Women will now advise the pope on the appointment of bishops
This development comes in response to calls to break up the all-male clerical hierarchy of the Holy See.
Raffaella Petrini, Secretary General of the Governorate of Vatican City, is one of the first three women appointed to the Dicastery. She is seen here with Pope Francis on November 5, 2021.
Pope Francis on Wednesday appointed three women, two nuns and a layperson, to the dicastery for bishops, a previously all-male committee, which advises it in the selection of bishops around the world, the Vatican announced on Wednesday.
The pontiff had revealed the decision in an exclusive interview with Reuters earlier this month, explaining that he wanted to give women more high-level positions in the Holy See.
The three women are Sister Raffaella Petrini, currently Secretary General of the Governorate of Vatican City, French nun Yvonne Reungoat, who was Superior General of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, and laywoman Maria Lia Zervino, President of the Union world of Catholic women's organizations.
The members of the dicastery, which include cardinals, bishops and now women, meet periodically to evaluate the proposed new bishops whose names are transmitted by Vatican ambassadors.
These ambassadors usually nominate three candidates for each opening after consultation with local church members.
The pope can circumvent the proposed candidates. But the addition of women in the process is nonetheless significant and a response to calls to break up the all-male clerical hierarchy of the Holy See.
The Doctrine of the The Church reserves the priesthood for men, since the apostles of Christ were men. Women have often complained of having second-class status in the Church.
With information from Reuters, and Associated Press