Francis appoints seven women to historically all-male Curia

Seven women are among the new members Pope Francis appointed to the Roman Curia’s all-male Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

This is the first time women have been appointed to these Vatican departments.

The women will also, for the first time, be able to have a say over the direction of a Vatican department with a remit that includes the life of religious sisters.

Six of those appointed to the Vatican boards are the superiors general of religious orders. The seventh is from a lay background.

The appointees are:

  • Kathleen Appler – Daughters of Charity
  • Yvonne Reungoat – Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (Salesian Sisters)
  • Françoise Massy – Franciscan Missionaries of Mary
  • Luigia Coccia – Comboni Missionary Sisters
  • Simona Brambilla – Consolata Missionary Sisters
  • M. Rita Calvo Sanz – Order of the Company of Mary Our Lady
  • Olga Krizova – general president of the Don Bosco Secular Volunteer Institute

The women’s appointments to executive posts in the Vatican Curia follow other surprise appointments Francis announced recently.

In May he appointed the first women consultors to the secretariat of the Synod of Bishops which, under his pontificate, has become a crucial vehicle for setting the Church’s pastoral agenda.

A month earlier, in an historic decision, he appointed three women as consultants to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

This was reported as being part of his ongoing effort to give a greater role to women in the work of the Roman Curia offices, the central administration of the Catholic church.

The latest appointments, however, give the women executive rather than solely consultative roles.

Other appointments to the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life are:

  • Brother Robert I. Schieler, superior of the De La Salle Christian Brothers
  • Priests who are superiors general of the Jesuits, the Discalced Carmelites, the Augustinians, the Scalabrinians, the Capuchins and the abbot president of the Subiaco Cassinese Benedictine Congregation
  • Five bishops and four cardinals: Cardinals Angelo De Donatis, papal vicar for Rome; Kevin J. Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life; Luis Ladaria Ferrer, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and Ricardo Blazquez Perez of Valladolid, Spain.

While the soon-to-be-replaced 1988 apostolic constitution regulating the Roman Curia says the ordinary members of a congregation are cardinals and bishops, it also says “according to the specific nature of certain dicasteries:

“… clerics and other faithful can be added to the body of cardinals and bishops.”

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