All posts by Nichole M. Flores

Instructor of Moral Theology at Saint Anselm College

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.

Nichole Flores in America: Seeing migrant women through the eyes of Christ

Originally posted on Millennial:

Millennial writer Nichole Flores has a new article in America that addresses the issue of sexual violence in the agriculture industry, along with other threats to human dignity and rights:

“The rape of migrant women is but one violation of workers’ rights and human dignity common in U.S. agricultural fields. Undocumented women and men are subject to human trafficking and modern day slavery, wage theft, exposure to hazardous pesticides, family separation and other violations of economic, human and legal rights.”

The full article can be read here.

View original

Government shutdown is a big deal for needy women and children

In the wake of the first government shutdown in nearly two decades, pundits clamor to provide commentary on both the causes and effects of the failure to pass a budget, funding nonessential government functions.  Some argue that the shutdown is unremarkable; it has happened before and its effects are limited.  As Sean Hannity claims, “We have had 17 government shutdowns…I am not afraid of a couple of weeks of the government being shut down.”

Yet, as Brad Plummer illustrates on the Washington Post Wonkblog, the hiatus of so-called nonessential government offices will affect the lives of American citizens more profoundly than Hannity’s remark portrays.  Effects range from the mundane to the inconvenient: the suspension of the Panda Cam broadcast at the National Zoo, the blockade of national parks and monuments, and the closure of the U.S. Copyright Office until the end of the standoff.

Some Americans will experience the shutdown more acutely than others, especially government employees who will go without pay, veterans and disabled persons who will go without benefits, and cancer patients who will be denied access to critical services from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Still, there are some for whom the shutdown will have an almost immediate and deleterious effect: poor families and children.

Read More on Washington Post OnFaith.

The Discipline of Dialogue: Finding Faith in Difference

This post is part of a series on the Faith of Theologians on Catholic Moral Theology. A full list of the previous responses can be found at the bottom of Dana Dillon’s post introducing the series.

Two young women, Tamar* and Reema*, sit in folding chairs facing each other.  Tamar speaks to Reema, carefully gesticulating as she expresses each thought.  Reema listens intently, her brow furrowed and her arms folded across her chest.  She gives an occasional nod to reassure Tamar that she is listening.  As Tamar finishes her thought, Reema says, “Let me see if I heard you correctly.” Then carefully, deliberately, Reema repeats what she just heard, attempting to accurately render Tamar’s statement.  When she finishes her summary, Reema asks, “Did I understand you?”  Tamar scrunches her nose and shakes her head tightly from side to side.  Tamar repeats her statement, this time using slightly different language and attempting to add some nuance to her idea.  Again, Reema repeats Tamar’s statement.  She finishes her summary, lifting her eyebrows and cocking her head in Tamar’s direction.  Tamar says, “Yes, that is what I said.”  The women heave long sighs as a thoughtful pause passes between them.  Their roles now reverse; it is Reema’s turn to speak and Tamar’s turn to listen.

Read more on Catholic Moral Theology.

March on Washington Anniversary: Fannie Lou Hamer and the New Evangelization

This week, thousands gather in Washington D.C. to commemorate the March on Washington 50th Anniversary (#MOW50). While many associate the march with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, this event was a product of a broader justice movement executed by a large network of civil rights activists, including Bayard RustinElla BakerSeptima Clark and a litany of veterans of hope.  Their combined efforts yielded significant legal, political, and cultural changes that represent a monumental democratic achievement.

This anniversary arrives at a crucial moment in U.S. national life.  The fact that a black person is POTUS on this 50th anniversary seems miraculous to those who remember pre-civil rights America or lived in the shadows of persistent racial discrimination in subsequent decades.  Still, racial conflicts surrounding Trayvon Martin’s death and George Zimmerman’s acquittal dominated U.S. headlines this summer. The SCOTUS decision to overturn key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 illustrated the tenuous nature of civil right’s most important achievements.  These conflicts exposed profound racial disagreements and prompted vitriolic exchanges between opponents. MOW50, against this backdrop, serves as both a rousing celebration of victories already won and a sobering reminder that racial justice is still a work in progress.

Read more on Catholic Moral Theology.

Institutional Religious Freedom: Broadening the Scope

The 2011 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) contraceptive mandate has garnered ample media attention as a polarizing issue among U.S. Catholics and the general public. A rhetorical icon for the religious liberty debate, contraception orients discourse about religious freedom to personal practices, political opinions, and religious beliefs. A vital issue for many people–especially for women, who are profoundly affected by reproductive choice and public health policies–a narrow-minded focus on contraception limits both moral discernment and political imagination regarding religious liberty. Broadening the scope of the current conversation, I offer the following reflections on religious liberty and immigration law.

Read more on Millennial Journal.


Race and Polarization in the U.S. Church and Public Life

In a recent CNN op-ed, LZ Granderson argues that both major U.S. political parties are complicit in perpetuating racially-based political polarization in the United States by employing rhetoric that fails to appeal across racial divisions. Unfortunately, the social construction of race has infiltrated every institution in the US, including the US Catholic Church, the rhetoric only exacerbates while it ignores the systemic reach of racism. A two-party system that maintains racial division prevents the ideals of a more perfect union as it thwarts the common societal good. The politically, culturally, and racially diverse U.S. Catholic Church is in a unique position to resist divisions based on race. In order to overcome a racially divided society and to strengthen the common good, however, our Church must first acknowledge its own participation in history and this polarizing rhetoric and second incorporate racial justice more fully and explicitly into our social teachings and practices.

Read more on CTEWC Forum.