Michael E. Lee

Michael E. Lee.

Director, Francis & Ann Curran Center for American Catholic Studies
Affiliate, Latin American and Latino Studies Institute

Duane Library 105

Email: [email protected]

  • Michael E. Lee, PhD is Professor of Theology with affiliation in Fordham’s Latin American and Latino Studies Institute. Born in Miami, FL of Puerto Rican parents, he holds graduate degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Lee joined the Fordham faculty in 2004 and teaches courses in Roman Catholic theology, liberation theologies, Latin American and Latinx theologies, Christology, and spirituality. He has served as President of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS) and on the governing board of the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA). His commentary has appeared in a wide variety of venues including The New York Times, Rolling Stone Magazine, CNN, ABC-NY, National Public Radio, The Tablet (UK), and El Faro Académico (El Salvador). He has lectured in universities across the U.S. and in Spain, Mexico, El Salvador, Belgium, and Austria.

    His award-winning research includes: Revolutionary Saint: The Theological Legacy of Óscar Romero (Orbis, 2018), which was supported by a Sabbatical Grant for Researchers from the Louisville Institute and earned a Catholic Press Association Book Prize. Bearing the Weight of Salvation: The Soteriology of Ignacio Ellacuría (Herder & Herder, 2010), won the Hispanic Theological Initiative Book Prize, sponsored by Princeton Theological Seminary.

    His scholarly activity has always been complemented by a commitment to practical community engagement. He has lived at André House, a Catholic Worker inspired community, and engaged in liturgical music and bilingual pastoral ministry in parishes in Miami, FL, Phoenix, AZ, Chicago, IL, South Bend, IN, and New York City. He has served on the boards of international NGO’s such as CRISPAZ (Christians for Peace in El Salvador) and the Foundation for Sustainability and Peacemaking in Mesoamerica.

  • PhD - University of Notre Dame
    MA - University of Chicago
    MA - University of Notre Dame
    BA - University of Notre Dame

  • Roman Catholic theology, liberation theologies, Christology, spirituality, religion & politics, ecological theology, Latin American and U.S. Latinx theologies.

    Dr. Lee’s research centers on how Christian reflection intersects with movements for justice. He investigates how Christian theology might spur action for justice, and how in turn, engagement in struggles for justice leads to reexamination of Christian thought.

    A central focus of his research for the past two decades has been on liberation theology coming from El Salvador, and particularly, on the life and work of important figures: the Jesuit martyr-priest and president of the Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas, Ignacio Ellacuría and the martyred-Archbishop of San Salvador and now canonized saint, Óscar Romero.

    His first book, Bearing the Weight of Salvation, identified how Ellacuría’s philosophy, Christology, and account of discipleship are woven together to provide a distinctive liberationist account of salvation, and then it placed this soteriology in critical dialogue with authors of the “radical orthodoxy.” 

    Dr. Lee then edited Ignacio Ellacuría: Essays on History, Liberation, and Salvation (Orbis, 2013) providing an English-speaking audience access to a collection of Ellacuría’s most substantial theological essays.

    His most recent book, Revolutionary Saint (Orbis, 2018) explores the legacy of the newly canonized Saint Óscar Romero of El Salvador. By examining Archbishop Romero’s context, life, and theological works, Dr. Lee offers a historical reassessment of the Latin American church after Vatican II and Medellín as well as the church’s role in period leading to the Salvadoran civil war. Theologically, it demonstrates how Romero’s theology overcomes the dualistic and fatalistic tendencies of colonial Catholicism and offers a vision of Christianity as the faithful and historical taking up of Jesus’ mission as a preferential option for the poor.

    In addition to this work, Dr. Lee has also published various pieces on Christology and salvation, particularly as this reflection is done from a U.S. Latinx perspective.

  • Books

    Revolutionary Saint: The Theological Legacy of Óscar Romero. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2018[Italian editionÓscar Romero: L’eredità teologica di un santo rivoluzionario. Brescia: Editrice Queriniana, 2018.]

    Ignacio Ellacuría: Essays on History, Liberation, and Salvation. Editor, translator, with an introduction. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2013.

    Bearing the Weight of Salvation: The Soteriology of Ignacio Ellacuría. New York: Herder & Herder, 2009.

    Selected Articles and Chapters

    “Oscar Romero: A Modern Pastoral Doctor.” New introduction to the 25th anniversary edition of Saint Óscar Romero: Voice of the Voiceless, The Four Pastoral Letters and Other Statements, with reflections by Jon Sobrino and Ignacio Martín-Baró. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2020.

    “Schillebeeckx and the Path to a Liberation Theology.” In T&T Clark Handbook of Edward Schillebeeckx, eds. Stephan van Erp and Daniel Minch, Jr., p. 410-23. New York: Bloomsbury/T&T Clark, 2020.

     “Gustavo Gutiérrez and Latin American Liberation Theology.” In T&T Clark Handbook of Political Theology, ed. Ruben Rosario Rodriguez, p. 241-54. New York: Bloomsbury/T&T Clark, 2020.

    “Toward a New, Historical Evangelization,” in A Grammar of Justice: The Legacy of Ignacio Ellacuría, ed. J. Matthew Ashley, Kevin Burke, Rodolfo Cardenal (Orbis, 2014). [This book has appeared in Spanish as: La civilización de la pobreza (CEP); and in Portuguese as: A civilização da pobreza (Paulinas).]

    “Ignacio Ellacuría: Historical Reality, Liberation, and the Role of the University,” in A Critical Pedagogy of Resistance: 34 Pedagogues We Need to Know, ed. James Kirylo (Sense Publishers, 2013).

    “Raised in Jerusalem,” In Jesus of Galilee: Contextual Christology for the 21st Century, ed. Robert Lassalle-Klein (Orbis Books, 2011).

    “A Way Forward for Latino/a Christology,” In In Our Own Voices: Latino/a Renditions of Theology, ed. Benjamin Valentín (Orbis Books, 2010).

    Galilean Journey Revisited: Mestizaje, Anti-Judaism, and the Logic of Exclusion,” Theological Studies 70, no. 2 (June 2009): 377-400.