Gender progress at the Vatican

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Pope Francis appoints women to high positions
By Jerry Brownstein
In his latest show of support for improved gender equality, Pope Francis has appointed two women to Vatican posts that had previously only been held by men. These appointments at the beginning of 2021 were his boldest moves yet in giving women more empowerment in the male-dominated Holy See. Nathalie Becquart was named as co-undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, with the right to vote in the assemblies of bishops. Francis Summaria became the first woman Promoter of Justice in the Vatican’s Court of Appeals.

Pope Francis has made gradual progress in his efforts to have women and lay people play a greater role in the church. In 2020 he appointed six women to senior roles on the council that oversees Vatican finances. He has also named women to the posts of deputy foreign minister, director of the Vatican Museums and deputy head of the Vatican Press Office. Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary general of the synod, said: “The Pope has signalled his desire for a greater participation of women in the process of discernment and decision-making. A door has been opened and we will see what other steps can be taken.”


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