From now on, women will have a say in the appointment of bishops

The current Pontiff has made several other appointments of women to high-ranking administrative positions.

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Pope Francis has spearheaded some sweeping reforms in the Vatican Church that have opened the door for women to play a role in the seat of Catholic power. Although women cannot rise in the religious hierarchy of the Catholic Church, they will, for the first time, have a say in the appointment of bishops – who are all men.
Although it has not yet been officially announced, the pope revealed in an interview with Reuters that, “Two women will be appointed for the first time to the committee responsible for electing bishops to the Congregation for Bishops.”

He did not say which women could be appointed to the committee, which includes cardinals, bishops and priests, or when the announcement would be made official. However, the presence of women in one of the highest decision-making bodies is a significant step forward in the rather orthodox religious organization. This image of the Catholic Church is one that Pope Francis has tried to change.

His tenure was marked by more openness towards not only women but also homosexuals. He has previously supported same-sex “civil unions” calling for their right to be in a family. As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he did not support same-sex marriage, but supported legal protection for those who chose such living conditions.

Although his earlier comments appeared to do a flip-flop on homosexuality, his more conciliatory approach divided people, with liberals welcoming his remarks, disgruntled conservatives and analysts observing that real change would only come when legal protections are in place. granted in church doctrine and that homosexual behavior would no longer be considered a “sin”.

Additionally, in the context of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on abortion, Pope condemned the practice and likened it to “hiring a hitman to solve a problem.”

Meanwhile, as long as representation of women is concerned, Pope Francis, during his 9-year tenure, has certainly paved the way for more opportunities in the Vatican.
In March 2022, it approved a new constitution for the central Vatican administration known as the Curia. The new constitution replaced the founding constitution of Saint John Paul II, which was written in 1988. One of its major reforms was to allow any baptized lay man and woman to lead any of the Vatican ministries. In a big change from positions of power held only by male clergy, the preamble to the new constitution that was adopted on June 5 says, “The pope, bishops, and other ordained ministers are not the only evangelizers of the Church”. Another section of the constitution reads: “Any faithful member may lead a dicastery (department of the curia) or body.”

When asked during the Reuters interview which Vatican departments could be headed by a member of the public as opposed to the clergy, he said those positions could be erased in the Department of Catholic Education and Culture. and in the apostolic library.

Last year, Pope Francis appointed Sister Raffaella Petrini, to the number two position in the Governorate of Vatican City, which oversees Vatican offices and residences in Vatican City State as well as Rome. Petrini is the first woman to hold this position.

The current Pontiff has made several other appointments of women to high-ranking administrative positions. In January 2020, Francesca di Giovanni was appointed Undersecretary for the Multilateral Sector in the Relations with States and International Organizations Section of the Secretary of State, another first.

Sister Nathalie Becquart, Sister Alessandra Smerilli, Sister Carmen Ros Nortes are other women who have been appointed to important positions.

Despite the progress made so far, women have traditionally never been ordained and cannot become priests, bishops or popes in the Catholic Church. The Anglican Church, however, set a precedent by ordaining female bishops.

Jerry B. Hatch