This is a major step by our Holy Father for women in the Church, reported by Vatican Insider, and one in which advocates and opponents of women’s ordination, can both find positional support.
She was the first woman to obtain a permanent position as a professor at the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical University Antonianum, the Roman university run by the Order of Friars Minor; she was the first woman to be appointed a dean, which is equivalent to the position of department head and now that Jorge Mario Bergoglio is Pope, she is the first woman to become a rector of a pontifical university in the Eternal City. The Vatican congregation for Catholic Education – headed by cardinal Zenon Grocholewski for the period 2014-2017 – has nominated Franciscan Sr. Mary Melone, an expert on St. Anthony of Padua, to lead the pontifical university.
Sr. Mary (birth name Maria Domenica) Melone was born in La Spezia, Italy, in 1964. After finishing school with a specialization in classical studies, she joined the Franciscan Sisters of Blessed Angelina where she took her temporary vows in 1986 and then professed her perpetual vows in 1991. In 1992 she graduated with a degree in teaching and philosophy from the Libera università Maria santissima assunta (LUMSA) with a thesis on “Corporeity and intersubjectivity in Gabriel Marcel’s works”. She then studied theology at the Pontifical University Antonianum, where she had been a student from 1983 to 1987, obtaining a degree in 1996 and then a PhD with a thesis on “The Holy Spirit in Riccardo di San Vittore’s De Trinitate”, published in 2001. She was Extraordinary Professor at the Faculty of Trinitarian and Pneumatological Theology from 2002 to 2008 and head of the Higher Institute of Religious Sciences “Redemptor Hominis”…
“I don’t give much importance to these kinds of labels, female theology,” Sr. Melone said in an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, published on the occasion of her election as dean of Theology. “Above all I don’t like comparisons, although I recognize that in the past there may have been a reason for making comparisons. Maybe there is one today as well, I don’t know. More space definitely needs to be given to women. The reference to female theology does not really fit with my vision of things: all that exists is theology. Theology as research, as a focus on mystery, as a reflection on this mystery. But precisely because this requires different sensitivities. A woman’s approach to mystery, the way in which she reflects on this mystery which offers itself and reveals itself, is certainly different from that of a man. But they do not contrast. I believe in theology and I believe that theology created by a woman is typical of a woman. It is different but without the element of laying claim to it. Otherwise it almost seems as though I am manipulating theology, when it is instead a field that requires honesty from the person who places him/herself before the mystery.” As far as the role of women in the Church is concerned, “a reflection on this cannot be commensurate to the Church’s age as this reflects a development of thought that has gone on for hundreds of years,” she went on to say in the 2011 interview. “ However, in my opinion a new space does exist and it is real. I also think it is irreversible, meaning that it is not a concession but a sign of the times from which there is no return. It is no pretense. I believe this depends a great deal on us women too. It is us who should get the ball rolling. Women cannot measure how much space they have in the Church in comparison to men: we have a space of our own, which is neither smaller nor greater than the space men occupy. It is our space. Thinking that we have to achieve what men have, will not get us anywhere. Of course, although the steps we take may be real, this does not mean the job is complete. A great deal more can be done but there is change, you can see it, feel it. I think that (my case aside) the election of a woman in a pontifical university is also proof this. The body who elected me was made up entirely of men!” So doesn’t the Church need gender quotas? “No, it doesn’t need quotas, it needs collaboration. And collaboration needs to grow!”
Retrieved July 12, 2014 from http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/the-vatican/detail/articolo/fede-faith-fe-donne-women-mujeres-35058/