Pope Francis appoints three women to the Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops: Sr. Raffaella Petrini, F.S.E., Secretary General of the Governorate of the Vatican City State; Sr. Yvonne Reungoat, F.M.A, former Superior General of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians; and, Dr. Maria Lia Zervino, President of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations.
Pope Francis on Wednesday named three women to the Dicastery for Bishops, the first time women have been appointed to the Dicastery responsible for identifying future bishops globally.
The Holy See Press Office published the Pope’s latest appointments to the Dicastery in a statement on Wednesday.
The female members are Sister Raffaella Petrini, F.S.E., Secretary General of the Governorate of the Vatican City State; Sister Yvonne Reungoat, F.M.A, former Superior General of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians; and, Dr. Maria Lia Zervino, President of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations.
The nomination of Dr. Zervino also marks the first appointment ever of a laywoman to the Vatican Dicastery.
Pope Francis says he will appoint women to Dicastery for Bishops
As part of his interview with the Senior Correspondent Philip Pullella from the Reuters news agency, published on Wednesday 6 July, Pope Francis shared his plans to expand the role of women in the Roman Curia, and announced his intention to appoint two women to the Dicastery that assists the Pontiff in the selection of bishops.
The Pope made the remarks 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.
Women in the Curia
Earlier, in January 2020, the Pope had named Francesca di Giovanni as Undersecretary for the multilateral sector in the Secretariat 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 Undersecretary 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. Sister Carmen Ros Nortes serves as Undersecretary of the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
Several other lay women already hold high-level positions in the Vatican, including Barbara Jatta, the first female director of the Vatican Museums; Linda Ghisoni and Gabriella Gambino, both Undersecretaries in the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life; and Emilce Cuda, Secretary for the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.
In the Dicastery for Communication, Nataša Govekar serves as Director of the Theological-Pastoral Office of the Dicastery for Communication; while Cristiane Murray holds the position of deputy director of the Holy See Press Office.
All of the above 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.
Full list of nominations
Here is the full list of the Pope’s appointments as Dicastery members:
- Cardinal Anders Arborelius, OCD, Bishop of Stockholm (Sweden)
- Cardinal Jose F. Advincula, Archbishop of Manila (Philippines)
- Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça, Archivist and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church
- Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops
- Cardinal Arthur Roche, Prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
- Cardinal-elect Lazzaro You Heung-sik, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Clergy
- Cardinal-elect Jean-Marc Aveline, Archbishop of Marseille (France)
- Cardinal-elect Oscar Cantoni, Bishop of Como (Italy)
- Archbishop Dražen Kutleša, Archbishop of Split-Makarska (Croatia)
- Bishop Paul Desmond Tighe, Secretary of the former Pontifical Council for Culture
- Father Dom Donato Ogliari OSB, Abbot of the Abbey of San Paolo fuori le Mura and Apostolic Administrator of the Territorial Abbey of Montecassino (Italy)
- Sister Raffaella Petrini, FSE, Secretary General of the Governorate of the Vatican City State
- Sister Yvonne Reungoat, FMA, former Superior General of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians
- Doctor Maria Lia Zervino, President of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations
Vatican News and Deborah Castellano Lubov – Pope names three women to Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops