The appointment of two women to the Vatican committee that chooses bishops has been announced by Pope Francis

The appointment of two women to the Vatican committee that chooses bishops has been announced by Pope Francis

Sr. Alessandra Smerilli (second from left) and Sr. Nathalie Becquart (third from left) pose with Pope Francis and others during the youth synod in 2018. / Daniel Ibáñez / CNA

The appointment of two women to the Vatican committee that chooses bishops has been announced by Pope Francis.

The pope stated that “two women will be nominated for the first time on the committee to pick bishops in the Congregation for Bishops” in remarks to Reuters that were published on Wednesday.”

Francis stated that he was “open to providing [women] an opportunity” in the Vatican interview from July 2.

He did not name the women or specify when their appointment would be made public “and desired to “open up a bit” the situation.

In accordance with the new constitution that serves as the foundation for Pope Francis’ reform of the Vatican, the Congregation of Bishops, a division of the Roman Curia, has changed its name to the Dicastery for Bishops.

Any member of the faithful is permitted to serve as the head of a Vatican dicastery or other organizations, “given their unique competence, power of governance, and function,” according to the new constitution, Praedicate evangelium (“Preach the Gospel”).

According to Reuters, when asked which Vatican division might be run by a layperson, Francis proposed the Apostolic Library and the department for Catholic Education and Culture.

The pope has the final say in choosing bishops, and he is allowed to choose anybody he wants.

The apostolic nuncio, who represents the pope in a nation, typically transmits advice and supporting evidence to the Vatican.

After further discussion and voting, the Dicastery of Bishops approves the nomination.

The choice is finally made by the pope after hearing the suggestions.

Francis has already appointed a number of women to various Vatican positions.

The Vatican Museum’s director since 2017, Barbara Jatta, a married mother of three, accepted the position in 2016.

In February 2021, Sr. Nathalie Becquart was appointed by the pope to serve as the Synod on Bishops’ undersecretary.

The French nun has been assisting Cardinal Mario Grech in preparing the Vatican for the synod on synodality, which is slated to take place in October 2022.

Becquart will participate in future synods as a voting member alongside bishops, priests, and other religious men, according to Cardinal Grech.

Pope Francis appointed Italian economist and nun Alessandra Smerilli to the position of secretary of the Vatican’s office for social development in August 2021.

Professor and economist, the Salesian sister. She was a key player in the event’s planning for the 2020 Economy of Francesco.

Smerilli has also worked as a consultant for the Synod of Bishops secretariat as a councilor for the Vatican City State since 2019.

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