Pope picks six women for ‘all-male’ Vatican posts

Pope Francis has attempted to right the gender balance in senior Vatican posts, appointing six women to traditionally all-male Vatican roles at the Vatican Council for the Economy.

In addition to the women, the only layman named to the council was Alberto Minali, a former executive at Italian insurance companies.

Statutes for the Council, which Francis approved in 2015, say the Council will have 15 members. These include eight cardinals or bishops and seven laypeople. Each person serves a five-year term.

The original seven all-male lay members had experience in business, finance or government.

The women’s appointments to one of the Holy See’s most important offices mark Francis’s latest attempt to keep promises to improve gender balance, which women’s groups have said were too slow in being realised.

So far Francis has appointed women to a variety of roles. These include a female deputy foreign minister, a female director of the Vatican Museums, and a female deputy head of the Vatican Press Office.

The six women include

  • Leslie Jane Ferrar, Prince Charles’s former treasurer,
  • Charlotte Kreuter-Kirchhof, a German professor of law,
  • Marija Kolak, president of Germany’s national association of cooperative banks,
  • Maria Concepcion Osacar Garaicoechea, a Spaniard and founding partner of the Azora Group and president of the Board of Azora Capital and Azora Gestion,
  • Eva Castillo Sanz, former president of Merrill Lynch Spain and Portugal, and
  • Ruth Maria Kelly, a former banking executive, former member of Parliament and former secretary of education in Great Britain.

In addition, he has appointed four women as councillors to the Synod of Bishops, which prepares major meetings.

Francis has also named the eight cardinals on the Council.

He has renewed German Cardinal Reinhard Marx’s mandate as “cardinal coordinator” and that of South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier.

The new cardinals and bishops named to the Council are: Cardinals Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary; Odilo Pedro Scherer of Sao Paulo; Gerald Lacroix of Quebec; Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey; Anders Arborelius of Stockholm; and Archbishop Giuseppe Petrocchi of L’Aquila, Italy.

The Council is “responsible for supervising the administrative and financial structures and activities of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, of the institutions connected to or referring to the Holy See and of the administrations” falling under the governorate of Vatican City State.


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