Among new members of the International Theological Commission appointed by Pope Francis this year is Religious Sister of Mercy Prudence Allen. Sister Allen served as a professor at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary for 15 years before taking a new assignment in Lancaster, England, last November.
Along with Sister Allen, four additional women were appointed—one religious sister and three laywomen—marking a notable increase in the number of female theologians on the commission. The 30-member commission, instituted in 1969, assists the Holy See in examining doctrinal questions. Members are nominated for five-year terms.
“Women now constitute 16 percent of the commission’s members,” according to a Sept. 23 statement from the Holy See Press Office, “a sign of growing female involvement in theological research.”
Sister Allen, who authored the multi-volume work “The Concept of Woman,” was one of two appointees from the United States. While in Denver, she also co-founded the international women’s ministry Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women (Endow).
“We are so proud!” Terry Polakovic, Endow’s president and co-founder, wrote in a statement. “From the very beginning of Endow, Sister Prudence has been a teacher and mentor to us so we are very indebted to her. She taught the first group of Endow women, has helped to write many of our studies… and has continued to be a great source of wisdom and encouragement.”
Polakovic encouraged the faithful to keep Sister Allen in prayer “as she takes on this enormous responsibility in the service of the Church.”