Pope to Appoint First Women to Bishop Selection Committee

By Marisa Dellatto

Pope Francis said he plans to appoint the first women in history to a Vatican committee that helps to select bishops, in a Wednesday interview with Reuters, a month after he amended the constitution for the Vatican Curia to allow any baptized Catholics, men or women, to lead some departments in the high church.

Key Facts

  • Pope Francis said two women will “be appointed for the first time in the committee to elect bishops in the Congregation for Bishops,” which helps him select all-male bishops around the world, though he did not name specific candidates. 
  • Francis said last year he named Sister Raffaella Petrini to the no. 2 position in Vatican City’s governorship. 
  • Francis suggested lay women or men could lead the department for Catholic Education and Culture and the Apostolic Library, which are currently led by clergymen.

Crucial Quote

“I am open to giving [women] an opportunity,” the holy leader said. “This way, things are opening up a bit.”

Key Background

In March, Pope Francis introduced a new constitution for the Vatican which reformed the administrative side of the Vatican, known as the Curia. The new document replaced a constitution that was put in place by Pope John Paul II in 1988. Francis’ new doctrine, “Praedicate Evangelium,” or “Preach the Gospel,” was released nine years after he became pope, and came into effect in May. In addition to allowing lay Catholics, not just Cardinals or other clergymen, to hold key positions, the reforms lessened the number of departments in the Curia. 

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Pope Francis denied rumors he plans to resign soon, as talk has swirled for months over his health and travel plans. In the same interview with Reuters, the pope’s stance against abortion remained steady, despite his willingness to include more women in Vatican leadership, and compared the procedure to “hiring a hit man.”

Further Reading


Image: AFP via Getty Images

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