Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation

Ten years of Francis' pontificate, where are the women?

Aleteia 09.03.2023 Anna Kurian Translated by: Jpic-jp.org

And after two years of synodal journey! For International Women's Day on 8 March, the Vatican media released statistics on women’s presence in the Vatican on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Francis' pontificate. Although their presence is slightly increasing (23% of employees), only 5% of women hold positions of high responsibility. On the same day, the Pope signed the preface to the book "More female leadership for a better world" (Vita e Pensiero), in which he expressed concern about possible "backward steps" in women's rights.

Since his election, "Pope Francis has increased the presence, visibility and influence of women in the Vatican," says Austrian journalist Gudrun Sailer in an article published in Vatican News. According to figures published by the Holy See, the Vatican now has a total of 1,165 female employees - up from 846 at the start of the pontificate in 2013. Their proportion has risen from 19.2 to 23.4%. And in the Roman Curia, more than one in four employees is a woman (these representing 812 employees out of 3,114 in total).

19% of women in the Vatican

In 2022, 43% of the women employed in the Curia were working at the 6th and 7th levels of the hierarchical scale. The hierarchy has 10 levels, the lowest being level 1. And some have reached the management levels, five of them being under-secretaries. Alessandra Smerilli, who holds the highest office ever given to a woman in the Vatican, is the number 2 of the Service of Integral Human Development dicastery.

Although the appointment of female experts within the Curia began under Paul VI, Gudrun Sailer points out, Francis has taken a step forward by making it possible to appoint lay people to head dicasteries in the 2022 apostolic constitution Praedicate Evangelium. Women can now become "prefects."

In an interview with the Spanish newspaper ABC published on 17 December 2022, Pope Francis announced that he would appoint a woman to head a dicastery "that will be vacant within two years." He said that there was "no obstacle to a woman guiding a dicastery where a lay person can be prefect." It should be noted that currently less than 5% of all leadership roles in the Curia are held by women.

In the Vatican City State, where the proportion of women has remained stable (19%), the Argentine pontiff has appointed two women to leadership positions: Barbara Jatta, director of the Vatican Museums since 2016, and Sister Raffaella Petrini, secretary general of the Governorate since 2022.

Gudrun Sailer notes that Pope Francis is the first Pope to appoint women as members of Curia bodies, giving them the right to vote, which until now has been reserved for prelates. For the journalist, in these positions, they can "influence the Vatican while maintaining their independence."

Since 2020, six women - out of 15 members - have joined the Council for the Economy. Another notable initiative: in 2022, Pope Francis appointed two nuns and a laywoman as members of the dicastery for bishops. However, the 86-year-old pontiff has repeatedly urged that women's mission not be reduced to a purely functional aspect.

Patriarchal and macho oppression

"I am particularly concerned about issues related to the female world," Pope Francis confides in the preface to a book of academic research promoted by the Centesimus Annus pro Pontifice foundation and published for the international day. The Pope is concerned that the "path of feminine affirmation" is "tormented", "not definitive", and that "it is easy to take steps backwards." He wants "equal opportunities for men and women", and for women "to be paid on an equal footing with men in terms of role, commitment and responsibility", calling the disparities a "grave injustice."

However, for the Pontiff, parity must be achieved "in diversity, not because women assume masculine behaviour." In fact, he argued, "women think differently from men." Women are "more attentive to the protection of the environment", he said.

The Pope considers that it is women who "bring harmony", and that women "always want peace". Since women "always want peace" they can express "both strength and tenderness" and "know how to inspire the new generations - not only their children", and that "women make the world more beautiful."

The head of the Catholic Church condemned violence against women, seeing it as "a culture of patriarchal and macho oppression." He urged "not to leave women alone", deploring that "even today, some 130 million girls in the world do not go to school."

Referring to International Women's Day, also during the general audience on 8 March, Pope Francis had a thought "for all women." He added: "I thank them for their commitment to building a more human society, through their ability to grasp reality with a creative eye and a tender heart. This ability is "a privilege" of women, the Pontiff said, before inviting the crowd in the square to applaud the women, who "deserve it."

Photo. Pope_Francis_greets_a_woman_after_the_general_audience_Jan_8_2020_Credit_Vatican_Media-e1581000056454

See, Dix ans de pontificat de François, où sont les femmes ?

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The comments from our readers (2)

Paul Attard 21.03.2023 A pity the West is not doing more to support the brave women in Iran who are protesting at their inhuman government.
Dario P 30.03.2023 Penso piu al dopo Francesco e alla continuazione del suo messaggio ..di come si sviluppera' per il futuro..