In an address given to theologians, Pope Francis praised the increasing presence of women in the field, saying that their femininity has the capacity to delve deeper into the mystery of Christ. “I would like to note the significant and greater presence of women; a presence which becomes an invitation to reflect on the role that women can and must have in the field of theology,” the Pope told members of the International Theological Commission on Dec. 5. His address to the commission, an advisory body which assists the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in examining questions of doctrine, was given in the context of their annual plenary assembly in Rome. The Roman Pontiff, referring to Second Vatican Council document “Gaudium et Spes,” noted how the Church recognizes the unique contributions that women offer the world through their sensitivity, intuition and other specific qualities. Women offer new contributions to theological reflection, the Pope observed, explaining that “by virtue of their feminine genius, women theologians can take up, for the benefit of all, certain unexplored aspects of the unfathomable mystery of Christ.” Established by Bl. Pope Paul VI in 1969, the commission received the list of new members appointed by Pope Francis in September. Among the 30 appointees serving from 2014-2019 are 4 women: Sr. Prudence Allen, R.S.M, Moira McQueen of Canada, Sr. Alenka Arko and Marianne Schlosser of Austria. Pope Francis spoke of the specific mission the commission possesses, noting that it is above all one of service to the Church and the Magisterium through the study of key doctrinal problems. This service is clearly expressed in the 27 documents which the commission has already published, he said, and is a mission that not only involves one’s intellectual skills, but also a spiritual perspective. Among the many spiritual dimensions necessary for their mission, the Bishop of Rome placed a specific emphasis on “the importance of listening.” “The theologian is first and foremost a believer who listens to the Word of the Living God and welcomes it in their heart and mind,” he said. He added that a theologian must also “humbly listen” to what the Holy Spirit reveals to the Church “through the various manifestations of the living faith of the people of God,” as explained in the commission’s document, “Sensus fidei in the life of the Church.” Another unique characteristic of the commission is its international character, the pontiff observed, saying that the diverse backgrounds of the commission’s members “reflects the catholicity of the Church.” “The diversity of the points of view should enrich this catholicity without damaging unity,” the Bishop of Rome explained, noting how the unity of Catholic theologians is based in their common belief in Christ, and nurtured through the different gifts of the Holy Spirit. “From this foundation and in a healthy pluralism, various theological approaches, developed in different cultural contexts and with different methods, cannot ignore each other, but in theological dialogue should enrich and correct each other.” Pope Francis closed his address by drawing attention to the example of the Virgin Mary, whom he referred to as one of the most privileged witnesses the history of salvation. “Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and with all the resources of her feminine genius, she has not ceased to enter more and more into ‘the fullness of truth,’” he said, calling her the “icon” of the Church who assists both men and women theologians in their work. The Pope prayed that Mary would continue to guide the commission and that her motherly prayers would help them to grow in their knowledge and discernment. He encouraged members of the commission to take “the best advantage” of the specific contribution that women give to “the intelligence of faith,” and asked for their prayers. Members of the commission hail from various countries around the world, including Spain, France, Germany, Peru, Tanzania, Nigeria, the Philippines, Colombia, Canada, the United States of America, Belgium, Korea, India, Argentina, Togo, Great Britain, Poland, Mexico, Hungary, Italy, Argentina, Brazil, Lebanon, Australia, Croatia and Slovakia.