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Sr Helen Alford OP (Robert Duncan/CNS)

Pope Francis has named Dominican Sister Helen Alford, dean of the faculty of social sciences at the Angelicum University in Rome president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Source: CNS.

The Vatican announced the appointment of Sr Alford, 58, on April 1.

She has been a member of the academy since 2020 and will be the third woman to lead the group of scholars. Mary Ann Glendon, a professor of law and former US ambassador to the Holy See, served as president 2004-2014, and Margaret Archer, a British sociologist, served as president 2014-2019.

Alford succeeds Stefano Zamagni, an Italian economist.

The pontifical academy brings together social scientists — mainly scholars in the fields of economics, sociology, law and political science — to study questions of interest to the Vatican as it develops and promotes the application of Catholic social teaching.

Born in London, she worked in industry and earned her doctorate in engineering management from Cambridge University before joining the Dominicans. A member of the order’s Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena of KwaZulu-Natal, she teaches Catholic social doctrine, business ethics and corporate responsibility.

In a 2020, Alford said St John Paul II, who established the academy in 1994, “was really important in terms of relaunching the whole idea of Catholic social thought,” which teaches that the Gospel has clear and concrete principles for living together in a way that recognises the God-given human dignity of each person and promotes societal living that is good, just and peaceful.


Pope Francis taps Dominican Sr. Helen Alford to lead Academy of Social Sciences (By Cindy Wooden, CNS via Global Sisters Report)