A Graduate School of Theology and Ministry

“Cultivating Civic Kinship” with Kristin Heyer

Kristin Heyer, professor of theological ethics at Boston College, will present “Cultivating Civic Kinship: A Christian Ethic of Immigration” for the Historical and Doctrinal Studies Annual Lecture.


Immigration is often framed in terms of crisis management, rather than by addressing underlying economic, political and cultural contributing factors. In the US context in particular, political rhetoric has often masked complicity, abetted human rights violations and betrayed the nation’s founding principles. The lenses that shape the (quickly shifting) immigration debate in the US can distort the realities that migrants face and become surrogates for other cultural and political concerns. Focusing solely on economics or fear-based approaches too often de-humanizes newcomers. Professor Heyer will explore contributions that Scripture and the Catholic social tradition offer an immigration dialogue in light of these realities. Resources from Catholic ethics challenge the dominant, instrumentalist frameworks and offer a counternarrative of civic kinship with moral, spiritual and policy implications.


Kristin E. Heyer is professor of theological ethics at Boston College. She received her B.A. from Brown University and her Ph.D. in theological ethics from Boston College in 2003.  Her books include Kinship Across Borders: A Christian Ethic of Immigration (2012) and Prophetic and Public: the Social Witness of U.S. Catholicism (2006), which won the College Theology Society’s “Best Book Award,” both published with Georgetown University Press.  She is co-chair of the planning committee for Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church and she is an editor for Georgetown University Press’ Moral Traditions series. She taught at Santa Clara University from 2009-2015.