The greater inclusion of women in the Church is one of the great challenges of the pontificate of Francis. A new appointment is a step forward in this direction: that of Raffaella petrini, an Italian nun who has just become the highest ranking woman in the Vatican State.
Petrini, a 52-year-old Franciscan nun, was appointed secretary general of the Vatican City governorate, which means that she de facto becomes the “number two” of the smallest state entity in the world.
Her job will be similar to that of a deputy mayor over a microstate that has only about 600 citizens but more than 2,000 employees.
In his new position, Petrini will work hand in hand with the new governor, Spanish Archbishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, in overseeing the administrative operations of Vatican City, where its famous Vatican Museums are located – its main source of income. your police, your fire department or your health service.
Born in Rome in 1969, Petrini has an academic curriculum behind her. It is political scientist from the prestigious Luiss Guido Carli University in Rome and professor of Christian social doctrine at the Pontifical University of Santo Tomás de Aquino, where she received her doctorate. He entered the Vatican Curia as an officer in the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
The nun Raffaella Petrini (left) during a mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, in a file photo. Photo: REUTERS
She will work closely with another woman in an important position, the director of the Vatican Museums, Barbara Jatta, appointed by Francis in 2016.
More space for women
In recent months the Pope has pushed the election of women in Vatican departments, although in many cases they have a smaller team.
Her profile resembles that of Alessandra Smerilli, another Italian nun and teacher who was appointed in August acting secretary of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development Service and delegate of the Vatican Covid-19 Commission.
The pope also elected German professor Charlotte Kreuter-Kirchhof two weeks ago as number two on the Vatican’s Economic Council.
Another of the most powerful women is the religious Nathalie Becquart, number two of the Synod of Bishops, a body that prepares the meetings of the world’s prelates.
Pope Francis gave great impetus to the participation of women in the Church. Photo: EFE
She is the first woman with the right to vote in this body. In addition, the Catalan Núria Calduch-Benages was elected in March as the new secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and there are six women in the supervisory body of all the economic activities of the Vatican.
Changes in Canon Law
In January, in a small step towards equality for women in the Church, the Pope changed canon law to allow Catholics to read God’s word during Masses, help at the altar and distribute communion.
It is something that has already happened for years in many countries, but Francisco institutionalized it to stop more conservative bishops from banning that the women of their dioceses carry out these functions.
The Pontiff has also established a second commission to study their role in the early years of Christianity and find out if they can be deaconesses, after a first failed to reach consensus.
The female diaconate is one of the great demands of feminism in the Church, and its defenders believe that it would help women to have more prominence while providing a service in the parts of the world where there is a lack of priests.
However, Bergoglio definitively closed the door for women to be ordained priests.
Source: La Vanguardia