result of a corruption or a missing element which requires critique and correction.  Even those political theologians who borrow elements of Latin American liberation theology believe in the promise of American civic life and political institutions, but argue that that promise has not been fully realized for disenfranchised groups.  People who engage in revolutionary rhetoric define it in a way similar to how astronomers use it: a return to a starting point.  In other words, in a parliamentary democracy, such persons seek not to decapitate the status quo, but appeal to the original ideals of the nation and critically retrieve them for the present, and thus enfranchise those who don’t experience the full benefit of a free society.

The early stages of Latin American liberation theology was revolutionary in the French or Russian sense of the word.  Seeing the status quo civic society and political institutions as beyond reform, they sought to upend and replace the status quo with a liberated society which enfranchised the poor majority economically, politically, and socially.  This was in direct response to Latin American governments, both civil and military, dictatorial or illiberally or incompletely democratic, which were governed as oligarchies.  Reform movements were denounced as tepid given the prevailing crisis conditions faced by the poor.

I want to argue that Caribbean theology is a political theology.  Specifically, it is a unique hybrid of reformist and revolutionary elements which reflects, in part, how the English Caribbean islands have been governed.  It is a liberation theology, but not in the Latin American sense of revolutionary liberation.  Caribbean political theology does not seek the revolutionary overthrow of the political status quo because political liberation has already been achieved and, for the most part, viable parliamentary democracies have been established which have proven their durability in the face of social and economic challenges.  The question posed to these governments reflects more a North American reformist vein of working to enfranchising all people and satisfy the bold vision of independence given by Caribbean leaders like Grantley Adams, Errol Barrow, Alexander Bustamante, Norman Manley, Eric Williams, etc.  Having said that, Caribbean political theology is not a straight reformist theology in the vein of North American thinkers like John Courtney Murray.  Although Caribbean theologians appear to have no quarrel with the political constitution of the English-speaking Caribbean, they certainly do quarrel with social and economic forces which compromise the ability of people to fully participate in society.  This remains true even though the Caribbean islands, to varying degrees, have achieved an impressive degree of economic and social development since independence (to the point that Barbados is considered by the U.N. a developed nation).  Caribbean political theology has a revolutionary dimension which is revolutionary insofar as it seeks to critically retrieve the promise of independence, and though it will not seek to decapitate and replace the status quo completely, it does seek a social restructuring which is in many ways a major departure from what existed before.  Primary in this revolutionary vision is the development of a uniquely Caribbean culture which goes beyond the old African/European/Indian and black/white distinctions.

Here Caribbean political theology is in part a response to English Caribbean movements to independence which could be revolutionary in tone and in some of the policies pursued, but reformist in practice in how independence was won and, once independence was gained, how all social and economic changes was done through a parliamentary government and a civic space for political activity outside of government.  Exceptions to this prove the rule.  Examples can be drawn from across the Caribbean.


Presentation #7

Dr. Anna Perkins


Carne Vale (Goodbye to flesh)?; Caribbean Carnival, Notions of flesh and Christian Ambivalence about the Body

Presentation #8

Mr. Felix Edinborough

“Reflections on a Catholic Performing Artiste in a Society of Celebrations”


                                                      Definition of title:


In West Indian society we experience many celebrations –Carnivals –Heritage –Crop Over – Jonkanoo – Jazz Festivals


Many Catholics are performers in these celebrations


Need for some kind of Theology as reference and guidance for performers

Performers have great impact on the society young and old.

Performers should be aware of their role as Catholics and their influence on their



Theology and religious references:


      I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. (Jn:10:10)

      The wedding feast at Cana – a celebration and the first public miracle

      The parable of the talents (Mt. 25:14-30)

      The Pope:


In a Letter to Artists, in 1999, Pope John Paul II wrote: “The human craftsman mirrors the image of God as Creator.” If we understand that we are in relationship with God who is Creator, then it is necessary that we take stock of the way in which we are using his gifts; that we examine how we exercise the creative power he has shared with us.


At a symposium on priests and laity, last week in Rome, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, spoke about the need for Catholics to do more than engage the culture. He said: “We have an obligation as Catholics to study and understand the world around us. We have a duty not just to penetrate and engage it, but to convert it to Jesus Christ


                   Actual work of performers today – give examples

      What a theology would mean to performers.

      Personal experience


Idea is not to present a theology but to show the need for it so that discussion of the topic will be stimulated and the Church will recognize the need and act upon it.

Presentation #9

Fr. Hugh Logan

“Conversational Preaching: A+ for Caribbean Congregations”


The homily is a key element of the Roman Catholic liturgy. In recent times, the lay faithful especially the young have been calling for better deliveries of homilies. A conversational homily is a style of delivery which connects with Caribbean congregations. As the homilist immerses himself in the lives’ of the people through ministry and his daily interactions with society, the people’s conversations are heard and engaged. The people’s conversations are indicators of what they want to hear. People will not hear the homily if their minds are somewhere else. One must preach what is on the minds of the people. People feel less threatened when there is dialogue; walls of defence are broken and there is greater openness to listen. Jesus preached his message/the kingdom through conversations.

The Cheryl Herrera Memorial Lecture

Dr. Sylvia Rose-Ann Walker

“Women in Catholic Media in Trinidad and Tobago”

                        Catholic Identity and Media imaging – who is paying attention?

As part of a larger study which seeks to ascertain the impact of media images of Catholic Caribbean women on certain lifestyle choices of young Caribbean Catholics, this paper reveals the responses of teenage Catholic girls in Trinidad and Tobago (TT) as it seeks to address two inter-related questions: is the “Woman of Faith” series in the Catholic News (CN) getting the attention of young TT female Catholics and what kind of impact is the series having on their faith and identity formation?  Data collection consists of a one-page questionnaire and informal ethnographic interviews, the responses forming the base on which the paper constructs its contemporary imaging perspective of identity formation in young female Catholics. Such perspective is doubly significant for Caribbean theology in that it provides a reality gauge/gaze on identity and faith imaging for both the Archdiocese of Port-of-Spain which is currently addressing the theme “Revitalising Catholic Culture and Identity” throughout its parishes and for the Catholic News which “has an irreplaceable role in forming Christian consciences and reflecting the Church’s viewpoint on contemporary issues,” as declared about Catholic press by Pope Benedict XVI to the Italian federation of Weeklies on 26th November 2010 (Catholic News, 5 Dec 2010, p.5).


Friday, July01 : Presentation #10

                               Dexter A.S. Brereton

“An Examination of the idea of the   Common Good viewed through the experience of the recent smelter debate in South-Western Trinidad”

Leave a Reply