Pope Francis has added five women theologians to the elite International Theological Commission, more than trebling the female component on the team.
The International Theological Commission, founded by Pope Paul VI in 1969, assists the Holy See by studying the most important doctrinal questions affecting the Church and society. The commission, whose membership is limited to thirty, is composed of some of the finest theologians from around the world, appointed directly by the Pope for a period of five years.
The commission is presided over by the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for many years Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, the commission’s current leader, announced earlier this month that the number of women on the commission would be increased.
In fact, of the thirty members of the former commission, only two were women: Sister Sara Butler (U.S.A.) and Professor Barbara Hallensleben (Switzerland). By adding another five, Pope Francis has brought their number to seven, or 16%, of the group.
Among the five women appointed, three are from English-speaking countries: Sister Prudence Allen, a former philosophy professor at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver; Moira Mary McQueen, who teaches in the UK and Canada; and Tracey Rowland, dean of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne.
The Pope also continued the trend set by his predecessors to further globalize the group. With this new set of appointments, the number of South Americans has risen from three to five, and the number of Africans has gone from two to three.
Another new member of the commission is Father Thomas Weinandy, the former executive director for the Secretariat of Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, known for being critical of dissenting trends in American theology.