Introducing Dr. Nichole M. Flores!

Prof. Flores defends her dissertationProf. Flores successfully defended her dissertation entitled “Guadalupe in the Public Square: Religious Aesthetics and the Pursuit of Justice” at Boston College on Friday, July 17, 2015. This milestone marks the culmination of her doctoral candidacy at Boston College and inaugurates her new role as Assistant Professor in Religious Studies at the University of Virginia starting in August.

Prof. Flores Awarded Catherine Mowry LaCugna Award for Best Essay in Academic Theology

Prof. Flores wins Theology AwardProf. Flores was awarded the Catherine Mowry LaCugna Award on June 12, 2015 at the Annual Convention of the Catholic Theological Society of America. The CTSA grants the Catherine Mowry LaCugna Award to new scholars for the best academic essay in the field of theology within the Roman Catholic tradition. Prof. Flores was recognized for her essay, “Beyond Consumptive Solidarity: An Aesthetic Response to Modern Day Slavery.”

Prof. Flores Responds to Bishop Oscar Cantu of San Antonio on Immigration and Suffering

Image of panel on immigration and suffering at meeting of Hispanic theologians

From left to right: Bishop Cantu, Prof. Flores, Fr. Figueroa Deck, and Prof. Carmona

Prof. Flores, along with Prof. Victor Carmona of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, TX, responded to a presentation on Immigration and suffering by Bishop Oscar Cantu on Monday, June 8, 2015. The panel was moderated by Fr. Allan Figueroa Deck, S.J. of Loyola Marymount University. This conversation between theologians and a bishop, which touched on themes of mercy, justice, culture, race, law, and popular religion, was the first of its kind at the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS) annual colloquia.

Prof. Flores honored with Building Bridges Circle of Change Award

Prof. Flores was honored as the Alumna recipient of the Building Bridges Circle of Change Award on Friday, April 17 at the Seawell Grand Ballroom of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Upon acceptance of the honor, she gave a talk entitled, “Mindfulness and Voice,” in which she celebrated the Building Bridges tradition of silent retreat as a practice in support of social change. Fellow honorees included social justice advocate Harold Fields and performing arts organization Magic Moments.

The annual Circles of Change event honors individuals who make a positive difference in the world. The accomplishments of these individuals aim to inspire transformation of hate, discrimination, and violent conflict. Building Bridges hopes to motivate community members through demonstrating that positive change is possible, that the courageous acts of one expand into circles of change.

#ReclaimMLK and the Aesthetics of Appropriation

Yesterday’s national observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s holiday—arriving in the wake of the violent death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and a series of similar incidents—elicited a stream of posts and hashtags criticizing sanitized depictions of MLK’s legacy. This annual commemoration induces moral discomfort as it seems to invite facile interpretations of MLK’s person, legacy, theology, and politics.

Read more at Catholic Moral Theology.

James Foley and Catholic Education

Like so many others, I was stunned and saddened by the news of James Foley, Marquette University ‘94, who was apparently beheaded by ISIS insurgents as retribution for US airstrikes in Iraq against the group. I did not know James Foley personally, but as a Catholic educator, I feel like I know a lot of students like him: smart, idealistic, committed, and brave. In his story, I see the stories of so many of my students. The gravity of his life and untimely death offers occasion to think about the values that make uncommon virtue so common among students like James Foley. In short, what is it about Catholic education that prepares students to pay the cost of discipleship?

Read more on Catholic Moral Theology and Millennial Journal.

Political Emotion, Religion, and the Pursuit of Justice

July 2, 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s signing of the Civil Rights Act. Political emotion emanating from the religious particularity of the African American Civil Rights movement was a key factor in forging this landmark legislation. This milestone approaches at a time when sibling civil rights victories (e.g., Brown v. the Board of Education 1954 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965) suffer from diminished public and legal support.  With the fragility of civil rights, the U.S. faces also renewed debates about the rights to religious freedom and the role of religion in public life. This uncertain legal and political landscape threatens to destabilize political society by allowing discrimination, segregation, and other inequalities to seep further into the basic political structure of the United States.  In the midst of these political currents, how ought Catholic moral theology respond to the erosion of civil rights protections?

Read more on CTEWC Forum.

Essay Featured in “Feminist Catholic Ethics: Conversations in the World Church” (Orbis 2014)

Prof. Flores’s essay, “The Personal Is Political: Toward a Vision of Justice in Latina Theology,” is included in Feminist Catholic Theological Ethics: Conversation in the World Church (Orbis 2014), edited by Linda Hogan and Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator. The volume includes essays from Agnes M. Brazal, Lilian Dube, James F. Keenan, Maria Clara Lucchetti Bingemer, and Anne Patrick, among many others.

“This volume is an astonishing contribution to Christian and Catholic theological ethics. The essays are elegant, insightful, and moving. The feminist perspectives they portray are varied in terms of issues addressed, methods used, and genuine diversity of voices from across the world. The book will be of immense value for courses in theology and ethics world-wide, but also more generally for educated readers in multiple contexts. I predict that it will generate profound insight and enthusiasm for expanding the horizons of our theologies, and deepening our efforts at “faith seeking understanding.”

-Margaret A. Farley, Gilbert L. Stark Professor Emerita of Christian Ethics, Yale University Divinity School

View the order form here.

Synod of Bishops on the Family: Critical Questions from the US

Pope Francis, in the inaugural year of his papacy, captured the imagination of Catholics and non-Catholics alike with his nuanced and pastoral discussions of contested issues from the frontlines of the culture wars.  In July, Francis surprised journalists with his post-World Youth Day remarks revealing a person-centered approach on many of those issues as well as call for a “deeper theology of women.”  In September, he elaborated on these points over a series of interviews with Antonio Spardo, S.J. and published in La Civilta Cattolica. We read Francis questioning an obsessive focus of the Church’s social and moral energy on, for example, issues of sexual morality. Such questioning, however, does not ignore the Church’s moral instruction and concern for those on the bottom rung of the global economy or the Church’s pro-life position when Francis identified abortion with a “throwaway culture” fueling consumerism and exploitation. Having reignited broad interest in family ethics through these remarks, Pope Francis made news again with the announcement that he will convene the world’s Catholic bishops to address family life issues.  Consisting of two meetings in 2014 and 2015, the Synod of Bishops will discern first the complex landscape of Christian family life in the 21st century and then, in light of their findings, develop working guidelines for pastoral care of the person and family.

Read more on CTEWC Forum.

The Invisible Woman: Seeing Migrant Women Through the Eyes of Christ

Sexual harassment is an epidemic in the fields of the food we eat. On June 25, PBS and Univision debuted a documentary in the series “Frontline” entitled “Rape in the Fields.” This report exposed the hidden reality of sexual abuse of women who supply American tables with apples, almonds, lettuce and eggs—untold numbers of women and girls subject to sexual abuse and rape by their male bosses and co-workers.

Since harassment is commonplace and takes place in the isolation of the vast agricultural fields, migrant women often refer to camps as the “fields of panties” or the “green motel.” Rendered invisible in U.S. society by a broken immigration system that simultaneously demands cheap migrant labor and criminalizes undocumented persons, migrant women evade contact with the legal authorities responsible for responding to these crimes. Sexual perpetrators exploit this legal and social invisibility to take sexual advantage of them.

Read more in America Magazine.