Head the Pont. Biblical Commission: "There is a large pool of women biblical scholars"

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2021 has seen Pope Francis appoint three women to senior positions in the Vatican. 

Among them is Nathalie Becquart, who in February was named to the second highest position in the Synod of Bishops.

Catia Summaria is yet another, a magistrate and the Vatican's first female prosecutor. 

Then, in early March, Pope Francis put Nuria Calduch-Benages in charge of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. She is officially the commission's “secretary,” which is the equivalent of an executive director. The prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is president of the commission. 

Secretary, Pontifical Biblical Commission
'I believe that behind these appointments there lies great interest and a strong commitment to advance the feminine presence in institutions such as the Church, which are old institutions, institutions that find change difficult.'

The Pontifical Biblical Commission has existed since 1902, but the first women did not join the body until 2014. Originally there were only three. Now there are five among a group of about twenty people. Calduch-Benages says that more will come in time, since there are many bright women scholars.

Secretary, Pontifical Biblical Commission
'The commission began in a different time, but there have been women biblical scholars for 30 or 40 years now. That is to say there are a good number of us. There are many and they are of great value. The first three of us only joined this commission in 2014. Already that says a lot about how slowly the Church acts in making changes.'

She recalls how the news of her appointment came as a surprise.

Secretary, Pontifical Biblical Commission
'Well, the truth is that I felt very surprised because I sincerely did not expect it. There are 20 of us in the commission and the last thing I thought was that they were going to appoint me to be completely honest. I thought of another colleague who seemed suitable for the position, but when I received it I said 'Oh my God.''

The Pontifical Biblical Commission authored a study published in 2019 at the request of Pope Francis. It focused on analyzing the Bible from an anthropological point of view. 

Nuria Calduch-Benages also participated in the first commission charged with studying the role of women deacons in the first centuries of Christianity. 

She also currently teaches at the Gregorian University in Rome and works at the Pontifical Biblical Institute.

Javier Romero


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