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Franciscan nun becomes first woman head of a pontifical university

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/7/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (

Sister Mary Melone to become the rector of the Pontifical University Antonianum

The Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education made history last week when it nominated a Franciscan nun as the first woman head of a pontifical university. In a position held usually by priests, Sister Mary Melone will become the rector of the Pontifical University Antonianum, a university managed by the Order of Friars Minor.

Sister Melone is an alumnus of the university set up in 1890 in honor of St Anthony, a 13th century saint from Spain known for his forceful preaching and expert knowledge of the Bible.

Sister Melone is an alumnus of the university set up in 1890 in honor of St Anthony, a 13th century saint from Spain known for his forceful preaching and expert knowledge of the Bible.


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (
7/7/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in College & University

Keywords: Sister Melone, appointment, rector, theology

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The 50-year-old nun, an expert on St Anthony of Padua, is the first woman to obtain a permanent position in the 12-year-old university. The sister later became a dean, a position equivalent to department head.

In reaction to her appointment, Sister Melone said that her election to head a pontifical university indicates the changes taking place in the Church.

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"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."

Malone noted that the Vatican body that elected her 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," she asserted.

Sister Melone is an alumnus of the university set up in 1890 in honor of St Anthony, a 13th century saint from Spain known for his forceful preaching and expert knowledge of the Bible.

Her birth name Maria Domenica, Sister Melone was born in La Spezia, one of the main military and commercial harbors in northern Italy.

After finishing school with a specialization in classics, she joined the Franciscan Sisters of Blessed Angelina where she took her temporary vows in 1986 and then perpetual vows in 1991.

She graduated the following year with a degree in teaching and philosophy from the Libera universitŕ Maria santissima assunta with a thesis on "Corporeity and inter subjectivity in Gabriel Marcel," a 20th century French philosopher and leading Christian existentialist.

She then studied theology at the Pontifical University Antonianum from 1983 to 1987 and obtained a degree and then doctorate with a thesis on "The Holy Spirit in Riccardo di San Vittore's De Trinitate" published in 2001.

She is currently the president of the Italian Society for Theological Research.

"I don't give much importance to these kinds of labels, female theology," 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.

"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."


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