College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences > Centers & Institutes > Center for World Catholicism & Intercultural Theology > World Catholicism Week > 2024 Speakers

2024 Speakers

​​​​​​​​​​Below are our speakers' photos and bios, as well as short descriptions of their specific conference topics (these are being added as we receive them from the speakers).

Keynote Speaker

William T. Cavanaugh

Director, Center for World Catholicism & Intercultural Theology (CWCIT)
Professor, Catholic Studies
DePaul University
(Chicago, IL)

As an undergrad at the University of Notre Dame, William T. Cavanaugh changed his major from chemical engineering when, as he says, he got "hooked on theology." After graduating with a BA in theology, he went on to obtain a master's from Cambridge University in England and then spent two years working for the Church in a poor area of Santiago, Chile, under the military dictatorship. Upon returning to the U.S., he pursued a PhD from Duke University, after which he taught 15 years at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota before joining the faculty at DePaul University in 2010 as a full professor in the Department of Catholic Studies and a research professor in its Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology (CWCIT). In 2013, he became the CWCIT's director. 

His major areas of research involve the Church's encounter with social, political, and economic realities, and he is especially interested in the social implications of traditional Catholic beliefs and practices, such as the Eucharist. He has also dealt with themes of the Church's social and political presence in situations of violence and economic injustice. The author of nine books and editor/co-editor of seven more, he has been published in 17 langauges. Among his most significant books are Torture and Eucharist: Theology, Politics, and the Body of Christ (Wiley, 1998); The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict (Oxford UP, 2009); and Field Hospital: The Church's Engagement with a Wounded World (Eerdmans, 2016). His newest book, The Uses of Idolatry, will be published in January 2024 by Oxford University Press; it "offers a sustained and interdisciplinary argument that... the target of worship has changed...[and] examines modern idolatries and the ways in which humans become dominated by our own creations." 

Conference Presentation—TBA

​Roundtable Speakers


Emilce Cuda

Pontifical Commission for Latin America
(Buenos Aires; Rome)

The first laywoman to serve in a Vatican position, Emilce Cuda is secretary for the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, appointed by Pope Francis in 2021. She was also appointed as a member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and the Pontifical Academy for Life. In addition, she serves as an advisor to CELAM (the Latin American Bishops' Conference) and as a professor at Loyola University of Chicago. She holds a PhD in theology from the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina and specializes in social moral theology. 

Her previous positions include serving as a professor-researcher at the following universities: Arturo Jauretche National University in Buenos Aires (2011-22); University of Buenos Aires (2017-21); Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina (2010-18); and the University of St. Thomas in Houston, TX (2020-22). She has also been a visiting professor or research fellow at Boston College (2016), Northwestern University (2011), and DePaul University's Center for World Catholicism & Intercultural Theology (2019). 

Dr. Cuda has been awarded two honorary doctorates—one in the liberal arts from Loyola University of Chicago (2023) and one in the humanities from the National Unviersity of Rosario, Argentina (2022). She has participated in numerous conferences, workshops, and seminars across the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa as well as the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC)'s research team, "The Future of Work: Labor after Laudato Si'." Additionally, she belongs to the global network of Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church (CTEWC). Her most recent book, published in both Spanish and Italian, is Para Leer a Francisco: Teología, Ética y Política (Ediciones Manantial, 2017; Bollati Boringhieri, 2018). 

Conference Presentation—TBA

Kenneth Mills

J. Frederick Hoffman Professor of History
University of Michigan
(Ann Arbor, MI, USA) 

Born in Canada, Kenneth Mills is the J. Frederick Hoffman Professor of History at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. His emphases fall on religious and cultural transformations, and on the interpretation of people's thinking and interactions within idiosyncratically and fragmentarily reported episodes, and his scholarship is notable for its trans-oceanic vision and its cross-disciplinary curiosity. His books include Idolatry and its EnemiesColonial Latin America: A Documentary History (with William B. Taylor and Sandra Lauderdale Graham), Conversion: Old Worlds and New and Conversion in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages: Seeing and Believing (both edited with Anthony Grafton), and the Lexikon of the Hispanic Baroque: Transatlantic Exchange and Transformation, coordinated with Evonne Levy. 

Prof. Mills holds his MA and PhD from the University of Oxford, and his honors include a Rhodes Scholarship, a junior research fellowship in Latin American history at Washam College, Oxford, and two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships. His essays have appeared in Past & Present, the Colonial Latin American Review, and the Cambridge History of Christianity. With Kris Lane, he co-coordinates an international, interdisciplinary working group called "Horror and Enchantment". His Dispatches (on the Substack platform) feature his short-form writing, drawings, paintings, and photographs. He lives in Detroit. 

Conference Presentation—TBA

David Lantigua

Associate Professor of Theology
University of Notre Dame
(Notre Dame, IN)

David Lantiqua is associate professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, where he is also the William W. and Anna Jean Chuhwa co-director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism. He is the author of Infidels and Empires in a New World Order: Early Modern Spanish Contributions to International Legal Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2020) and co-editor with Lawrence Clayton of Bartolemé de las Casas and the Defense of Amerindian Rights: A Brief History with Documents (University of Alabama Press, 2020). He is also co-author with Darrell Fasching and Dell deChant of Comparative Religious Ethics: A Narrative approach to Global Ethics (Wiley, 2011). He has published numerous book chapters and articles in the Journal of Law and Religion, Modern Theology, and the Journal of Religious Ethics

Previously, Prof. Lantigua taught at The Catholic University of America and has been a graduate fellow of the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study as well as a past recipient of the Louisville Institute Sabbatical Research Grant. His research explores Spanish late scholastic moral and legal thought and the colonial history of international relations. Additionally, his work considers Catholic social teaching and human rights, Latin American theology and Indigenous cultures, and comparative religious ethics. He is currently writing a monograph on the Latin American theological, cultural, and critical dimensions of Pope Francis's social teachings and its implications for global Catholicism in the 21st century.  

Conference Presentation—TBA


Paul Gifford

Emeritus Professor of World Christianity
SOAS University of London
(London, UK)

Born in New Zealand, Paul Gifford has been researching different varieties of African Christianity for nearly 40 years, including two years researching for the All African Conference of Churches (AACC), the umbrella body of the mainline Protestant churches in Africa. Currently living in Dakar, Senegal, he holds an MLitt from the University of Oxford and is emeritus professor of African Christianity at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). He joined the faculty there in 1992, having previously taught at the University of Zimbabwe and the University of Leeds.

He has published extensively in academic journals such as African Affairs, Journal of Modern African Studies, Irish Theological Quarterly, Heythrop Journal, and Review of Politics and has also written for such media outlets as The Tablet, National Catholic Reporter, The Christian Century, and The Guardian. The editor of the Brill series, Studies of Religions in Africa, from 2002-2009, Dr. Gifford is also the author of numerous book chapters and books, which include the following:

Conference Presentation—"Disenchantment and its Significance" 

Enchanted cultures tend to see causes of this-worldly things or occurrences in an otherworldly realm. Over the last few centuries, Western cultures have become increasingly disenchanted, operating on an increasingly scientific or this-worldly rationality. This cognitive shift certainly doesn’t make our societies “rational”—irrationalities are all around us—but it has meant that any otherworldly realm has become steadily more marginalized. This has considerable implications for Christianity, traditionally centered on the supernatural.   

Eugene McCarraher

Professor of Humanities & History 
Villanova University
(Villanova, PA)

Eugene McCarraher is professor of humanities and history at Villanova University. He has also taught at Rutgers, the University of Delaware, and Princeton. In addition to publishing scholarly articles, he has also written many essays and book reviews for The Baffler, The Chicago Tribune, Commonweal, Dissent, The Nation, In These Times, the Hedgehog Review, and Raritan. He has been a fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities and of the American Council of Learned Societies.

He is the author of Christian Critics: Religion and the Impasse in Modern American Social Thought (Cornell University Press, 2000) and The Enchantments of Mammon: How Capitalism Became the Religion of Modernity (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2019). He is currently working on a (short, he swears) book about automation, tentatively entitled Automated Vistas: A Brief Critique of Automation, as well as a collection of essays on theology, culture, and politics. 

Conference Presentation—TBA

Rev. Patrick Gilger, SJ

Assistant Professor of Sociology
Loyola University Chicago  
(Chicago, IL) 

Fr. Patrick Gilger, SJ, is assistant professor of sociology at Loyola University Chicago and contributing editor for culture at America Media. His research lies at the intersection of the sociology of religion, political theory, and the study of the secular. His current book project, tentatively titled "The Subject of Public Religion," argues that, contrary to Enlightenment expectations, a certain kind of religions subject is uniquely equipped to combat the ongoing fragilation of the public sphere and the worldwide pattern of de-democratization that has accompanied it. He makes this argument through a fine-grained study of the "thick practices" through which certain religious subjects are equipped with unique "powers of publicity"—habituated ways of constructing or stabilizing an agonic public sphere—that do not seek to dominate a diverse public but broaden its boundaries and buttress its foundations. 

Fr. Gilger holds an MA and PhD from the New School for Social Research (New York City), as well as an MA in theology (Loyola University Chicago) and an MDiv in theology (Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University). An award-winning author and frequent public speaker, he is the founding editor-in-chief of The Jesuit Postwhich received 1st place in 2018 from the Catholic Press Association for popular presentation of the Catholic Faith. His writing has appeared in publications such as Vox, Church Life Journal, La Civiltá, America, and Public Seminar. 

Conference Presentation—TBA


Bungishabaku Katho

Professor of Old Testament Studies
Shalom University of Bunia
(Bunia, DR Congo) 

Bungishabaku Katho has a PhD in Biblical studies from the University of Natal (now the University of KwaZulu Natal) in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. He currently serves as professor of Old Testament studies at Shalom University of Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where he also serves as director of Postgraduate Studies for the School of Theology. Additionally, he is a senior researcher at CRMD Bunia, the Centre de Recherche Multidisciplinaire pour le Développement de Bunia (Bunia's Multidiscipliinary Research Center for Development). 

Dr. Katho has written and presented extensively on the Old Testament's Book of Jeremiah, including Reading Jeremiah in Africa: Biblical Essays in Sociopolitical Imagination (Langham Partnership, 2021) and a commentary in French in the series, Commentaires Bibliques Contemporains series (Langham Partnership, 2017). He also recently contributed to The Oxford Handbook of Jeremiah (Oxford University Press, 2021) with a chapter entitled "Jeremiah Interpretation in Subaltern Context." In addition to these academic endeavors, Dr. Katho is also the founder and executive director of the Jeremiah Center for Faith and Society, a nonprofit working to building a just and peaceful society in DRC. It pursues this vision by gathering leaders to articulate and promote a shared vision for hope which is spreading to the wider community through networking, research, and publications. 

Conference Presentation—"Idolatry, Dysfunctional Communities, and Failed States in the Book of Jeremiah: Interpreting Idolatry in Jeremiah from an African Perspective"  

Jeremiah 2:5 opens with an important rhetorical question: “What evil did your fathers find in me, that they walked away from me?” The word here translated “evil” or “fault” is evel. As a verb, it means to act wrongly or unjustly. It is evil in an ethical, moral sense, and its antonym is tsadik (good behavior, righteousness, covenantal kindness, or justice). The question implies that some moral failure in Yahweh might have forced the people of Israel to depart from him. In the immediate context of verses 1–3, which describe the relationship between Yahweh and Israel as similar to that of husband-wife, and in the context of the whole Old Testament, this passage recalls Deuteronomy 24:1, which speaks of a man divorcing his wife.  

To “walk away” (from God) comes from the verb rachaq, which means “to be or become distant, be removed or remove oneself, withdraw, make distant, walk away, go far away.” Here, it means going after Yahweh’s rivals or after other gods (idols) in order to serve them. This is contrasted with walking after Yahweh in verse 2 of this same chapter, a metaphor of the biblical marriage relationship, where it is said that Israel followed Yahweh in the desert during the time of love. The heart of Judah’s problem is thus expressed in one single verb: rachaq. 

In this paper, I argue that this walking away from Yahweh has significant spiritual, political, and socioeconomic consequences for the community and the nation. In other words, once a community or a nation abandons the source of true power and life, and seeks its autonomy away from Yahweh, it becomes dysfunctional, and if nothing is done to effectively address this dysfunction, it can lead to the death of the nation as was the case of Israel and Judah.  

I also seek to describe how Jeremiah understands idolatry in Judah as a nation and the relationship between idolatry and poverty (Jer 5), idolatry and the dysfunctional relationship in the community (Jer 9), idolatry and the abuse of political power (Jer 22;24, etc.), and finally idolatry and exile (Jer 29:20, etc.). In addition, I attempt to read the history of Judah in the light of contemporary African realities, arguing that idolatry might be the root causes of the dysfunctional governance in Africa.   

Rev. Stan Chu Ilo

Associate Professor of Catholic Studies; Research Professor, CWCIT
DePaul University
(Chicago, IL, USA)

A priest of the Awgu Diocese, Nigeria, Stan Chu Ilo is a research professor in the Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology at DePaul University (Chicago), where he also serves as associate professor of Catholic studies, specializing in world Christianity and African studies. He is also an honorary professor of religion and theology at Durham University (Durham, UK) and a visiting research scholar at the Institute of African Studies of the University of Nigeria. In addition, Fr. Ilo is the coordinating servant of the Pan-African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network (PACTPAN) as well as the North American coordinator of the project, “Doing Theology from the Existential Peripheries,” a project of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Integral Human Development. He is one of the editors and a director of Concilium, International Journal of Theology, and also serves on the boards of numerous other journals including the Journal of Global Catholicism and the Journal of African Christian Biography.

Additionally, Fr. Ilo currently serves on the senior advisory board of a Templeton Religious Trust grant project on global spiritual formation for religious leaders and represents Africa in an international project supported by the Dicastery for Integral Human Development and a number of Catholic charities on developing the ethics of philanthropy and stewardship. He is the author or editor of numerous works including the following recent titles:

• Under the Palaver Tree: Doing African Ecclesiology in the Spirit of Vatican II (Pickwick, 2023)
• Handbook of African Catholicism (Orbis, 2022)
• Ecological Ethics for Cosmic Flourishing: An African Commentary on Laudato Si' (Cascade, 2022) 
• Someone Beautiful to God: Finding the Light of Faith in a Wounded World (Paulist, 2020)
• A Poor and Merciful Church: The Illuminative Ecclesiology of Pope Francis (Orbis, 019)
• Wealth, Health, and Hope in African Christian Religion: The Search for Abundant Life (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018)

Conference Presentation—TBA

Victor Carmona

Associate Professor of Theology & Religious Studies
Director of the Core Curriculum
University of San Diego
(San Diego, CA) 

Victor Carmona’s undergraduate studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service introduced him to Catholic social teaching, helping him think through the fundamental questions of power and justice that immigrants’ lives raise. That encounter moved him to work with immigrants and border communities with the Mexican Conference of Catholic Bishops (CEM—Movilidad Humana), the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMIs), and nonprofits. Six years later, those experiences called him to grapple with their implications in light of the Catholic tradition through graduate studies in moral theology and Christian ethics at the University of Notre Dame, where he received his MTS and PhD in moral theology and Christian ethics.

In 2017, after 5 years of teaching graduate students at Oblate School of Theology (San Antonio, TX), Carmona joined the faculty at the University of San Diego (USD), the only major U.S. Catholic university at the U.S.-Mexico border. His areas of expertise include theological ethics, Catholic Latinx theologies, Catholic social thought, immigration ethics, theologies of migration, Catholic Church and migration. His publications include chapters in Human Families: Identity, Relationships, and Responsibilities (Orbis, 2021), Value and Vulnerability: An Interfaith Dialogue on Human Dignity (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020), and Sex, Love, and Families: Catholic Perspectives (Liturgical Press, 2020).

A past president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the U.S> (ACHTUS), Carmona also serves as a board ember of the Society of Christian Ethics and as chair of the Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Advisory Board of the U.S. Province of the OMIs. He also serves as a volunteer interpreter for the pro bono Casa Cornelia Law Center as well as a member of Synodal Commission of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego. 

Conference Presentation—TBA


Stephanie Wong

Assistant Professor of East Asian Religions and Comparative Theology
Villanova University
(Villanova, PA)

Having served since 2022 as assistant professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University, Stephanie Wong is a scholar committed to deepening our understanding of global Catholicism, especially the cultural, political, and interreligious dynamics that shape the spiritual lives of Catholics in China and the diaspora. In her teaching, she offers undergrad courses on the Catholic, Buddhist, Daoist, and Confucian traditions, as well as graduate classes on methods of comparative reflection and dialogue between these communities.

Dr. Wong received her PhD in theological and religious studies at Georgetown University (2018) and her MDiv at Yale University (2013). In scholarship, she has focused internationally on the Catholic Church's interreligious relations in China, as well as on the religious experience and expressions of Chinese immigrants and other Asian American Catholics. She has published several book chapters and journal articles and currently has a book under contract with Oxford University Press, titled National Witness: Chinese Catholicism after the Age of Empires.

Beyond academics, Dr. Wong enjoys contributing to interreligious community efforts and participates in the international network, “Women Building a Culture of Encounter Interreligiously," established by the Vatican's Dicastery of Interreligious Relations. In her local region, she serves on the board for Interfaith Philadelphia, a regional nonprofit committed to building interreligious literacy and understanding. She and her spouse have two pre-K children and enjoy taking them on hikes and other adventures. 

Conference Presentation—TBA

David Ngong

Professor of Religion & Theology
Stillman College
(Tuscaloosa, AL)

Originally from Cameroon, David Tonghou Ngong currently serves as professor of religion and theology at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He has also taught at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, and Baylor University, where he received his doctorate in religion, with a focus on systematic theology. A member of the steering committee of the American Academy of Religion (AAR)’s African Religions Unit, Dr. Ngong works on the history and theology of African Christianity and African indigenous spirituality, concentrating specifically on contemporary African political theology.

Informed by anticolonial theories and Black critical thought, his work includes four books, many chapters, and dozens of peer-reviewed articles and opinion pieces. Among his books are A New History of African Christian Thought: From Cape to Cairo (Routledge, 2017), Theology as Construction of Piety: An African Perspective (Wipf and Stock, 2013), and most recently, Senghor’s Eucharist: Negritude and African Political Theology (Baylor University Press, 2023), which focuses on the eucharistic vision of a poetry collection of the first President of Senegal, Léopold Sédar Senghor. 

Conference Presentation—"Did God Create Cameroon? Providence, Colonialism, and the Nation-State in Africa"

In this paper, I attempt a theological reading of history, a history that has too often been taken for granted as somehow ordained by God. It is the history of the nation-state in Africa. Taking the history of the creation of Cameroon as an example, I raise doubt about the narrative that sees the creation of the nation-state in Africa as having divine approval. This narrative is explicit in colonial and anticolonial thought and assumed in much of contemporary African Christian theology. Raising doubt about the divine creation of the nation-state in Africa should free Christians from an idolatrous identification with it, leading them to see themselves as people who have been baptized into Christ, and made part of an ecclesia that is simultaneously local and universal. This Christological and ecclesiological vision should enable Christians to have tensive relationships with borders.

Jung Mo Sung

Professor of Religious Studies, Postgraduate Program
Methodist University of São Paulo
(São Paulo, Brazil)

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Jung Mo Sung has been living in Brazil for nearly 60 years. He holds a PhD degree in religious studies from the Methodist University of São Paulo (1993) and a postdoctoral degree in education from the Methodist University of Piracicaba (2000). Currently, he serves as a full professor in the Religious Studies’ postgraduate program at the Methodist University of São Paulo.

Dr. Sung has experience in the fields of religious studies and theology, with an emphasis on religion and education for solidarity and theological critique of political economy. Among his research interests are religion and education; theology and economics; capitalism as religion; church and society; neoliberalism, globalization and solidarity. He has published 22 books, and among those in English are the following:

• Reclaiming Liberation Theology: Desire, Market, and Religion (SCM, 2007)
The Subject, Capitalism, and Religion: Horizons of Hope in Complex Societies (Palgrave MacMillan, 2011)
• Beyond the Spirit of Empire: Theology and Politics in a New Key, co-authored with Joerg Rieger and Nestor Miguez (Westminster John Knox, 2009)

Conference Presentation—TBA