Kellogg Faculty Fellow and theologian David Lantigua has been announced as a new co-director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame beginning in June. Notre Dame historian Darren Dochuk will join him at the helm of the institution that is widely recognized as the leading center for the historical study of Roman Catholicism in the United States.
American studies and history professor Kathleen Sprows Cummings, who has led the Cushwa Center for the past 11 years, will step down from the position.
Lantigua’s research focuses on Catholicism in the colonial history of the Americas and the theology and social thought of Pope Francis, the first Hispanic pope from the global South.
Lantigua is an associate professor of theology, whose primary focus is on moral theology and Christian ethics. He specializes in late scholastic moral and political thought and its place within the broader Catholic social tradition. He has two books related to this research: a monograph on early modern Spanish theological contributions to international legal thought and the other a documentary reader with new translations of writings from Dominican friar and advocate of indigenous peoples, Bartolomé de las Casas. His work also considers the ongoing Latin American critical theological engagement with global human rights discourse.
“By anchoring the study of American Catholicism in historical and theological inquiry, I hope to preserve and strengthen the Center’s ongoing intellectual contribution to academia and the broader Church on critical issues of the past and present,” said Lantigua, who co-directs the Catholic social tradition minor and is a faculty fellow of the Institute for Latino Studies.
With Latin America as the most populous region of Catholicism in the world, and the growing demographic of US Latino Catholics, Lantigua said the optics of American Catholicism are shifting in fascinating ways. He wants to make that reality visible.
“In addition to the US Hispanic Catholic population, there are also ethnic traditions of American Catholicism among African/African American, Asian, and Indigenous American populations, and their historical presence raises acute questions surrounding pluralism, racism, and migration,” he said.
The Cushwa Center seeks to promote and encourage the scholarly study of the American Catholic tradition through instruction, research, publication, and the collection of historical materials. The center strives to deepen the understanding of Catholics’ historical role and contemporary expressions of their religious tradition in the United States. It engages a national body of scholars from disciplines including history, theology, women’s studies, sociology, American studies, religious studies, and English, and in all aspects of its mission, it seeks interdisciplinary and ecumenical cooperation.