Record number of women for Bible synod

VATICAN CITY — The Oct. 5-26 world Synod of Bishops on the Bible will have the largest number of women ever participating in a Catholic synod, as forecast in an earlier post.

Pope Benedict XVI has named six female scholars to be among the 41 experts to serve as resource people for the synod members as they discuss the importance of the Scriptures in the life of the church, look at the Bible’s role in Catholic prayer and liturgy, evaluate its role in ecumenical and interreligious relations and discuss ways to improve biblical literacy at every level of the church.

The list was published with the experts’ names given in alphabetical order, but it seems fitting that the first woman on the list was Sister Sara Butler, a professor of dogmatic theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, NY. A member of the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity, Sister Butler was one of two women Pope John Paul II named to the International Theological Commission in 2004. They were the first women ever named to the body that advises the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The other women experts named to the synod today were:
— Sister Nuria Calduch Benages, a professor of the biblical theology of the Old Testament at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University.
— Bruna Costacurta, also a professor of Old Testament theology at the Gregorian.
— Marguerite Lena, a professor of philosophy in Paris and director of theological formation for young adults at Paris’ St. Francis Xavier Community.
— Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Mary Jerome Obiorah, a professor of Sacred Scripture at the University of Nigeria and at the major seminary of the Archdiocese of Onitsha, Nigeria.
— Trappist Sister Germana Strola, a member of the monastery at Vitorchiano, Italy.

Pope Benedict also named 19 women to be among the 37 synod observers; the observers attend all synod sessions, participate in the synod working groups and are given an opportunity to address the entire synod assembly. Like their male counterparts, most of the women observers are professors or leaders of religious orders, Bible-based Catholic lay movements or large Catholic organizations.

Topping the list of all observers — again, because the list is given in alphabetical order — was Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus.

CNS will carry a complete story on the papal nominations Monday.

UPDATE: Click here for the full CNS story.

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