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Theology conference to explore societal issues

The Caribbean Theology Conference arose from the need felt by many in the region to develop a way of doing theology which is rooted in our reality.

Fr Martin Sirju said while there has been a “positive orientation” towards the Caribbean Theology Conference over the years, there still remains the need to “get what we study” from the issues that impinge society.

Responding to a question from Catholic News at the launch of the 25th anniversary of the Caribbean Theology Conference, May 21, the Vicar General agreed that socio-economic and socio-political factors need to be “further explored”.

He however mentioned that these topics were addressed at previous conferences, specifically by theologian Dr Anna Kasafi Perkins’ ‘Faces of Jesus in the Caribbean’ lecture which highlighted the positive and negative sides of how political figures such as former Grenada Prime Minister Sir Eric Gairy portray themselves as “saviours” to citizens.

Fr Sirju gave another example on a talk on inculturation at last year’s Conference in Suriname where the Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit spoke of the challenges involved in making the country resilient to hurricanes and natural disasters.

Continuing the discourse, Fr Sirju, assured that similarly, socio-economic and socio-political topics will be reflected upon in this year’s June 24–28 conference by AEC General Secretary Fr Donald Chambers of Kingston, Jamaica and Dr Perkins.

The conference themed Confronting the Waves: 25 Years of Caribbean Theology Today takes place at the Seminary of St John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs, Mt St Benedict.

Fr Sirju acknowledged that over the past 25 years, the Caribbean Theology Conference has had a focus on literature. “…Many of them without being planned, they just happened to be on literature. People just felt attracted to Caribbean literature,” he told those gathered at the Antilles Episcopal Conference’s (AEC) Gray Street, St Clair office, Port of Spain.

Panellists included Fr Sirju, moderator Rhonda Earle, Planning Committee Coordinator Bernadette Salandy. Fr Chambers also attended.

As the conference celebrates 25 years, Fr Sirju said that it’s certainly not the end as they look forward to another 25 years.

“Already we are seeing the conference taking shape on its own sometimes without any deliberate effort on our part. So the reshaping we are sure is taking place…from Catholic, now its ecumenical and we don’t know what will happen in the future, maybe there will be a wider interfaith discussion and dialogue that will evolve,” he said.