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Sr M. Isabell Naumann meets Pope Francis in November 2017 (Vatican Media)

Men may have predominantly overseen the academic domain of theology and key committees in the Church but women – such as Sydney-based Schoenstatt Sister of Mary, Sr. M. Isabell Naumann, have an essential role to play. Source: Vatican News.

“All of my predecessors were priests and bishops,” Sr M. Isabell said, referring to her appointment as president of the Catholic Institute of Sydney. The institute is Australia’s only ecclesiastical faculty, which confers Pontifical degrees in Sacred Theology. 

Sr M. Isabell Naumann, a German-born member of the Secular Institute of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary (ISSM), was appointed President of the Catholic Institute of Sydney in 2018 by Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP.

In 2021, Sr M. Isabell was called by Pope Francis to be a member of the International Theological Commission (ITC).

The ITC’s task is to help the Holy See, especially the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, examine doctrinal questions of major importance.

Sr M. Isabell is one of the few women in the commission. 

“We are only five women, and we are all together a group of 29,” she said.

In her opinion, there should be a stronger presence of women in such commissions like the ITC. She finds this important, “so that you have more complementary thinking”.

“It is very important because we might deal with the same topic, but you have different ways of approaching the topic, and in my eyes that is a very important complement, and that needs to come together when you deal with anything in theology,” she said.

Having worked in ecclesial circles for many years, she has come to appreciate the unique contribution that women have to give to the Church. 

The Marian Charism of the community of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary places a particular emphasis on helping women embrace and develop their unique feminine identity and thus enrich society and the Church.


A religious sister in theology’s halls of power (By Sr Francine-Marie Cooper, ISSM, Vatican News)