Matthew Whelan, Ph.D.

Matthew Whelan, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Moral Theology in the Honors Program
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Assistant Professor of Moral Theology in the Honors Program


  • Duke University, Ph.D. in Christian Theological Studies (2016)
  • Duke Divinity School, M.T.S. in Theology & Ethics, summa cum laude (2008)
  • Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center), MSc in Agroecology, summa cum laude (2006)
  • University of Virginia, BA in Religion & English, summa cum laude (2000)


Matthew Philipp Whelan is Assistant Professor of Moral Theology in the Honors Program, where his research centers on Catholic social teaching, Latin American and liberation theologies, and ecological theology and ethics. Besides offering courses on these subjects, he also teaches on scripture, church history, Christian theology and ethics, and both ancient and medieval great texts.

Dr. Whelan is the author of the award-winning book, Blood in the Fields: Óscar Romero, Catholic Social Teaching, and Land Reform (Catholic University of America Press, 2020), which argues that Romero’s advocacy for justice in the distribution of land—a commitment with deep roots in the Christian tradition and preserved in Catholic social teaching—illumines the meaning of his witness, along with that of other land and environmental defenders today. Dr. Whelan is currently at work on two additional book projects: the first, Christianity and Agroecology (under contract with Cambridge University Press), draws upon agroecology, a transdisciplinary science integrating ecological principles into agriculture, in order to deepen and concretize Christian ethical commitment. The second, Poverty, Luxury, and Art (co-authored with Natalie Carnes), asks how Christians faithfully negotiate the excesses of art in a world of need. His articles can be found in Modern TheologyJournal of the Society of Christian Ethics, International Journal of Systematic Theology, Journal of Moral TheologyCommunio, Nova et Vetera, Crosscurrents, among other venues.

Dr. Whelan’s scholarship is informed by his years working with farming communities in Central America, as well as his involvement in COMPARTE (Spanish for “Share”), a Jesuit-affiliated network of learning and action that works with producer organizations and other social actors to envision and embody alternatives to dominant models of development. He is an avid gardener and composter, and he and his wife Natalie have three daughters.

Selected Books

Blood in the Fields: Óscar Romero, Catholic Social Teaching, and Land Reform. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2020.

Agroecology and Christianity (Cambridge University Press, under contract)

Poverty, Luxury, and Art (with Natalie Carnes, in progress, four of six chapters drafted)

Selected Research Articles and Book Chapters

Natalie Carnes and Matthew Whelan. “‘Lord, When did We See You? Towards a Topography of the Visual.” International Journal of Systematic Theology (first published on early view May 10, 2021).

“Agroecology, Biological Control, and Catholic Social Teaching.” Modern Theology 37, no. 2 (2021).

“Agroecology and Natural Law.” Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 40, no. 1 Spring/Summer 2020).

“The Business of War in Latin America.” In The Business of War: Theological-Ethical Reflections on the Military-Industrial Complex, edited by Justin Barringer, Jimmy McCarty, and Matthew Tapie. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2020.

“‘To Till and Keep It’: Catholic Social Doctrine and Agroecology.” Communio 46, no. 3-4 (Fall-Winter 2019).

“The Promise and Perils of Agriculture: An Agroecological Reading of Laudato Si’.” In Integral Ecology for a More Sustainable World: Dialogues with Laudato Si’, edited by Matthew Eaton, Dennis Patrick O’Hara, and Michael Ross. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2019.

“‘You Possess the Land that Belongs to All Salvadorans’: Archbishop Óscar Romero and Ordinary Violence.” Modern Theology 35, no. 4 (2019).

“‘Jesus is Our Jubilee’: A Theological Reflection on the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace’s Toward a Better Distribution of Land: The Challenge of Agrarian Reform.” Journal of Moral Theology 6, no. 2 (2017).

View Matthew's CV here.

Honors Program

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