Human Trafficking: A Lacuna in Catholic Ethics

The persistence of human trafficking, a form of modern day slavery, is a cruel irony in the United States, a nation that claims to be committed to the ideals of freedom, liberty, and equality. While accurate statistical data on trafficking is infamously difficult to obtain, the Polaris Project estimates that 20 million people are trafficked globally, with hundreds of thousands trafficked into the U.S.. The U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (P.L.106-386) and its reauthorizations (H.R.2620, 2003 and HR7311, 2008) take important steps to rectify this enslavement, but trafficking persists in the shadows of global supply chains that undergird agricultural, domestic, service, and sexual economies. Traffickers prey on the vulnerability of people on society’s margins: women and girls, migrants, and the very poor. These figures only hint at trafficking’s corrosive effect on the project of justice, equality, and freedom in the U.S. and beyond.

While trafficking persists in the global economy, Catholic ethicists have struggled to articulate cogent responses that can inform practical resistance to this blatant violation of human dignity.

Read More at Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church Forum.

Dr. Flores to Speak at Vanderbilt Divinity School on March 18

Dr. Flores will give a lecture, “‘Our Sister, Mother Earth’: Promise and Challenge in an Ecological Vision of Family” at Vanderbilt Divinity School on March 18 as part of the series, On Care for Our Common Home: Engaging Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’s Ecological Justice Encyclical. Emilie Townes and Doug Perkins will respond to her talk. The lecture series will also feature a presentation by Kevin Ahern of Manhattan College, “The Ecological Common Good and the Globalization of Indifference” on March 17. The series was curated by Dr. Bruce Morill, S.J., the Edward A. Malloy Chair of Catholic Studies at VDS.

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Spotlight: Engaging Emotion in Pursuit of Justice

I sit, paralyzed, watching the credits roll. Suddenly hyper-aware that I am wearing my bright maroon Boston College hoodie I purchased the day of my dissertation defense, I anxiously stuff my arms into my jacket and wrap myself in the folds. For me, these gold letters are a source of pride and identification…

Disgust and shame have figured prominently in emotional responses to Spotlight. Some will argue that such emotions are at best unproductive and at worst destructive. How might Catholics and people of good will respond to these emotions in constructive ways that help us to (1) truly hear this story, especially as it emerges from victimized persons and (2) seek justice within ecclesial, legal, and educational institutions?

Read More at Catholic Moral Theology.

Dr. Flores among inaugural class of Mellon Humanities Fellows at Institute for Humanities and Global Cultures

Dr. Flores has been named as a Mellon Humanities Fellow by The Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures (IHGC). The fellowship supports work on her book manuscript, Guadalupe in the Public Square: Aesthetic Solidarity and the Pursuit of Justice, in which she examines how symbols can potentially inform the imaginative life of citizens toward shared ethical goals in an increasingly pluralistic societal context. Additionally, the fellowship supports course development for The Aesthetics of Solidarity, an undergraduate course in which students will have the opportunity to engage political and aesthetic theory in conversation with social movement leaders drawing connections between beauty and justice in public life.

Read More at UVA College of Arts & Sciences.

Dr. Flores discusses Radical Grace at Virginia Film Festival

Dr. Flores participated in the 28th Annual Virginia Film Festival, held each year in Charlottesville. Discussing the documentary film Radical Grace (2015, directed by Rebecca Parish), Dr. Flores offered theological and political context to recent controversies swirling around social justice advocacy among Catholic women religious. In response to institutional criticism that women religious promote radical feminist themes that undermine Catholic teachings, Dr. Flores elucidated competing narratives concerning concerning the Church’s role in the world:

The first narrative sees the Church as a battleground; the second sees it as a field hospital. Some observers of Catholic life have wondered if it is possible for the Church to be both. The future of the Catholic Church will be influenced by the interaction of these metaphors in U.S. Catholic life.

Beyond the political and theological controversies, however, Radical Grace illuminates their passionate faith that does justice, reminding the audience of the immeasurable contributions of women religious both in the Church and beyond:

I suspect that audience members will be moved not only by their radical commitment to serving the least of these, but by their deep joy. In the words of John’s Gospel: “I give to you a new commandment, that you love one another.” Indeed, they will know we are Christians by our love.

Please see the Radical Grace website to schedule a screening.

The GOP’s Latina/o Strategy: A Mirror for Catholic Social Ethics

Even while the 2016 presidential election is still more than a year away, pundits have begun to predict who will become the 45th President of the United States. In particular, observers are preoccupied with questions pertaining to the role Latina/o voters will play in the race. The GOP’s response to its lagging appeal among Latinas/os reveals a deeper issue pertaining to the party’s relationship with Latina/o communities: while Republicans are willing to talk about Latinoas/os, they fail to cultivate any meaningful relationships withLatinas/os that would help define a platform that responds to their critical concerns in ways that respect and protect human dignity.

Read More at Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church Forum

Introducing Dr. Nichole M. Flores!

Prof. 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.


Dr. Flores celebrates her successful dissertation defense with dissertation director Lisa Sowle Cahill (far left) and committee members Nancy Pineda-Madrid and David Hollenbach, S.J.

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 visits Notre Dame for Polarization in the Catholic Church: Naming the Wounds, Beginning to Heal

Prof. Flores participated in Polarization in the Catholic Church: Naming the Wounds, Beginning to Heal at the University of Notre Dame. The conference, organized by Mary Ellen Konieczny of Notre Dame and Charles Camosy of Fordham University, was committed to probing sensitive issues that divide Catholics in the United States. Prof. Flores presented a talk entitled, “When Discourse Breaks Down: Race and Aesthetic Solidarity,” in which she illustrated the polarizing tension created by refusal to engage issues of race and racism in Church and society before offering a theological aesthetics of solidaristic engagement as a potential response to this problem.

Prof. Flores’s talk will be published in Polarization in the Catholic Church: Naming the Wounds, Beginning to Heal, edited by Konieczny, Camosy, and Trisha C. Bruce (Forthcoming, Liturgical Press 2016)

(Prof. Flores speaks on Guadalupe and addressing polarization at 5:00)