Latino theologian Orlando Espin wins John Courtney Murray Award

This article appears in the CTSA 2016 feature series. View the full series.

San Juan, Puerto Rico — style="line-height: 20.8px;">Editor's note: NCR is reporting on the ground at this year's Catholic Theological Society of America conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Keep checking our feature series page CTSA 2016 for our coverage.

Hailed as “a pioneer and leader in the field of Latino/Latina theology,” Orlando Espin was named the recipient of this year’s John Courtney Murray Award from the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA) June 11 at the organization’s annual conference in Puerto Rico.

Espin “has played a central part in promoting the highest scholarly standards for Hispanic/Latino theology,” said CTSA Bradford Hinze, who presented the award, praising Espin as “someone who is inspired to experiment, in collaboration with others, with creating a theological culture...in which the work of theology belongs to and arises from the community.” 

Espin is professor of systematic theology at the University of San Diego, where he also founded and directs the Center for the Study of Latino/a Catholicism. He is also a founder of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS) and has twice served as its president. 

Born in Cuba, Espin earned degrees from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Florida and from the Pontifical Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

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In accepting the award at the CTSA banquet, Espin noted that he was only the second Latino to receive this highest award from the organization — and only one of a few minority scholars. “You have to get up with the times on this,” he said. 

Espin also reminded the nearly 300 theologians at the dinner to remember that the people of God are the church.

“Theologians cannot forget the faith and life and struggles of the real church,” he said. 

[Heidi Schlumpf teaches communications at Aurora University, outside Chicago.]


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