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Gerard Mannion (Sept. 21, 2019)

It is with tremendous sadness and shock that the Executive Committee of INSeCT announces the news that Gerard Mannion, President of the International Network of Societies for Catholic Theology, passed away suddenly on Saturday, September 21, 2019.

Gerard Mannion has left his mark on a broad spectrum of theological forums. He was the Chair in Catholic Studies in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Georgetown University, a senior research fellow at the Berkley Center, and the founding chair of the Ecclesiological Investigations International Research Network. As a long-standing member of the Catholic Theological Society of America, he had assumed the presidency of the International Network of Societies for Catholic Theology in 2017.

He was published widely in the fields of ecclesiology, ethics, and public theology, as well as in other fields of systematic theology and philosophy. His numerous books include Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism: Evangelii Gaudium and the Papal Agenda (2017), Where We Dwell in Common: Pathways for Dialogue in the 21st Century (ed., 2015), and The Routledge Companion to the Christian Church (2008, ed. with Lewis Mudge). He was also editor of the Bloomsbury Publishing series “Ecclesiological Investigations” and series editor, with Oxford University’s Mark Chapman, of Palgrave Macmillan’s “Pathways for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue” series.

Gerard had commitments to a thoroughly accountable and above all inclusive Roman Catholic Church among the faithful; its continuing and eager ecumenical engagement outside the fold; and a readiness to think and write well as a public theologian. He was a great lover of the Church, a passionate ecumenist, and a loyal, collaborative colleague in every endeavour he undertook, which were many.

As President of INSeCT, Gerard worked with passion and commitment to develop the Network so that it could continue to respond to its vision and mission of connecting Catholic theology worldwide as it serves both the Church and the world. His intelligence, dedication, humour and leadership shall be sorely missed.

We  keep Gerard, his family, colleagues and friends, in our  thoughts and prayers.

Eternal rest grant to Gerard, O Lord;
and let light perpetual shine upon him. 
May his soul, and the souls 
of all the faithful departed, 
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

The Executive of INSeCT

Nontando Hadebe (CTSSA)

Maeve Louise Heaney (ACTA)

Gunter Prüller-Jagenteufel (ESCT)

Paulo Fernando Carneiro de Andrade (SOTER)

INSeCT Statement on Gender justice

PDF Version: INSeCT_Statement_Gender-Justice_2017

At the meeting in Belo Horizonte 2014 INSeCT decided to push forward a three-year research project dedicated to the issue of gender justice, especially the participation of women in decision making processes in church and in society. In this way INSeCT aimed to answer Pope Francis’ call in “Evangelii gaudium” (Nos 103-104) “to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church” as well as in society.

INSeCT Network Council Meeting_Bangalore-2017The delegates at the INSeCT Council meeting 2017

At this year’s meeting in Bangalore INSeCT dedicated part of its meeting to this research project. Presentations from all five regions, (Asia-Pacific, South America, Africa, Europe and North America, respectively) followed by two sessions of reflection and discussion enabled us to map a way forward.

This brief document presents

1. The main points of these presentations
2. Reflections, insights and challenges that they provoked;
3. Possible ways forward

1. Five presentations

Representatives of the five regions each gave an overview of their research projects and shared the main insights as follows – the three main issues of each region are given below:

Asia Pacific [Kochurani Abraham]

  • Women of Asian-Pacific societies, within the wide diversity of contexts which the area includes, are finding their voices heard in the secular sphere in spite of the patriarchal cultural conditioning of their particular contexts.
  • The Church in much of the Asia-Pacific Region Church lags behind the secular sphere on the question of gender justice. There is a wide gap between its statements and praxis, which often lack clarity of process in its work towards inclusive partnerships.
  • The potentially prophetic role of INSeCT’s member societies in the Church as a catalyst for change, in providing theological insights into reimagining gender justice is being explored by some of the local associations (ACTA).

 South America [María Marcela Mazzini/Virgina R. Azcuy]

The representatives of South America chose the approach of a biographical perspective, which points out the nexus between some of the milestones of their lives with the proposed topic for this INSeCT Conference:

  • Feminism seems inseparable from an appropriate theological understanding of and debate on gender issues. Such refers firstly to the dignity of women and to the fundamental equality of all human beings. The feminist debate, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean as regions noticeably marked by inequality in distinctive ways, must be located in the field of social justice and the wider struggle for human rights.
  • Based on these fundamental assumptions, feminism can function as a global and local historical movement, theoretical and practical, diversified, in the search of promoting women’s human dignity – such aims related to the wider care of every creature and of creation in general.
  • Within the feminist framework, the gender category emerges to explain how a gender-dominated understanding of women operates as a cause of oppression and subordination in a patriarchal or androcentric vision of the socio-cultural system. The structures and teaching of the Catholic Church reflects these in a unique, sometimes even paradoxical way: we encounter the use of gender perspective as well as criticism of alleged “gender ideology”

 Africa [Nontando Hadebe]

The African representative focused on the intersection and mutual dependence of Culture, Constitutions (human rights), and Christianity (Religion) in the lives of African Catholic women, in the light of which she affirmed that

  • All questions regarding the welfare and status of women in Africa are explained within the wider framework of culture, which includes conceptions and constructions of masculinity as entailing dominance over women. This makes it more difficult to question the patriarchal culture from a human rights perspective which is regarded as “western” and “neo-colonial”.
  • The triple oppression of women in the constitution, due to their identity as black Africans, as women whose legal status was that of minors, within an economic system based on mining, industry and large scale farming that favored men over women, is a result of colonialism. Therefore, a critical analysis of culture that takes into account the historical past of colonization and its ongoing effects on the lives of the people and particularly women is necessary.
  • The complicity of Christianity to the oppression of women in Africa needs to be recognized.

 Europe [Gunter Prüller-Jagenteufel]

From a European perspective the main insights are as follows:

  • Overcoming the gender bias in the Catholic Church requires a multi-dimensional approach in analyzing the structures of the church, especially clericalism (the latter understood not only as a personal weakness but also as an oppressive system).
  • On the theological level we have to overcome the theory of complementarity between men and women which can entail that men define the “place” for women, i.e. their “fitting” roles in family as well as in society.
  • This means there is a need to develop a post-essentialist anthropology where human persons are not categorized according to their “essence” as man or woman, but as equal beings with equal potential (autonomy, reason, and relation) as well as equal rights.

 North America [Nancy Pineda-Madrid]

From the basis of a reminder of the broad and diverse reality of the continent of North America and the countries it includes, the North American representative presented:

  • A definition and description of the current situation in terms of gender impasse experienced as the invisibility of women and the reality of conflict with ecclesial authority, with two case studies that exemplify this impasse:
    • Feminicide/femicide and forms of resistance to this found, for example, in the public protests of the people, as well as in artistic works (artworks such as the re-imagination of Pietà and Guadalupe) – in contrast to the scandal of the silence until now of the church(es) in denouncing this ongoing feminicide;
    • The (US) Leadership Congress of Women Religious (LCWR) investigations by two curial congregations and subsequent apostolic visitation, along with the LCWR response of contemplative solidarity.
  • A theological response to gender impasse and the women’s resistance and/or engagement of it – through the development of a theological understanding of fear as “sin” as well as a theology of hope.

2. Reflections, Insights and Challenges Provoked

 Major themes:

  • Gender Justice is not a new theme: the “tiredness” felt by those involved in this theme was found across the board, in all present, which invites to a reflection on the underlying issues that hijack any process of implementation. What happened to the feminism of the eighties?
  • One of the problems we have to deal with is ecclesial culture, theology and accountability. There is a huge gap between official statements and policies and the actual practice of clerical non-accountability (e.g. in sexual abuse cases), and its link with the lack of structural accountability of the church.
  • The question of authority and power in the church: We identify the need for a robust theological reflection on Baptism so as to untie the knot between power and ministry in the area of the three munera [priest, prophet, king], and develop areas of responsibility that will broaden the base of ecclesial governance.
  • The gender issue cannot be limited to being viewed as only a women’s issue. Men’s voices on the issues of women’s participation, gender equality and masculinity have to be taken into account. At the same time men need to understand that justice and human rights are indivisible and that men are as much affected by patriarchal structures as women. How the image of masculinity is lived out in relation to women and how the structures of power in the Church affect both merits attention.
  • We identify the need for a holistic theological anthropology that factors in the gender issues (relationality, intersectionality, the effects of colonization, masculinities, LGTBQI, etc.). This implies that the church and differing groups working for gender justice must be attentive to the need to avoid binary oppositional thinking and all gender stereotype and overt generalizations of any kind.
  • We identify the need for theological reflection on the fact that we do not choose our sexual orientation or gender identity but rather discover and need to develop it. From here the need for church and theology to foster acceptance of the sexual identity and orientation of each individual as well their respective sexual autonomy.
  • It was noted that the gifts of women religious to the church can be prophetic and problematic at the same time, stretching from conservative submissiveness to intelligent contemplative resistance.
  • We identify and lament the lack of theological literacy of contemporary clerics, especially in the episcopate, and we assume the responsibility of collaborating with and (in)forming them;
  • We lament and call for theological reflection on the “sin” of fear – personal, institutional and cultural – as one of the main underlying obstacles to changing the church’s structures, in particular the fear of losing power, of challenging power and of bearing the consequences of disobedient behaviour or dissent.
  • We recognize the danger of ideological “anti-genderism” as well as the problematic nature of some aspects of the so called “New Feminism” and call for the clarity around the culturally biased nature of some of its grounding principles.
  • We see the need to listen to and tell the narratives of our marginalized brothers and sisters who live on the edge of our social and cultural milieu, so as to better understand the current situation of the world.

3. Possible Ways Forward

At our meeting there was a general consensus in the realization that the question of gender justice is not a theme that is finished and dealt with but that as theologians we have the duty to continue the struggle for justice for all. At the same time we see the challenge to work out how to move forward intelligently in a way that allows each society work and make a genuinely positive impact in their respective contexts and therefore collectively together in a global sense, while also addressing other broader issues that face the church and the world and that are often the ones that underpin the structures impeding gender justice in the first place. Some of the areas that emerged in that discussion were:

  • How, given the difficulty of bridging policy and practice, can we get everyone around the table for an open and honest discussion of these issues, in particular those who lead the church? We see the need for a nuanced approach and careful use of language so as not to alienate those who think differently from ourselves;
  • We recognize Pope Francis’ papacy as a kairos moment, a time of opportunity for a bigger step forward towards a truly pastoral church and theology – an opportunity not to be wasted.
  • Theological-Ecclesial Dialogue: We need to discuss and clarify with representatives of the hierarchy our common understanding of Magisterium and the calling of the theologian. Magisterium could be better considered as a verb, not a noun, and in this way shift our understanding of who exercises magisterium. There is no “the” magisterium but different persons with different roles in the church who exercise it differently. Theologians also have magisterium; and so do women. We can, as part of our vocation, exercise the ministry of magisterium and prophetic leadership in partnership and communion with ecclesial leaders.
  • Lastly, we identified the need for the translation of theology: How are we making our theological discourse accessible to the wider public, Church and world (young people, minorities, artists…etc.), so that we are not closed upon ourselves? At times, our calling is to stand between structural church and the people, and translate both to each other.

In the light of all the above, the Assembly proposed that the best way to move forward into the next three years was to do so in the following ways.

In terms of the theme of gender justice, the Assembly wishes to encourage regional and national member societies to consider what steps can be taken by their members to help overcome the problems, disparities and injustices he project has brought to light, and how INSeCT can incorporate and offer ongoing and periodic attention to such promotion. To that end, INSeCT will

  • Send a summary of the work of the 2017 Assembly to each of the member associations and societies for them to reflect and deliberate upon how each one should and can move forward in their particular regional and national contexts. This is the document you are now reading.
  • Investigate the possibility of publishing the five regional presentations, for which the Steering Committee could coordinate a sub-committee, from representatives of the various associations, to coordinate that work (these five reports will also be sent to the executive committees of each society/ association, to discern the implementation of this second step).

In terms of the focus of the focus of the next three to six years, in the light of the discussions of the Assembly, and in response to the overwhelming awareness of the need to open a broader forum on the underlying issues this research project has unveiled, as well as the exceptional opportunity afforded us in and through the papacy of Pope Francis, the Assembly voted to take on and address the following theme over the coming three years:

“A Kairos for Catholic Theology: Serving the Church, Serving the World”.

Following the INSeCT General Council discussions in Bangalore (July 2017), the incoming INSeCT Steering Committee, comprising of representatives from five global regions, has agreed the shared intention to plan the next two General Councils (2020 and 2023) in a continuum, to be held in Rome and Africa, respectively, and in the coming years to strengthen INSeCT’s network and funding, to raise its profile, expand and develop further its network and to better serve the church at differing levels, at grassroots, leadership and authorities as a facilitator of dialogue and discernment, a collaborative partner and critical friend in theologically reflecting on the opportunities and challenges of the current times, for the good of the church and the world.

Edited by Maeve Heaney, Nontando Hadebe, and Gunter Prüller-Jagenteufel

Board meeting 2016

Steering Committee Meeting 2016, July 27-31, in Bangalore at Dharmaram College

Bangalore_2016_July_3  Bangalore_2016_July_2

James, Nancy, Shaji George Kochuthara (our host), Martin, Gaston. Érico was missing. Visiting the Campus of Dharmaram College, where we were hosted.


Martin and James in dialogue with Kochurani Abraham, the new member of the Board after James stepped down at the end of the meeting


Guests of the study house of CMI Congregation

Bangalore_2016_July_14  Bangalore_2016_July_16

In conversation with the Rector of the comunity of CMI Congregation, Rev Dr Thomas Aykara CMI, the President of DVK, Prof. Dr. Paulachan Kochappilly CMI, the Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, Prof. Dr. Saju Chackalackal CMI, and the Dean of the Theological Faculty, Dr. Joy Philip Kakkanattu CMI, and others.

For more pictures please visit INSeCTS Facebook page

2014-2017: Various activities


Steering Committee Meetings


International Research Project 2014-2017

  • Presentation
  • Activities and planned events in the different reagions (coming soon)

Board Meeting 2015

Steering Committee Meeting 2015, July 27-31, in Rome


Lodging in the “Domus Sanctae Marthae” in the Vatican, the domicile of Pope Francis

Posing with a Swiss Guard: f.l.t.r. Gaston Ogui, Martin M. Lintner, Nancy Pineda-Madrid, James McEvoy, Érico João Hammes


Our conference room in the Collegio Teutonico; despite the Roman summer heat und high humidity of air we’ve been working hard …


Every morning we had the opportunity to celebrate the Mass in the grottos of Saint Peter’s Basilica


In the Campo Santo Teutonico

2015_July_3  2015_July_5

During a coffee break


Meeting with Rev. fr. Friedrich Bechina, Undersecretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, for an exchange on the role of academic theology

INSeCT Global Research Project 2014-2017

A question of gender justice:

The role of women in decision-making in different areas of Church and society


The International Network of Societies for Catholic Theology (INSeCT) has launched a three-year global research project, its fourth such project.

The delegates at the INSeCT Council meeting of July 2014 in Belo Horizonte unanimously decided on the topic “A question of gender justice: the role of women in decision-making in different areas of church and society”, seeing it as the logical follow-up from the previous topic (“The nature, function and location of theology, with particular attention to the power of theology to overcome power abuse in church and society”). Today’s global challenges – poverty, violence, war, ecological disasters, and human rights violations resulting from ethnic, religious, and gender discrimination – all especially affect women. Gender issues, therefore, require the special attention of the church and all disciplines of theology.

The issue

INSeCT wants to take up the call of Pope Francis who, in Evangelii Gaudium (nos. 103-104), urged theologians to contribute to an up-to-date theology of women:

I readily acknowledge that many women share pastoral responsibilities with priests, helping to guide people, families and groups and offering new contributions to theological reflection. But we need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church. Because “the feminine genius is needed in all expressions in the life of society, the presence of women must also be guaranteed in the workplace”[Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 295] and in the various other settings where important decisions are made, both in the Church and in social structures. […] This presents a great challenge for pastors and theologians, who are in a position to recognize more fully what this entails with regard to the possible role of women in decision-making in different areas of the Church’s life.

Of course there is much discussion today about the concept of “the feminine”. Further, it is impossible to redefine the role of women in church and society without also discussing the role of men. So our task will include a broad theological discussion on sex and gender. We are aware that the arguments about gender are highly controversial, within the church as well as in non-Christian and secular contexts.

Within the Catholic Church there is a tendency to lump all gender theories together and label them “ideological”. In response to this tendency, an open, differentiated discussion is essential, because the refusal to engage in open dialogue and discourse is itself ideological.

Gender justice, gender equality, and the basic human rights of men and women are key questions for a worldwide ethical discussion, especially with regard to the role of religion(s) in society. The commitment to gender justice and equality requires further sociological, anthropological, and theological reflection. As theologians we are challenged to make a contribution, all the more because this is a precondition to “recognize more fully what this entails with regard to the possible role of women in decision-making in different areas of the Church’s life” (EG 104).

So INSeCT encourages all its member societies to engage in open and diverse discussion about this topic, with an open mind, an unambiguous option for the underprivileged, and a clear outlook on particular regional and historical contexts.

Some possible topics have been suggested at the INSeCT Council meeting:

  • Biblical perspectives:
    • from Gen 1:27 to Gal 3:28
    • the ministry of women in the first church communities
  • Anthropological perspectives:
    • steps towards a truly inclusive and gender-just theological anthropology
    • the place, role, and function of women in the various local cultural traditions
  • Christological perspectives on women as imago Christi; consequences for the role of women in church and society
  • Perspectives on Mariology and the role of women in church and society
  • Ecclesiological perspectives: possible future (new) roles for women in the church
  • Institutional perspectives: a gender sensitive reflection on decision making processes in church and society
  • The Bishops’ Synod on the Family: (new) perspectives on the role of women in the family
  • Theoretical perspectives on gender: The dispute about gender and ideology; a deep and differentiated exploration of gender studies

Please feel free to come up with your own suggestions.


We ask each member society of our Network to interpret and respond to the research project in a way that is relevant to their specific regional contexts. The results will be presented at INSeCT’s next Council meeting in the summer of 2017. Following the suggestion of the Network Council, we will aim towards a large congress on this issue one or two years after the Council meeting.

We suggest that each member society nominates a person to promote and coordinate research projects within its own theological society and keep in contact with the respective delegates of the other societies.

In order to promote an interpersonal as well as interdisciplinary and international exchange, you are asked to share information about your publications on this issue, on academic research projects or conferences

We look forward to an interesting, fruitful debate and exchange of ideas and research results!

With kind regards on behalf of the Steering Committee,

Martin M. Lintner

President of INSeCT

Brixen/Bressanone – Italy, October 2014

INSeCT Newsletter 2014, October

The Triannual Meeting of INSeCT 2914, July 16-20, in Belo Horizonte

Catholic theologians from 21 countries gather in Brazil to participate in global research congress on the contribution of theology in overcoming abuses of power in Church and society and network for the future

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More information on  the Council Meeting 2014 in Belo Horizonte

The Network

INSeCT, the “International Network of Societies for Catholic Theology” has been founded by Peter Hünermann and others some 20 years ago and is made up of 35 Catholic theological societies from across the globe. Its aim is to provide a forum for exchange and support between Catholic theological societies around the world. In particular, it seeks to support Catholic theological societies in the global south.

The Council of INSeCT meets in a tri-annual cycle, usually a period of research on a certain topic. So the meeting is focused on a summing-up of the latest global research project and discussing the theme for the upcoming three years.

The Conference

So this July the Network Council Meeting was held in Belo Horizonte (being the first ever meeting of the Network located in the global south), discussing the research project that had been developed in 2011 at the meeting in Chicago: “The nature, function and location of theology, with particular attention to the power of theology to overcome power abuse in Church and Society.

So the representatives of the different theological societies presented their research on that topic that had been organized by the respective societies during the recent three years. Among the international keynote speakers at the event, held in the light of Pope Francis’s call for a renewal and reform of the Church’s mission, were Fr. Dr. Friedrich Bechina of the Congregation for Catholic Education (Holy See) and Fr. Peter Hughes SSC, Executive Secretary of the Latin American Bishops’ Justice and Solidarity Department.

During the discussions the idea came up, to present the upcoming theological works of the next three years’ term in an international conference for a broader public. The new leading team will be working on that.

The upcoming theme of theological research and discussion

For the new 3 years’ term the delegates chose to concentrate on the question, how theology can contribute in the improvement of the situation of women in church and society. So INSeCT takes up the call of Pope Francis, who urged theologians in his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii gaudium” (No. 103-105) to contribute to an up-to-date theology of women, which in fact means a theology of sex and gender, since it is not possible to discuss the role of women in church and society without discussing the role of men as well – that means to take up the challenges of our times, especially gender issues.

It was the unanimous decision of the delegates to take up that topic, because they felt it was the logical follow-up of the latest. All the global challenges of today – poverty, violence, war, human rights violations out of ethnical, religious and gender discrimination, ecological disasters, etc. – affect women most and therefore theological research has to be done in that sector.

The Steering Committee will prepare a paper to present this issue in more detail and to promote research projects for the next three years. An invitation letter and necessary information will be sent to all the member societies.

The new presidium

In Order to better represent the global reality of the Catholic community of scholars, the Network Council Meeting 2014 took the decision that the Steering Committee would be composed of five members, representing North- and Latin America, Africa, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.

The team that is responsible for the new three years’ term has been elected also unanimously:

  • President: Martin M. Lintner OSM (Italy & Austria), Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule Brixen, President of ESCT
  • Vice Presidents: Nancy Piñeda-Madrid (USA), Boston College, President elect of ACHTUS, and Érico João Hammes (Brasil), Pontificia Univ. Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Vice President of SOTER
  • Members: Gaston Ogui Cossi (Côte d’Ivoir), Catholic Univ. West Africa, Abidjan, President of ATCB, and James McEvoy (Australia), Australian Catholic University, Adelaide SA, President of ACTA.

INSeCT can be found in the internet

Since many years, INSeCT in realizing its goals is using the electronic media. Please visit the web-presence of the Network: There you can find quite some useful and interesting materials, e.g. the regional reports 2014 on the state of (catholic) theology in the different regions of the world as well as presentations of various initiatives on the recent topic “The nature, function and location of theology, with particular attention to the power of theology to overcome power abuse in Church and Society”.

Please note also the following: When you visit you have the opportunity to subscribe as a follower of our blog. Just click the button [+ Follow] on the bottom right, and enter your email address. We will inform you via email of new posts so that you can be up-to-date!

If you want to share ideas, projects, or initiatives, please send an e-mail to, so the information will be posted at INSeCT’s blog.

Facebook group of INSeCT

In order to share inform on INSeCT, we have created a facebook group: This platform is dedicated to sharing resources, blogs, posts, writings, questions, and discussions to support each other in engaging the International Networking of Societies for Catholic Theology.

All members of the societies that are INSeCT members are invited to join the group. Please note: It is a closed group and therefore any new member has to be approved by the admin (Martin M. Lintner).


We express our gratitueds to the former presidium, i.e. Eamonn Conway, who served INSeCT as president from 2011 to 2014, Catherine Clifford, who was president for two terms from 2008 to 2014, and to Valmor da Silva, who was vice-president from 2011 to 2014. Special thanks go also to Nancy Piñeda-Madrid and Godfrey Katumba, who were part of the Belo Horizonte-Council Preparation Committee, as well as staff from SOTER who assisted us!