Pioneering woman nun theologian Sister Mary Melone

Pioneering nun theologian: “I’ve always wanted to be valued for my academic ability, not for being a woman”

The Italian Franciscan nun Mary Melone has been a pioneer in many areas of Church and academic life.

She was the first woman to occupy a permanent professorial chair in the Faculty of Theological Studies of the Pontifical University Antonianum, the first female dean of Theology, and the first woman in charge of the rectorate of a pontifical university in Rome.

Melone directed the Antonianum until last September 23, when she left after being appointed Superior General of the Angeline Franciscan Sisters.

How do you rate your experience as the first woman in charge of the rectorate of a pontifical university in Rome?

The appointment had a big media echo. At the beginning there was some surprise, because you have to remember that until the Second Vatican Council theological studies were the domain of the men who entered seminary.

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How did you develop relationships with other institutions and rectors?

Such exchanges are established based on the professional capacities of each person.

I have always wanted to be valued for my academic ability and not for being a woman.

I don’t think any woman wants to be put in a position because of a “women’s quota”.

Would you say there is a wage gap in the field of pontifical universities?

The economic remuneration is set and fixed according to the position and there are no differences between men and women. Although there is a certain deficit of women [in pontifical universities].

But it is important that there are more and more female professors in the pontifical universities, because the feminine frame of mind cannot be excluded in the formation of priests.

Where is Catholic education headed in the future?

Ecclesial service to education is huge worldwide. The Pope has convened a great event on May 14, 2020 with the objective of rebuilding a global compact for education.

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The world is more fragile because there is no global alliance in this field.

Is there a typically feminine theology?

I don’t think this particular category exists. There is only one true theology valid for all believers.

Although there is no doubt that we women have certain characteristics of our own that we bring to the study of theology.

I hope that more and more women are inspired to [study theology].

(Source: Victoria Isabel Cardiel C., Alfa y Omega; translation: Novena)

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Mada Jurado

Reporter and community manager at Novena
Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.
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