Mary John Manazan OSB, a Benedictine sister working in the Philippines, once urged a large crowd to oppose a hike in the price of oil. A policeman approached her. “Why are you talking about the oil price hike? You are a Sister. You ought to take care of the souls of the people. Why don’t you talk about mortal sin, purgatory, hell?” In his paper on ‘Spirituality and social justice’ at the inaugural conference of the new British Association for the Study of Spirituality (BASS), Michael O’Sullivan SJ (at left in photo) saw Sr Mary John’s experience as emblematic of a tradition in Christian spirituality which disables commitment when social justice is needed. He then presented grounds for conceiving a commitment to social justice in terms of meanings and values that are integral to Christian spirituality. Read below for a report on the conference.
Report on Inaugural BASS conference
The newly created British Association for the Study of Spirituality (BASS) held its inaugural international conference in Windsor, England, from 4th – 6th May. The conference explored the relevance of spirituality for the socio-economic, political and cultural challenges in contemporary society. Dr Michael O’Sullivan delivered a paper at the conference on ‘Spirituality and Social Justice’ and chaired an international panel on ‘Spirituality, Psychology and Counselling’. Some of the leading international figures in the field of spirituality studies research, namely, Linda Woodhead, Harold Koenig, Rebecca Nye, Bob Neimeyer, and Ursula King delivered papers. Dr Eunice Minford, a surgeon, and graduate of the MA in Applied Christian Spirituality at Milltown Institute, of which Michael is the Director, also delivered a paper, on “The Soulful Foundations of Healing.” Professor Bernadette Flanagan, a former Acting President of Milltown Institute, chaired an international panel on ‘Spirituality and Social Work’.
The creation of BASS is a further and very important manifestation of a worldwide trend concerning the emergence and development of spirituality as a new academic discipline. BASS aims to promote the study of the interfacing of spirituality and fields of human life like social care, health care, counselling, and business studies.