Mercy and the Failure to Form Moral Imagination

By Nichole M. Flores and Mary Jo Iozzio

Confronted by a classmate’s concern over the possibility of contemporary totalitarian regimes using genocide as a tool of political control, another student commented, “I don’t think genocide is a realistic possibility today.” Contrary to the ongoing destruction of whole cities in Syria, for example –from infrastructure to housing and schools and hospitals and cultural artifacts and to life—the student argued that social media makes suffering and violence visible, thus reducing the possibility of the systematic killing of an entire population of people. Ah, the innocence of college privilege to think public shame via social media would generate social solidarity.

The comment reveals the assumptions of a naïve hope that by exposing regime-responsible suffering and violence social media is sufficient to garner international condemnation and swift cessation of hostilities. It is true that social media now plays a crucial role in publicizing news from around the globe with near instant speed. However, while social media –in commentary and images—can inspire a surge of sympathy, it fails to sustain compassion or prompt material support for those in the midst of a conflict with roots in the dynamics of colonialism as well as the fall of the Ottoman Empire within the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere.

Read more on the CTEWC Forum.


UVA Professor Examines Injustices Through a Catholic Lens

An interest in government, a passion for social justice and a deeply rooted understanding of the teachings of the Catholic Church: these puzzle pieces eventually fit together to land assistant professor Nichole Flores at the University of Virginia.

“My work is concerned with religion and the common good and religion in public life,” Flores, who teaches courses in religious studies, said. “I felt it would be a really neat opportunity to speak about the contributions of Catholic thinking and Catholic social thought within the rigorous and exciting public context of UVA.”

Read more at UVA Today.

Why Us? Why Now? – Public Scholars Project

Dr. Flores was the featured speaker for a webinar discussion about the various ways scholars of religion use media to communicate to the public about religious studies. In this episode, participants consider the opportunities, responsibilities, and challenges of being a “public scholar” at different stages and locations in one’s career.

This event was organized by The Religious Freedom Center and members of the American Academy of Religion’s Committee on the Public Understanding of Religion.

Read more from The Religious Freedom Center.

A case for a globally-engaged perspective: A US Latina Perspective on Bogotá

As a part of the planning for the Congreso Latinoamericano de Ética Teológica, convened at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia this past May, coordinator MT Davila (Puerto Rico), stressed the importance of including US Latina/o theological ethicists as participants in the conversation. Congreso organizers included US Latina/o ethicists from a range of ethnic backgrounds (Cuban, Puerto Rican, Mexican) and regional contexts within the US in an effort to enrich this first Congreso with a breadth of US Latina/o perspectives. I was humbled to be among those asked to participate and to present to our Latin American colleagues my work on human trafficking and aesthetic solidarity. I was troubled, however, by what my participation in the Congreso revealed about the state of theological ethics in the United States: that our discourse, even as it claims “global” engagement, remains largely disconnected from Latin America and other “global south” contexts. Our claims to global engagement rest on developing efforts that would cultivate sustained and meaningful interaction manifest in our local ethical conversations.

Read more at CTEWC Forum.

Polarization in the US Catholic Church: Naming the Wounds, Beginning to Heal

Dr. Flores’ essay “When Discourse Breaks Down: Race and Aesthetic Solidarity in the US Catholic Church” was published in Polarization in the Catholic Church: Naming the Wounds, Beginning to Heal. In naming ecclesial wounds and exploring their social and religious underpinnings, the essays in this volume underscore how shared beliefs and aspirations can help heal deep fissures.

Read more at Liturgical Press.

Q&A: The Social Impact of Pope Francis’ Commission on Female Deacons

Last week, Pope Francis announced a new commission that could pave the way for women to serve as deacons in the Roman Catholic Church, which currently mandates an all-male clergy.

For University of Virginia Assistant Religious Studies Professor Nichole Flores, the announcement was an exciting step in ongoing debates about female leadership in the Catholic Church, which she has followed closely as both a theologian and a Catholic woman.

Read More at UVA Today.