Women priests possible says new top female Vatican official

Ordaining women to the priesthood and opening top roles in the Vatican bureaucracy to women are both possible scenarios, says an appointee to the Vatican Council for the Economy.

Law professor Charlotte Kreuter-Kirchhof (pictured), who was recently appointed by Pope Francis as a member of the high-level group that oversees the Vatican’s finances, says in her view “very much is possible in this area.”

“But there are heated debates going on in the church about this at the moment.”

A Duesseldorf-based professor, Kreuter-Kirchhof is one of six women Francis named as members of the Vatican’s Council for the Economy last week. They are the first women in these top roles in the Vatican bureaucracy.

She says her appointment to the Council is a “clear sign of the desired cooperation between bishops, priests and laypeople and of the cooperation between men and women.”

Council membership reflects a togetherness that is preparing the church for the future, she says.

Francis created the group in 2014 to supervise the financial activities of both the Vatican city-state and the offices of the Holy See.

Besides Kreuter-Kirchhof, the other new Council members her compatriot Marija Kolak, who is the chair of the National Association of German Cooperative Banks.

The other four women Francis appointed to the Council last week from Spain and the United Kingdom. Besides these, the Council includes one layman, an Italian, and eight prelates.

German Cardinal Reinhard Marx is the Council’s leader.

In addition to her top role in the Vatican bureaucracy, Kreuter-Kirchhof, is the chair of the Hildegardis Association, which supports women in academic education and job training.

She says she is noticing encouraging signs of women’s leadership in the German church.

“In many dioceses women are taking on central leadership tasks and making a substantial contribution to the future viability of our church.”


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