Concilium 2019-1. Città e sviluppo globale

Concilium 2019-1. Città e sviluppo globale. Oltre il paradigma Nord/Sud


Markus Büker, Alina Krause, Linda Hogan

Le traduzioni complete di questa edizione sono disponibili in formato cartaceo nelle seguenti lingue:

English: The city and global development: beyond the North-South paradigm, International Journal of Theology – Concilium, 2019/1.

Español: Ciudad y desarrollo global: más allá del paradigma Norte Sur, Revista internacional de teología – Concilium, 379, 2019.

Deutsch: Entwicklung findet Stadt, Internationale Zeitschrift für Theologie – Concilium, Ausgabe 1/2019.

Italiano: Città e sviluppo globale. Oltre il paradigma Nord/Sud, Rivista internazionale di teologia – Concilium, 2019-1.

Português: Revista internacional de teologia- Concilium, 2019-1


Global Development in an Increasingly Urbanised World

The 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement commit the international community to significant and extensive changes in order to address the current threats to life and coexistence, before it is too late. There is a certain consensus regarding the reasons why this is necessary. Humanity is crossing planetary boundaries. For example: The prevailing carbon- and resource-intensive systems of production and ways of life are unsustainable. Refugees from the Middle East and Africa mean that the global problems of wars, state failure and a lack of prospects are visible on the doorsteps of people in Europe. The emergence worldwide of authoritarian governments and populist movements, and in some cases right-wing extremism, calls the functionality of traditional democracies into question. How can we ensure that all human beings are able to live in an intact natural and social environment, and that no one is left behind? Everyone – each according to his or her specific responsibilities and means – is called upon to play a part in developing joint solutions that embrace all continents, religions and social strata. What role do religions play in this context?

For many decades the commitment to development aid and co-operation has been considered a case of distributive justice or charity on the part of a ‘developed North’ towards an ‘underdeveloped South’. It was understood as ‘catch-up development’, meaning that the ‘poor South’ was to open up to an existing model, and to integrate into the prevailing system of the early industrialised countries in the so-called ‘developed North’, which is based on capitalism and market fundamentalism.  Today, this understanding is no longer tenable. It is not just knowledge of the complex causal mechanisms linking ‘development’ and ‘underdevelopment’ that place the relationship between the North and the South in a new light. More importantly, the growing awareness of fundamental negative impacts undermines the explanatory force and legitimacy of the development paradigm itself – and thus the polarity between North and South. Problems such as hunger, climate change and all forms of structural violence can only be understood in a global context. The global expansion of the externalisation mechanism, through which the ‘developed’ early industrialised countries shift the social and environmental costs and risks of their development to other regions (in the ‘South’) and into the future, is reaching its limit. To the extent that distances across time and space are shrinking and truly global markets are emerging, it is becoming clear that the notion of ‘outside’ implied by ‘externalisation’ was always an illusion. Human beings and nature, whose exploitation was, and is, integral to the development of the North, no longer remain on the outside. The question of what we make of our life together for the benefit of all, and for the benefit of each and every generation (including those to come), can no longer be answered by a compass whose needle always points ‘North’.

Nonetheless, differences remain between North and South – not only between the different ways people live, but also between their basic opportunities: their access to resources, the realisation of their human rights, their nutrition, health, education, life expectancy, security, and their political and economic participation. Moreover, these differences are amplified in the context of the rapid urbanisation that has accompanied globalisation, and that is transforming identities, life-styles and world-views.   

That urbanisation is transforming our world is already evident in the statistics and is the focus of Messner’s opening essay Humanity on the Move. In it Messner highlights how the 21st century will be the century of the cities and how the force of this urbanisation surge will primarily affect developing countries and emerging economies in Asia and Africa.  Therefore, as Messner argues, if we are to address climate change and implement the 2030 Agenda, this can only be done in the context of new and different urban perspectives and strategies.  Models of progress, resource consumption, forms of political association and governance, the nature of work, culture and pluralism are fundamentally transformed in this process of rapid and radical urbanisation. Theological and ethical reflection on the nature and impacts of this urbanisation is both essential and overdue.  

In order to address this neglect, part two of this volume pursues a series of theological reflections on urbanisation and its challenges. Martin Ebner reflects on how the theme of cities has been present in Christian thought from its very beginnings and highlights how, in the time of Paul, the perception of city was transformed and replaced other operative motifs, including especially the Imperium Romanum. Margit Eckholt extends the theological reflection in the context of hospitality and shows how cities create new preconditions for the faith of its inhabitants and argues for a brave new way of working and living. By contrast, Felix Wilfred focuses in his farewell article regarding his presidency, not on the opportunities, but rather on the ambiguities of cities as public spaces. In a searing condemnation of neoliberalism’s impact on the poor and marginalized, particularly in cities, Wilfred argues for a theological vision and agenda that pursues a humanistic vision of coexistence in cities, one that makes common cause with others in the pursuit of humane communities and ecologically sound habitats.  

Wilfred’s analysis is both theological and ethical, and part three turns its attention in a more focused manner to the ethical dimensions of urbanisation. Both Michelle Becka and Daniel Franklin Pilario frame their respective ethical reflections in the context of globalisation and the differentiated positions occupied by cities North and South, where the boundaries of these categories are increasingly blurred. Thus, Becka discusses global responsibility from the perspective of Germany (one of the engines of industrialisation and globalisation) while considering the conditions necessary for a just city. Pilario’s point of departure is the globalised megacity of Manila. His focus is on the role of faith and religion therein, and particularly on the ability of religion to provide a vision of humane co-operation. Much like Wilfred, Pilario sees seeds of hope in the praxis of lived religion. Hogan’s analysis also focuses on the issue of humane co-operation arguing that the cities have a crucial role to play in managing pluralism while also promoting social cohesion.  

Following on from the theoretical perspectives, the fourth part foregrounds the praxis of creating humane spaces. The section consists of five inspiring cases of civil society actors who work to address the challenges in different geographical, policy and infrastructural contexts. Stephan De Beer’s focus is that of post-apartheid cities, with their challenges of spatial (re)segregation, homelessness and precarious housing.  His imperatives for theological action are drawn from his deep practical engagement with this issue. Georg Stoll meanwhile discusses how such trends re-focus the activities of NGOs like MISEREOR in global megacities, while Zárate discusses the inspirational work of the Habitat International Coalition which has been working for forty years to defend the rights of individuals to have a safe place to live with dignity and respect. Marco Kusumawijaya’s perspective from Indonesia reflects on his role as an architect and urbanist and speaks to the challenges of creating an eco-social development.  Luiz Kohara’s essay completes the praxis-focus with a discussion of the role and impact of the NGO Centro Gaspar Garcia in São Paulo, which he co-founded, and which works for social inclusion amongst the most marginalised of the urban population.

Contrary to what has been long held, the world has not become a global village, rather it has become a global city. How this city continues to develop will depend not only on its diverse heritage and the existing structures and institutions, but also on how well people from the various continents succeed in exploring joint ways of living together, and in the process, creating new identities and solidarities that enable a good life for all.

Our issue concludes with an extended Forum essay that charts the recent change in the Catechism regarding the Catholic church’s position on the death penalty. Presented by Michael Seewald the essay analyses the Catholic Church’s position on the death penalty in its historical and theological dimensions.  Moreover he highlights how Pope Francis’ position represents a doctrinal innovation and concludes with a searching and provocative question about how this theological and doctrinal innovation on the death penalty coheres with the self-image of the magisterium of the Catholic church.  


Editorial: Global Development in an Increasingly Urbanised World

1. L’umanità in movimento

2. Riflessioni teologiche sull’urbanizzazione e le sue sfide

3. Riflessioni etiche sull’urbanizzazione e le sue sfide

4. La prassi della creazione di spazi umani

Forum teologico


Dirk Messner – « The Century of Cities – Pathways Towards Sustainability ». The 21st century will be the century of the cities. Urban areas are becoming the central organizational form for almost all human societies. The global urban population could increase from just under 4 billion today to 7.5 billion people by 2050 – and urban infrastructures will grow with it. About two-thirds of humanity will then have their homes in cities. The force of the urbanization surge will primarily affect developing countries and emerging economies in Asia and Africa. Almost 90% of urban-population growth up to 2050 is expected on these two continents (UN DESA, 2014). Nearly three quarters of the global urban population will then be living there (UN DESA, 2015). Climate change goals and the implementations of the 2030 Agenda can only be achieved based on fundamentally changed urban perspectives and strategies. 

Martin Ebner – « Christen als Unruhestifter in der Stadt: Experimente und Visionen des Anfangs. Vom Nutzen des Christusglaubens für die Gestaltung von Gesellschaft ». Die Formation dessen, was wir heute „Christentum“ nennen, ist in den großen Städten des Imperium Romanum geschehen. Auf dieser Folie betrachtet kommen die eigentlichen Besonderheiten des Anfangs zu Vorschein. Sie werden anhand der paulinischen Briefe und der Architektur der Gottesstadt in Offb 21f. beleuchtet.

Margit Eckholt – « Gastfreundschaft leben lernen. Theologische Fundamente der Verkündigung des Glaubens in der kulturellen Pluralität der Großstädte ». Für Papst Franziskus stellt die „pastorale Umkehr“ ein zentrales Motiv der „Pastoral urbana“ dar: Referenz für die Verkündigung des Glaubens sind die Großstädte selbst und die in ihnen ablaufenden sozialen, kulturellen und religiösen Transformationsprozesse. Ein theologischer Schlüsselbegriff der „Pastoral urbana“ ist hier die „Gastfreundschaft“. 

Felix Wilfred – « Transforming Our Cities. Public Role of Faith and Theology ». Having engaged themselves for long with time and history, faith and theology are invited today to reflect on space and geography.  City space presents ambiguity: On the one hand,  it provides an ambience of freedom and opportunity for cultivation of talents; on the other hand it is a haven for the poor and the displaced. Neoliberal economy has turned the city space into an arena of competition in which the poor are the losers, as they experience many negations.  Their  cry is not heard, nor their participation enlisted, even as city spaces are planned for them through technocratic management. The problems of the poor, the migrants and refugees are far from being solved basically due to persisting xenophobia and for lack of deeper humanistic vision. Hence the challenge for theology is to contribute with the help of other disciplines to an alternative vision of life in the city space embodying  the dreams and aspirations of  the poor and downtrodden and to foster dignified human existence and co-existence for all  through solidarity, care and compassion. With our cities turning increasingly multicultural, and pluri-religious, theology is further challenged to come out with refreshing perspectives on pluralism and coexistence in contemporary situation, moving beyond social contract as the basis of societal constitution. Non-state actors and faith-inspired voluntary groups could be catalysts with whom faith and theology could interact to make common cause  for the shaping of  cities of the future as humane communities and ecologically sound habitat. For theologians to engage with such ideals for future cities would be a vocation to become public intellectuals, seasoned by faith and echoing the Good News to the Poor. 

Michelle Becka – « Die Stadt in globaler Verantwortung – sozialethische Überlegungen von Deutschland her ». (Groß-)Städte in Europa und insbesondere in Deutschland sind mit verschiedenen sozialen und ökologischen Herausforderungen konfrontiert.  Während jedoch die sozialen Probleme vor Ort unmittelbar erkennbar sind und sich etwa in Gentrifizierung oder sozialer Segregation äußern, zeigen sich ökologische Probleme, die mit Ressourcenverbrauch und CO2-Ausstoß verbunden sind, weniger hier, sondern in anderen Teilen der Welt. Der Beitrag plädiert dafür, soziale und ökologische Fragen nicht zu trennen und stellt die Verschränkung von lokaler und globaler Verantwortung ins Zentrum. Städte spielen in der Wahrnehmung dieser doppelten Verantwortung eine besondere Rolle, wie  exemplarisch an Fragen der Klimagerechtigkeit, der gesellschaftlichen Integration und an Städtenetzwerken aufgezeigt wird.

Daniel Franklin Pilario – « Faith and Religion in Globalized Megacities. A View from Manila ». Against secularization theory and its variants, religions abound in cities not only in our globalized postmodern times but as they have always been. The fluid networks of cultures provide a fertile backdrop for their proliferation and flourishing. Two observations about religion in the megacity Manila: first, the everyday religious practice of grassroots communities, mostly dubbed by outsiders as popular religiosity, to our assessment is the natural expression of all religions in contact with others. Second, the institutional Church becomes an ambivalent force in this context: on the one hand, it provides an alternative system to what the oppressive political and global economic structures neglect; on the other hand, it still needs to open itself more to contending and plural social forces characteristic of urban cosmopolitan cultures.

Linda Hogan – « Globalisation, Urbanisation, and the Common Good ». Globalisation has changed the nature of contemporary economic and political life and has created new ethical challenges. In this context the exponential growth of cities and the trajectory of urbanisation not only creates new social, political and economic challenges, but it also magnifies the difficulties associated with creating just, inclusive and equitable political and economic structures.  The fact of urbanisation raises, in an acute way, the question of how to live well in the midst of intense diversity.  Thus, the question of how cities can contribute to managing pluralism, while also promoting social cohesion, is a crucial one for contemporary society.  Building a life in common is a vital task, and must be grounded in the integrity of cultures, traditions and life-worlds.

Stephan de Beer – « Liberating Urban Development and the South African Church: A Critical Reflection in Conversation with David Korten and Gustavo Gutierrez ». In this article I reflect on (post)apartheid cities, from the perspective of spatial (re)segregation, homelessness and precarious housing. I submit that the Church will find herself increasingly isolated from the growing discontent of the urban marginalized, unless it embraces all four generations of development, as outlined by David Korten, whilst rooting herself in a deep commitment to integral liberation, as defined by Gustavo Gutierrez. I conclude by discerning and suggesting seven urgent imperatives for theological action.  

Georg Stoll – « The Contribution of Civil Society Organisations to Transformation. Consequences for the Work of NGOs – Misereor ». Globale Trends beim Bevölkerungswachstum, bei der Entwicklung von Technik und Wirtschaft und bei der Umweltbelastung machen tief greifende Veränderungen in den kommenden Jahrzehnten wahrscheinlich. Die „Menschheit“, das virtuelle Gesamtkollektiv aller Menschen, steht deshalb vor der immensen und in dieser Form neuartigen Aufgabe, Wege zu finden, die anstehenden Veränderungen „human“ zu gestalten – ohne im Vorhinein bereits über ein gemeinsames Verständnis von Humanität zu verfügen. Bei dieser humanen Transformation spielen Städte eine besondere Rolle sowohl als Brennpunkte der globalen Trends wie auch als Transformationsakteure. Denn sie verfügen über große Potenziale für eine aktive Gestaltung der anstehenden Veränderungen. Nichtregierungsorganisationen wie Misereor müssen sich der Herausforderung stellen, ihren Ort, ihre Vorgehensweisen und ihre Strukturen angesichts der sich ändernden Konstellationen zu überdenken.

Lorena Zaráte – « Living with Dignity and Peace – Social Mobilization for Housing Rights and the Right to the City ». For more than forty years, Habitat International Coalition members have been mobilizing around the world to defend and guarantee ever person’s right to a safe place to live with dignity and peace. Our two-legged strategy seeks to strengthen the social actors and processes, while it aims to influence medium and long-term changes through advocacy efforts in public policy, legal framework and international agendas.From its origins, our Coalition has been aware of the relevance of coordinating local and national actions with regional and global presence to advance social justice, gender equality and environmental sustainability working with a broad range of actors and institutions.

Marco Kusumawijaya – « The Third Paradise ». The future sustainable planet will consist of “the third Paradises.” They would be neither the original hegemonic nature, the first Paradise that was Eden that were inhabited by innocent Adam and Eve, nor the second Paradise that was the ideal city inhabited by men and God(s) in union, where nothing is natural anymore and everything is transcendental. The third Paradise will be based on a reconstructed relationship between Homo sapiens and nature. It will be a reunited city-region.  In each of them will live communities of the third kind which is neither traditional nor modern. They will be communities that are critical to the state, the market and desire.

Luiz Kohara – « Periferia no centro ». As populações que vivem nas regiões periféricas da cidade  de São Paulo, a mais rica do país, sofrem das desigualdades econômicas, sociais e territoriais da cidade, na qual são penalizadas pela falta de serviços públicos adequados, de educação, saúde, assistência social, lazer, cultura e transporte público, vivendo em condição de exilio na própria cidade. As famílias pobres buscam morar nas áreas centrais, onde há melhor infraestrutura urbana e alternativas de trabalho, no entanto, encontram moradias nos cortiços de extrema precariedade a custos altíssimos. O Centro Gaspar Garcia de Direitos Humanos desde 1988 luta pelos direitos desta população excluída e conseguiu a melhoria das condições de vida para as famílias marginalizadas através da garantia do direito da posse da moradia e através da inserção social.

Michael Seewald – « Todesstrafe, Kirchenlehre und Dogmenentwicklung. Überlegungen zur von Papst Franziskus vorgenommenen Änderung des Katechismus ». Ausgehend von der durch Papst Franziskus vorgenommenen Änderung des Katechismus, der zufolge die Todesstrafe nun moraltheologisch in jedem Fall unzulässig sei, unterzieht der Aufsatz das Verhältnis der katholischen Kirche zur Todesstrafe einer systematischen Analyse. Zunächst wird skizziert, wie komplex das Problem der Todesstrafe in der Vielfalt christlicher Traditionen behandelt wurde. Danach gerät das von Papst Franziskus in Anspruch genommene Argument, die Todesstrafe widerspreche der „Würde der Person“ in den Blick, bevor abschließend gefragt wird, wie nahtlos oder bruchhaft sich die päpstliche Entscheidung in das Selbstbild des Lehramtes der katholischen Kirche einfügt.