Pope Francis says he will appoint women to Dicastery for Bishops

Pope Francis says he will appoint women to Dicastery for Bishops
Pope Francis with Sister Raffaella Petrini, F.S.E., the Secretary General of the Governorate of the Vatican City State. [Photo: Vatican News]

Pope Francis has announced his intention to appoint two women to the Dicastery of Bishops, who will therefore be involved in the process of choosing new bishops.

The Pope made the remarks in an interview with Reuters Senior Correspondent Philip Pullella, in response to questions about the presence of women in the Vatican; the new Apostolic Constitution Praedicate evangelium, which reforms the Curia; and about which Dicasteries (Vatican offices) could be entrusted to a lay man or woman in the future.

“I am open should an opportunity arise. Right now, the Governorate has a deputy governor…Now, two women will be going to the Congregation of Bishops, on the commission to elect bishops. In this way, things open up a little bit.”

Pope Francis then added that in the future he sees the possibility of lay people being appointed to lead certain Vatican departments such as the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, the Dicastery for Culture and Education, or the Vatican Apostolic Library.

Other notable appointments by Pope Francis include Sister Nathalie Becquart, a French member of the Xaviere Missionary Sisters, as under-secretary of the Synod of Bishops; and Sister Alessandra Smerilli, of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, as Undersecretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. 

Several other women already hold high-level positions in the Vatican, including Barbara Jatta, the first female director of the Vatican Museums; Nataša Govekar, Director of the Theological-Pastoral Office of the Dicastery for Communication; and Cristiane Murray, deputy director of the Holy See Press Office, all of whom were appointed by the current Pontiff.

Last month, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, joked that, with the promulgation of the new Constitution on the Curia, he might be the last cleric to lead that dicastery.