First woman on Vatican congregation surprised at appointment

The first woman to be appointed to a Vatican congregation sees the move as a realisation of Pope Francis’s wish for more women in official Church positions.

Sr Luzia Premoli, superior general of the Combonian Missionary Sisters, was appointed a member of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples on September 13.

She told the Catholic News Agency that this took her by surprise.

“I did not expect it . . . but I was also joyful, because the appointment is a concretisation of Pope Francis’s wish for more women in high ranking positions in the Catholic Church,” Sr Premoli said.

The Brazilian native added that her appointment “shows Pope Francis’s commitment” to having more women as decision-makers in the ranks of the Church.

While women have already served in the Vatican, as consultants or under-secretaries and members of pontifical councils, there had never been a woman appointed as a member of a congregation, the higher ranking departments of the Roman curia, the CNA article stated.

Sr Premoli spent eight years as a missionary in Mozambique, and another eight in her homeland.

As a missionary, she was impressed that “in the midst of tragedies, women always carried their children on their shoulders, and that children were quiet and calm, as though the mother’s touch let them feel protected”.

Motherhood is a contribution women can give to Church’s life, Sr Premoli told CNA.

“The Church is called ‘mother’, and a mother must bear the announcement of this full and joyful life Jesus has given us.”

She underscored that “although the Church has given an organisation with almost exclusively men in the top ranks, the communities are full of women that give their personal contribution to the life of the Church”.

The biggest contribution women can give to Church’s life is “the way women gaze at things, and their being heartfelt”.

“Women have this peculiar passion, which probably comes from their being capable of maternity,” Sr Premoli explained.

Her missionary experience also showed a sharp contrast between throwaway cultures of plenty and poorer societies where even small scraps of cloth or soap are considered valuable.

Among the other appointees to the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples on September 13 was Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy.


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