Sacred Heart professor named to Pontifical Biblical Commission

Mary Healy, Ph.D.

Mary Healy, Ph.D.

Detroit  — Mary Healy, Ph.D., associate professor of sacred Scripture at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, was named to the Pontifical Biblical Commission, an advisory body serving the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

Named to the commission Oct. 20, Healy is one of three women appointed to the 20-member commission — the first women ever assigned these roles, which are held for a five-year term.

“I hope and pray that I will be led by the Holy Spirit in whatever I say, and will make whatever contribution the Lord wants me to make,” Healy told The Michigan Catholic in an Oct. 28 interview.

She said she was surprised by her appointment, “but glad of it.”

Pope Francis had appointed the new members and renewed the mandate of previous members on Oct. 18.

The new commission will serve from 2014 to 2019.

The commission meets once a year for a week every April to discuss a particular topic, from which the commission produces a document.

The commission’s documents have addressed topics including interpretation of the Bible, unity and diversity in the Church and the historicity of the Gospels.

“Part of my work in biblical studies has been seeking to overcome what Pope Benedict XVI calls the split between biblical exegesis and faith,” said Healy. “A lot of biblical interpretation over the last couple of generations has been done in isolation from faith and from theology.”

Healy added that unfortunately, faith has even been considered “a bias that distorts interpretation, rather than what it actually is — a light that illumines the word of God.”

She said that excellent work has already been done to renew correct biblical interpretation along the lines that Pope Benedict described, but that still more is needed.

“I hope to bring a theological perspective, a pastoral perspective, a deeper awareness that the work of biblical scholarship is to serve the Church, as well as to emphasize the role of the Holy Spirit,” said Healy.

She believes that Catholics are “hungry” for the word of God, “although many don’t know it.”

“There’s a famine for the word of God, and part of the reason is incomplete or misguided approaches to biblical exegesis,” she said. “So there is need for a renewal in biblical interpretation, which is absolutely crucial to the renewal of the whole Church.”

Msgr. Todd Lajiness, rector of Sacred Heart Major Seminary, said that the appointment is “a great honor for Dr. Healy and also for the seminary. The appointment increases our connection to universal conversations within the Church.”

“Not only is Dr. Healy an accomplished Scripture scholar and a superb teacher, but all of her work originates from a deep faith,” said Msgr. Lajiness. “We celebrate her appointment and thank God for all of the talented faculty members here at the seminary.”

He also requested prayers for Healy as she begins this new assignment.

Healy is the fifth Sacred Heart Major Seminary faculty member who serves or had recently served on a council or commission of the Holy See.

The other faculty members are Janet Smith, Edward Peters and Ralph Martin — all of whom currently serve – as well as Fr. John McDermott, SJ, whose term with the commission has ended.

The Pontifical Biblical Commission was founded in 1902, and since 1971 has served the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. The 2014-2019 commission includes a number of priests, religious and laypeople.