25 Women to Participate in October Synod

Largest Number in History of Event

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 9, 2008 (Zenit.org).- October’s synod of bishops on the word of God will include the largest participation ever by women — Benedict XVI appointed 25 to participate.

The Holy See made public yesterday the Pope’s appointment of six female experts and 19 female auditors among the complete list of participants in the synod.

Among the six experts, most of whom are professors of sacred Scripture, two come from Italy, and one each from the United States, Spain, France and Nigeria.

American Sister Sara Butler is a member of the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity. She teaches dogmatic theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York, has a doctorate in philosophy, and was an adviser for the U.S. episcopal conference on the question of women’s ordination.

Pope John Paul II appointed her to be one of the first two members of the International Theological Commission in 2004. German Barbara Hallensleben, professor at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, was appointed to the commission at the same time.

Sister Butler is the author of “The Catholic Priesthood and Women: A Guide to the Teaching of the Church,” published by Hillenbrand Books.

Spaniard Sister Nuria Calduch-Benages, a religious of the Missionary Daughters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, has taught sacred Scripture for almost 20 years at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. She also collaborates with the Catholic Biblical Federation and with various world theological institutions.

Italian Bruna Costacurta also teaches at the Gregorian. She has a doctorate in biblical sciences form the Pontifical Biblical Institute, and has been a member of the executive council of the Italian Biblical Association and of the National Catechesis Office of the Italian episcopal conference.

Italian Sister Germana Strola of the Cistercian Nuns of the Strict Observance is the author of several commentaries on the psalms and other biblical passages. She was the first contemplative nun to receive a doctorate from the Pontifical Biblical Institute, with a thesis on Psalms 42-43. She is a member of the Trappist monastery of Vitorchiano, Italy.

Sister Mary Jerome Obiorah, the first African woman to receive a doctorate from the Pontifical Biblical Institute, is a member of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. At present, she is professor of sacred Scripture at the University of Nigeria and at the major seminary of the Archdiocese of Onitsha, Nigeria.

Finally, the Holy Father appointed French Marguerite Léna of the St. Francis Xavier community of consecrated life, founded by Madeleine Danielou for the formation of youth. At present, Léna is a professor of philosophy at Studium Notre-Dame de l’Ecole Cathédrale in Paris.


In addition, the Pontiff appointed 19 women as auditors of the synod. Among them are two Africans, four Eastern Europeans, two Canadians, three Asians and eight Western Europeans, including four Italians.

Most of them are superiors of women’s religious orders — with motherhouses in Rome — and representatives of women religious at both the regional and world level.

There are also four representatives of lay movements, among them Maria Voce, current president of the Focolare movement, and Michelle Moran, president of the Charismatic Renewal Council.

Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a micro-donation

Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a micro-donation

Subscribe to the ZENIT Daily Email Newsletter

Receive the latest news of the Church and the world in your inbox every day. 

Thank you for subscribing! We will confirm your subscription via email. Please check your spam folder if you do not receive it soon.