Pope Francis said that he will nominate women to a formerly all-male Vatican committee that assists him in selecting the world’s bishops and that he wanted to offer women additional top-level roles in the Holy See. The status of women in the Vatican hierarchy was one of several Church and world themes covered by the 85-year-old pontiff in an exclusive interview with Reuters on July 2 at his Vatican apartment. A new constitution for the Holy See’s central administration, which went into effect last month, permits any baptized Catholic, including lay men and women, to lead most Vatican ministries.
According to Reuters, Pope remarked in a 90-minute interview about the new constitution for the central administration, known as the Curia, ‘I am open to providing (women) an opportunity’. He added that last year, for the first time, he appointed a woman to the number two post in the government of Vatican City, making Sister Raffaella Petrini the highest-ranking woman in the world’s smallest state.
‘Two women will be chosen for the first time in the Congregation for Bishops’ committee to pick bishops,’ he stated, as cited by Reuters. The decision, which has yet to be officially announced, is significant because it will give women a voice in the nomination of the world’s bishops, who are all males, for the first time.
Pope Francis did not name the women or explain when their appointment will be made public. Members of the group, which is currently made up of cardinals, bishops, and priests, normally convene in Rome twice a month. When asked if additional Vatican departments may be led by a layperson or woman, Pope Francis mentioned the Department of Catholic Education and Culture and the Apostolic Library. They are now led by male clergy. Pope Francis has already appointed a number of women, both nuns and laywomen, to Vatican positions.