Pope Francis with Sister Raffaella Petrini, F.S.E., the Secretary General of the Governorate of the Vatican City State

By Vatican News

July 7 2022

In the third part of his interview with the Reuters news agency, Pope Francis shares his plans to expand the role of women in the Roman Curia, and announces his intention to appoint two women to the Dicastery that assists the Pontiff in the selection of bishops.

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.

The Holy Father recalled that last year he appointed Sister Raffaella Petrini, to the number two position in the Vatican City Governorate, making her the first woman to hold the position.

Earlier, in January 2020, the Pope had named Francesca di Giovanni as Undersecretary for the multilateral sector in the Secetariat of State’s Section for Relations with States and International Organizations, another first. 

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.

Vatican News