Goals and Means
The Goal of the Network is to foster academic theology and theological research in various continents through communication among the member societies, particularly concerning information about projects and works in progress, the result of academic research, and theological congresses, conventions and meetings; encouragement of research within the theological disciplines and stimulation of interdisciplinary work in the interest of academic theology; an ecumenical orientation and dialogue with other religions and world views.
This goal will be pursued through ongoing communication through electronic means, occasional meetings of the member societies, and other means of academic collaboration.
A Brief History of INSeCT
In January 1996 Peter Hünermann, from the University of Tübingen, invited representatives of Catholic Theological Societies around the world to gather to discuss the possibilities for fostering greater communication among Catholic theologians around the world in order to advance the work of Catholic theology. In response to this invitation, a gathering of theologians took place in conjunction with the assembly of the Conference of Catholic Theological Institutions (COCTI), a group composed of deans of Catholic theological schools, at Sherbrooke University, Québec, Canada, held 1-6 August 1996.
On 4 August 1996 the International Network of Societies of Catholic Theology (INSeCT) was founded and statutes were drafted and agreed upon by Hünermann, Mário Fabri dos Anjos (Sociedade de Teologia e Ciências de Religio, SOTER, Sao Paul, Brazil), Paul G. Crowley, S.J. (Catholic Theological Society of America, CTSA), Carlos Maria Galli (Sociedad Argentina de Teologia, SAT), Meinrad Hegba (Association Oecumenique des Theologiens Africaines, AOTA), Christian Johansson (Sociedad Chilena de Teologia), Anne E. Patrick SNJM (Catholic Theological Society of America, CTSA), Nico Schreurs (Europäische Gesellschaft für katholische Theologie, ET), Ignacio Mader Vargas, SDS (Associacion de teologos koinonia, Bogata, Columbia). This assembly de facto constituted the first Network Council, with representatives from member societies. Elected as the founding officers for three year terms at this meeting were Peter Hünermann (president) and Mário Fabri dos Anjos and Anne E. Patrick (vice-presidents).
In the words of the original statutes: “the Goal of the Network is to foster academic theology and theological research in various continents through: communication among the members societies, particularly concerning information about projects and work in progress, the result of academic research, and theological congresses, conventions and meetings; encouragement of research within theological disciplines and stimulation of interdisciplinary work in the interest of academic theology; an ecumenical orientation and dialogue with other religions and world views. This goal will be pursued through ongoing communication through electronic means, occasional meetings of the members societies, and other means of academic collaboration.”
In order to reach these goals, INSeCT invites the participation of societies of Catholic theology around the world (identified as ordinary corporate members with voting privileges) and academic societies with a particular interest in Catholic theology (extraordinary members do not have voice or a vote in the deliberations of the Network unless otherwise determined by a majority of the Network Council). The Network is composed of a Steering Committee, with a president and two vice-presidents, which meet annually, and the Network Council, constituted by delegates representing each society that is an ordinary corporate member, which meets every three years.
On 5-8 June 1997 the first formal convening of the Steering Committee took place in conjunction with the CTSA convention, which was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. In attendance at that meeting were Steering Committee members Hünermann, Fabri dos Anjos, and Patrick, as well as Orlando Espín, representing the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians in the United States (ACHTUS), Raymond F. Collins, COCTI representative, and Shawn Copeland and Jamie Phelps from the Black Catholic Theological Symposium (BCTS). President Hünermann reported that numerous societies wished to become affiliated with INSeCT: the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences Theological Advisory Commission; Societé Canadienne de Théologie, in addition to ET, CTSA, SOTER, ACHTUS, BCTS. The major achievement during 1997 was to launch the website for INSeCT, which was to be the main vehicle of communication for INSeCT. The web was set up on a server at the University of Tübingen and managed by webmaster Oliver Dyma.
The next meeting of the Steering Committee took place during the 3rd annual Congress of ET that met in Nijmegen, Netherlands, 22-26 August 1998. The main agenda item for this meeting was to discuss ways to utilize the INSeCT homepage on the web. Various avenues were explored: describe the work of INSeCT to a broader public; provide a bulletin board for theological news to be posted; establish links for web theological research in various regions and explore ways that the INSeCT website can be added to other theological resources websites; invite summaries of conventions for posting in the “News” section; send a routine bi-monthly invitation to societies to send any further news they may want to share. The process began at this meeting to pursue tax-exempt status for INSeCT with the German government, which was finalized in the following year.
The second Network Council convened on 7 August 1999 at Leuven, Belgium in conjunction with the 8th General Assembly of the triennial meeting of the Conference of Catholic Theological Institutions, which was held August 5-10. The Council welcomed five new societies as ordinary members. The five new societies represented were: Societe Canadienne de Theologie, Sociedad Uruguaya de Teologia (SUT), Black Catholic Theological Symposium (BCTS, USA), Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians in the United States (ACHTUS, USA), and Australian Catholic Theological Association (ACTA). That brought the total number of ordinary members to 11, with several other organizations in either the category of extraordinary member or “groups in contact” with INSeCT. At this meeting Peter Hünermann was elected for a second term as president, and Marcio Fabri dos Anjos and Anne E. Patrick for a second term as vice-presidents.
A Steering Committee meeting was scheduled to occur at the meeting of the CTSA in 2000 held in San Jose, California, but was cancelled. In lieu of this meeting, at the initiative of Vice President Anne Patrick, a luncheon for INSeCT members in attendance at the CTSA convention was held with representatives from ACHTUS (Orlando Espin); ACTA (Robert Gascoigne), BCTS (M. Shawn Copeland), CTSA (Anne Patrick), and the ET (Thomas Fliethmann).
The Steering Committee met in Graz, Austria, 26-27 August 2001. Two main items of business were addressed. There was much discussion of the written report submitted by the webmaster, Oliver Dyma, with special attention given to the increasing audience from around the world to the INSeCT website. The second item concerned the preparation for the meeting of the next Network Council assembly, scheduled to take place in June of 2002, in which new officers were to be elected.
On 7-8 June 2002 the third Network Council Meeting took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA during the convention of the Catholic Theological Society of America. The Network Council agreed to initiate two new major projects, which were proposed by outgoing president Hünermann. One proposal was that the INSeCT website could provide a forum for regional reports on the state of Catholic theology worldwide. A second proposal concerned how the INSeCT website could help foster the dissemination of the work of Catholic theologians in Africa by offering the opportunity to post brief essays or summaries of books, no more than fifteen pages. New officers were also elected: Bradford Hinze (CTSA) was elected president and Paulo Fernando Carneiro de Andrade (SOTER) and Thomas Fliethmann (ET) were elected vice presidents.
On 6-7 June 2003 the Steering Committee met in conjunction with the Catholic Theological Society of America Convention being held 5-8 June held in Cincinnati, Ohio. Two agenda items concerned the two new projects initiated the previous year: the first project has been named Catholic Theology Worldwide: Regional Reports and the second called African Catholic Theology. Deliberations about these projects continued. A new agenda item concerned a preliminary discussion of the Network Council meeting scheduled for the summer of 2005.
10 years of INSeCT
On 4 August 1996, the International Network of Societies of Catholic Theology was founded at meeting held at Sherbrooke University, Québec, Canada.- Peter Hünermann, invited a group of theologians representing Catholic societies of theology from various corners of the world … read more …
What is distinctive
What makes the collaborative work of INSeCT distinctive from other Catholic and Ecumenical groups of theologians? In order to answer that question, it is helpful to recall that since the time of the Second Vatican Councils two important international efforts of collaboration among Catholic theologians have taken place and one key ecumenical effort. read more …