U.S. theologians appointed to Vatican’s International Theological Commission

8572283846_6f33dff881_k.jpg St. Peter’s Basilica, pictured on March 19, 2013. Credit: Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk.

Pope Francis appointed U.S. theologians on Wednesday to the Vatican’s International Theological Commission.

The body’s new members include Robin Darling Young, a spirituality professor, and Reinhard Huetter, a theology professor, who both teach at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Yury P. Avvakumov, another appointee, has taught in the theology department at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, since 2010.

From Ukraine and Germany, Avvakumov researches areas including the papacy and the Eastern Churches, Latin and Byzantine ecclesiology and sacramental theology, and Russian and Ukrainian religious thought of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Fr. Etienne Emmanuel Vetö, also a new member, is a French-American currently teaching theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

He is a priest of the Chemin Neuf institute of consecrated life and a member of the ecumenical Chemin Neuf Community. Vetö is also the director of the Cardinal Bea Center for Jewish Studies.

Young is an expert in the history of early Christianity, including scriptural interpretation, the history of asceticism and monastic thought, and the Christian cultures of ancient Syria and Armenia. She is also an expert on the Orthodox churches and ecumenical relations.

Huetter, who was born in Bavaria, southern Germany, teaches systematic and philosophical theology. More recently, he has worked on theological anthropology and the related topics of nature and grace, divine and human freedom, faith and reason. He also has a special interest in the theology and philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas.

The International Theological Commission (ITC) exists under and to advise the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Members are appointed by the pope for five-year terms, during which a particular theological question is studied and the results published.

The last five-year term ended in 2019, but the new commission’s start was delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a press release from the ITC.

The 10th commission, which has 28 members, will end its term in 2026.

In addition to the 12 new appointments on Sept. 29, Pope Francis renewed the terms of 16 members, among them the German theologian Marianne Schlosser and Italian priest Msgr. Piero Coda, who was named secretary general of the ITC for its new term.

Among the new appointees is Dominican Fr. Simon Francis Gaine, a professor of theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, also called the Angelicum, in Rome.

Gaine, the former regent of Blackfriars, Oxford, is the acting director of the Angelicum’s Thomistic Institute, and holds the Pinckaers Chair in Theological Anthropology and Ethics.

The other new members of the ITC are Fr. Edouard Adé (Burkina Faso); Fr. Alberto Cozzi (Italy); Fr. Marek Jagodziński (Poland); Fr. Víctor Ronald La Barrera Villarreal (Colombia); Fr. Jorge José Ferrer, S.J. (Puerto Rico); Sr. Josée Ngalula (Democratic Republic of Congo); and Isabell Naumann (Australia).

The ITC’s first plenary session is expected to take place in 2022.

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