by Gordon Nary
Gordon: What are your primary responsibilities as Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Catholic University of La Plata (UCALP)?
Luciano: Since 2017, I have been lecturing some theological and philosophical subjects in several faculties at the Universidad Católica de La Plata (UCALP), placed in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Regarding the theological courses, I am focused on Christology (Theology II), Ecclesiology and Eschatology (Theology III), and Social Doctrine of the Church (Theology IV). In matter of philosophy, the courses verse on General and Economic Ethics, Philosophical Anthropology, and Introduction to Philosophy -an introductory course to the history of philosophy from ancient times to our days-.
Gordon: Please share with our readers an overview of your Master;s Degree thesis on Bilateral relations between Argentina and the Holy See during the period 2003-2015
Luciano: The Master’s Degree thesis addressed the bilateral relationships between Argentina and the Holy See during the period 2003-2015. This research was developed from the theoretical perspective of social constructivism (e.g. Wendt) and the double level game-board approach (e.g. Putnam) with the aim of identifying and analyzing the main elements which constituted their diplomatic relationships over that period. In December 2001, Argentina went through a very complex socio-political and socio-economic process which left 50% of people in poverty and with a list of Presidents assuming the executive power just for some hours or for a few days. After some political negotiations, the National Congress consecrated then-senator Eduardo Duhalde as interim President. His period ended in 2003 after the democratic elections.
Specifically, the thesis begins with the last trip of former President Duhalde to the Holy See in April 2003, and with the homily of then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to the new President Nestor Kirchner on May 25th, 2003 during the official Tedeum celebrated that day. May 25th was the day elected for initiating the new presidential period because on this date Argentina celebrates the May Revolution occurred in 1810, which historically is considered the first relevant event in Argentina’s independence process from the Kingdom of Spain.
The thesis study the relationships developed over the dyad: Nestor Kirchner-John Paul II (2003-2005), Nestor Kirchner – Benedict XVI (2005-2007), Cristina Fernández – Benedict XVI (2007-2013), Cristina Fernández – Francis (2013-2015). The last dyad was particular interesting to me considering the particularity of having an Argentinean Pope.
The thesis concludes that the relationships between Argentina and the Holy See, despite some diplomatic tensions during the periods 2005-2013, were of friendship, which means, of dialogue and cooperation.
Now, I am starting a Ph.D. Programme at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam to deepen the relationships between the United Nations and Global Multireligious Platforms (Religions for Peace, KAICIID, United Religions Initiative, etc) seeking to determine the level of sustainable development impact of their common projects at the grassroots, regional, and global levels.
Gordon: What were your responsibilities as Religions for Peace Latin America and the Caribbean Liaison Associate?
Luciano: I had the opportunity to participate as a volunteer/intern at Religions for Peace International as a Liaison agent between the main headquarter placed in New York, and the Latin American regional office in Peru.
As Liaison Associate, I assisted the Deputy Secretary-General (DSG - New York) of Religions for Peace International (RfP-DSG), and the Regional Secretary General/Regional Director of Religions for Peace Latin America and the Caribbean (RD-LAC), in communications, outreach, and the development of Religions for Peace Inter-religious Councils in Latin America and the Caribbean.
To that end, as Liaison Associate, I collected, drafted, and disseminated stories of interreligious engagement -including those by RfP members around the Covid-19 pandemic-; provided research (from media and primary sources) on religious dynamics in the region; supported the Regional SG/Director in communications between RfP affiliates in Latin America and the Caribbean; assisted in organizing RfP’s international and regional events, meetings and conferences (including technical and logistical support); provided other relevant assistance to the Regional SG/Director’s and Deputy Secretary-General of RfP International offices as required and mutually agreed (to include communications, scheduling, correspondences, Spanish translation, etc.).
During that volunteering/internship experience, I managed to build a broad panorama of local, regional, and global FBOs, NGOs, CBOs, as well as of the work done by Government Representatives (Ambassadors, Ministries, etc) and Multilateral Organizations concerning interreligious dialogue in Argentina, Austria, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Germany, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, Netherlands, Peru, Spain, and Trinity & Tobago.
Gordon: What were responsibilities as Research consultant: KAICIID’s Peace Mapping Project?
Luciano: During November 2020 and March 2021, I developed deep research for identifying and characterizing all the Interreligious Dialogue groups working in Argentina. The project was funded by KAICIID, and I was contacted by Professor Joan Hernández Serret (ISCREB, Barcelona) to be part of the Iberoamerican phase of KAICIID’s peace-map updating process.
Argentina has a particularity regarding this topic (probably relating to its social and demographic history consistent in European immigration). The country counts with more than 20 well-established interreligious tables, groups, commissions working in the arena of interreligious dialogue.
Gordon: What are your responsibilities as Associate Member of the Think Tank “Estela Sur” (Latin American regional integration and disintegration process)?
Luciano: I am part of the geopolitics and international relations study commission. As part of this team of young professionals, I have developed some researches on the Holy See actions during the COVID-19 pandemic, and now I am writing a trilogy of papers as regards a political theory, rooted in the Inculturated Philosophy (a branch of the Latin American Philosophy of Liberation), that could be useful to overcome the problematic social, economic and political polarization which crosses throughout the region from north to south, from west to east.
Gordon: What impact has the Covid-19 pandemic has upon the Catholic Faith in Argentina?
Luciano: During the strict lockdown/quarantine which was stated by the national government in March 2020, all the temples were closed for months. As in every part of the world, the priests were unable to satisfy the needs of God’s people. Despite the turbulence the virus provoked throughout the world, and especially in Argentina with an approx. 40 % of poverty, it is relevant to mention an interreligious initiative (Seamos Uno) jointly organized by Caritas, ACIERA, AMIA, the Jesuits, NGOs, and business companies for supporting the poorest people across the country. Thank God, now the Churches are working as usual with the requirements corresponding to the COVID-19 era.
Gordon: What, in your opinion, is the responsibility of wealthier nations to provide free Covid-1-vaccines to poorer nations?
Luciano: This is an ethical obligation! How can it be possible that some countries have reached more than 50 % of their population vaccinated while others only to 15/20%? Is that fair? Considering the 6 principles constituting the pillars of the Social Doctrine of the Church, human dignity, the principle of the common good, the universal destination of goods, the principle of subsidiarity, the principle of participation, and the principle of solidarity (structurally talking), there is no chance of thinking anything different. Remember that the ethical sphere is not something we can avoid engaging with without dehumanizing ourselves as persons and societies.
Gordon: Thank you for an incisive and beautiful interview.