Pope Francis has revealed he wants to give women more top-level positions in the Vatican and disclosed that for the first time he would name women to a previously all-male Vatican committee that helps him select the bishops for the world .
The role of women in the Vatican was one of the topics the 85-year-old pontiff discussed in an interview with Reuters published Wednesday July 6.
The Pope’s comments come after a new constitution for the Holy See’s central administration came into effect last month allowing any baptised Catholic, including lay men and women, to head most Vatican departments.
“I am open to giving (women) an opportunity,” he said in the part of the 90-minute interview that discussed the new constitution for the central administration, known as the Curia.
He mentioned that last year, for the first time, he named a woman to the number two position in the governorship of Vatican City, making Sister Raffaella Petrini the highest-ranking woman in the world’s smallest country.
“Two women will be appointed for the first time in the committee to elect bishops in the Congregation for Bishops,” he said.
The move is highly significant because women will for the first time have a say in the appointment of the world’s bishops, who are all men.
“This way, things are opening up a bit,” he said.
Francis did not name the women or say when their appointment would be announced officially.
Members of the committee, which is now made up cardinals, bishops and priests, usually meet twice a month in Rome.
Asked which other Vatican department can be headed by a lay man or woman, Francis suggested that they could include the department for Catholic Education and Culture and the Apostolic Library which are currently headed by male clerics.
Francis has already named a number of women, both nuns and lay women, to Vatican departments.
In addition, Francis has named Nathalie Becquart, a French member of the Xaviere Missionary Sisters, as co-undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, which prepares major meetings of world bishops held every few years.