April 6, 2004

Pope John Paul II has appointed Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard Law School professor, to serve as president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, making her the highest ranking laywoman in the Vatican. Glendon, 65, who teaches and writes on human rights, comparative constitutional law and legal theory, has been a member of the academy founded by the pope in 1994 to advise the Vatican on social concerns and promote research aimed at improving society. The Vatican announced Glendon’s appointment March 9 following the news three days earlier that for the first time since its creation in 1969, two female theologians will serve on the International Theological Commission, an advisory body attached to the Vatican’s doctrinal arm. One is Sister Sara Butler, a member of the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity, who teaches dogmatic theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois.

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America has appointed its first chaplain—Ignacio Castuera, a United Methodist minister from Los Angeles—who will in effect be the New York–based organization’s national spokesperson to “articulate the spiritual dimensions of sexuality and reproduction.” Castuera is the senior pastor of St. John’s United Methodist Church in the Watts community of Los Angeles. Known for his abortion rights advocacy, Castuera has led the Latina Outreach Project of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood, said Castuera will advise the staff on moral and ethical issues and seek to expand relations with religious leaders.