Christina McRorie joins faculty of School of Theology and Ministry

The associate professor of moral theology draws from the Christian tradition, political economy, and economics to consider questions of moral agency and obligation in markets

Economic justice has always been an area of interest for Christina McRorie, who recently joined the School of Theology and Ministry as an associate professor of moral theology. Her research, at the intersection of Catholic moral theology and Catholic social thought, considers questions of moral agency and obligation in markets.

“The traditional concern of Catholic social thought is justice, and the traditional concern of moral theology is the person before God—questions of sin, grace, and virtue,” said McRorie. “I combine those two sides of a coin in my work on moral agency and markets.”

In this, McRorie aims to go deeper than the question of justice and who is owed what.

“My work also theologically considers what it means to experience the different kinds of pushes and pulls that markets exert on us and on our character, she said." I reflect on that not just in terms of virtue and vice, but also spirituality.”

She examines what it means to be a person before God in the marketplace. “I look at the question of how we are formed, and who do different kinds of market settings and configurations encourage us to be? How do specific contexts support—or get in the way of—our response to God’s grace in our lives and our call to experience union with God?”

McRorie earned a bachelor of arts degree from Pepperdine University, a master of arts in religion from Yale Divinity School, and doctorate in religious studies from the University of Virginia.

A native of Anchorage, Alaska, McRorie comes to the STM after seven years on the faculty at Creighton University. “We live in a time of polarization and cynicism, and a certain amount of fear, even in the theological academy,” she said. “One of the things I love about Jesuit institutions is that they tend to encourage a hopeful way of engaging the world.”

“I’m really delighted to walk alongside students as they develop their theological voices and sharpen their sense of where to use their gifts to make the world a better place. My job is to fan the flame of the callings that led them to the STM in the first place."

This semester at the STM McRorie is teaching two courses: Theological Ethics and Global Development and Gender, Race and Theological Ethics. In the spring, she will teach Ethics and Spirituality and Theological Ethics and the Economy.

“I love being at the STM and supporting its mission to train graduate students for lives of service and leadership inside the Church and out,” said McRorie. “I’m really delighted to walk alongside students as they develop their theological voices and sharpen their sense of where to use their gifts to make the world a better place. My job is to fan the flame of the callings that led them to the STM in the first place.

“One of the other things that drew me to the STM is that it’s a place that roots theological inquiry in the shared practice of faith. I get the sense that theology here is very much a team sport and there is a strong sense of community that I find really exciting” she said.

The global nature of the STM community also appealed to McRorie. “I'm especially thrilled to be at a place that is so intentional about reflecting the diversity of God's people.”

McRorie is a member of the Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church network and the Catholic Theological Society of America. She serves on the board of the Society of Christian Ethics and on the editorial boards of the Journal of Moral Theology and the Journal of Catholic Social Thought.

She also has experience in a number of interdisciplinary settings that bring theologians and other scholars into conversation. She is an affiliate fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia and a member of the Economics Research Hub, funded by the Kirby Laing Centre for Public Theology in Cambridge, England. Through the Research Hub, McRorie gathers regularly with other theologians and economists to generate rigorous scholarship at the intersection of these fields that is both theoretical and practical.

For the last three years McRorie was a research fellow on the Collaborative Inquiries in Christian Theological Anthropology project, funded by the John Templeton Foundation. The goal was to raise the scientific competency of theologians and ethicists working with both social sciences and hard sciences. Boston College Professor of Theology Stephen Pope served as McRorie’s theology research mentor.

McRorie’s grant-funded project was a monograph still in progress, that develops the ambiguous category of “the world” in Christian thought, and uses this category to examine contemporary markets as contexts for moral agency. This work has led her to engage with economics on the kinds of behavior that different market settings encourage, and to reflect on the theological and spiritual significance of this contextual interaction with individuals’ agency.

“A lot of my work engages economic theory as well, and in particular economic ways of representing markets, because I think these can be fruitful for theological thinking, but also problematic in how they suggest we see ourselves and the world around us” she said.

Joining STM is a bit of a homecoming for McRorie who met her husband, Matthew Lewis, when they both worked in Boston 15 years ago. Back then, McRorie worked as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, offering financial services such as tax preparation to low-income residents through community centers in Roxbury and South Boston. Lewis, who now is an attorney with the Office of Chief Counsel for the IRS, was engaged in the same work. The couple are parents to two daughters. “It’s been wonderful to come back to a place where we have so many happy memories” McRorie said.