With the ‘blessing’ of Pope Francis, who has appointed women to senior positions in almost all of the Holy See’s offices, the participation of women in the Vatican’s decision-making structures has grown by almost 70% in recent years, according to figures published August 8 by Argentinian national news agency Télam.

– Vatican finances, communications, international relations… Francis conferring on women ever more important responsibilities

Since his inauguration in 2013, Francis has open the Holy See’s hierarchical structure to the participation of women in areas such as the management of the economy, communications, relations with multilateral organisations and the management of the Vatican Museums.

Just this August 6, the appointment of six women as lay experts of the Holy See’s Council for the Economy, which brings together the Vatican’s entire economic structure, confirmed Francis’ openness to greater female participation in Church decision-making structures.

On Thursday the Pope named two British, two Spanish and two German laywomen to the Council charged with overseeing the economic management and administrative and financial activities of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and of the other institutions connected to the Holy See and the Vatican City State.

– Total number of women working in the Vatican now over 1,000, an increase of 45% in a decade

According to statistics seen by Télam, the number of women in positions in the Roman Curia rose from 385 in 2010 to 649 as of December 31, 2019, an increase of almost 70% in less than a decade.

In absolute terms, the number of women working in the Holy See rose from 697 in 2010 to 1,016 by the end of 2019, an increase of just over 45%.

The new nods to the laywomen in the Council for the Economy have come in addition to a series of other appointments of women by Francis to important posts in Rome.

This year, the Pope also appointed Italian Antonella Sciarrone Alibrandi to the board of the Financial Information Authority (AIF) – the Holy See’s anti-money-laundering institution – and put Raffaella Vincenti in charge of the Apostolic Library.

At the beginning of 2020, the Italian laywoman Francesca Di Giovanni was appointed to a top position in the Secretariat of State, where she manages Vatican relationships with multilateral organisations.

A jurist by profession who has worked in Rome since 1993, Di Giovanni is the first woman to have a leadership role in the Secretariat of State headed by Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican equivalent of a Prime Minister.

Di Giovanni is also the first woman with real authority over the bishops who work in the Secretariat of State and over those who are assigned as Vatican observers to international bodies.

In another important position in the Vatican since 2017, meanwhile – that of director of the Vatican Museums – is the Italian Barbara Jatta, while Brazilian Cristiane Murray has been deputy director of the Holy See Press Office since mid-2019, both with Francis’ blessing.

Another woman with a high position within the Holy See’s media structure, also appointed by the current Pope, is Natasha Govekar, 44, from Slovenia, who since 2016 has been the director of the theological-pastoral department of the Secretariat for Communication.

Other women wielding real power in the Vatican include Argentinean Silvina Pérez, the editor of the weekly Spanish edition of the Vatican’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, since 2015; Italian nun Alessandra Smerilli, who has been an economic advisor to the Pope since 2019; and Mariella Enoc, the director since 2015 of the Vatican’s pediatric hospital, the Bambino Gesù,

(With reporting by Télam)

More on Novena on women in the Church:

Pope names six laywomen experts to Vatican Council for the Economy

Novena exclusive interview by Brussels contributor Angele Bucyte: Ex-director of EU Gender Equality Institute says more women in Vatican leadership “a good step forward” but more needed

Novena guest article: Opinion: “It is time for the Pope to apologise for the patriarchal sexism that has excluded women”

German theologian claims ‘Querida Amazonia’ seeks to end “clerical monopoly”, clear way for women cardinals


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