Pope asks a woman to write Way of Cross meditations

Pope asks a woman to write Way of Cross meditations

Pope asks a woman to write Way of Cross meditations

Pope Francis presides over the Way of the Cross outside the Colosseum in Rome on Good Friday in 2014. (Credit: CNS/Paul Haring.)

For the fourth time in history, and the first during Francis's pontificate, a woman biblical scholar has been asked to write the meditations for the Way of the Cross service at Rome’s Colosseum. Anne-Marie Pelletier, a Ratzinger prize winner, said she feels “lucky” to have this opportunity in a masculine ecclesial world.

ROME — Pope Francis has chosen the French biblical scholar Anne-Marie Pelletier to write the meditations that will guide him and thousands of pilgrims during a Way of the Cross service at Rome’s Colosseum.

The service, which also draws a global television audience, will take place the night of Good Friday, April 14.

Pelletier, 70, is an expert in biblical hermeneutics and exegesis. In 2014, she was awarded the Ratzinger Prize for her contributions to theology.

Pelletier is the fourth woman to prepare the Way of the Cross meditations for a pope. St. John Paul II was the first to inaugurate the practice. In 1993 he asked Mother Anna Maria Canopi, from the Benedictine abbey “Mater Ecclesiae,” and in 1995 he referred to Sister Minke de Vries, from the protestant community in Grandchamp (Switzerland).

Benedict XVI asked Mother Maria Rita Piccione, President of the Our Lady of Good Counsel Federation of Augustinian monasteries in Italy, to write the meditations for Good Friday in 2011.

After winning the prize, she told the French Catholic magazine La Vie that she began her academic career in linguistics and literature, but participation in a Bible study group for university students taught her “to savor the Scriptures, their ability to vibrate in our present time, including where the Christian faith is alien.”

In the end, she wrote her thesis on the history of the interpretation of the Song of Songs. She has taught both literature at public universities in Paris and Scripture at Paris’ Catholic seminary.

In the La Vie interview, she said she feels “lucky” to be given official responsibility in “an ecclesial world that is, unquestionably, masculine.”

While Pelletier said she never has felt marginalized in the church because she is a woman and a growing number of women are qualified as theologians, “obviously, we still need to ensure they are given work within the church with real positions of responsibility that allow them to have an impact.”

Crux staff contributed to this report.

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