Pope Francis announces appointment of women to committee selecting new bishops

The new constitution, titled Preaching the gospel (“Preach the Gospel”), provides that any member of the faithful can also lead a Vatican dicastery or other bodies, “given their particular competence, power of governance and function.”

Asked which Vatican department could perhaps be headed by a lay man or woman, Francis suggested that they could include the department for Catholic Education and Culture and the Apostolic Library, according to Reuters.

The ultimate decision in appointing bishops rests with the pope, and he is free to select anyone he chooses. Usually, the pope’s representative in a country, the apostolic nuncio, passes on recommendations and documentation to the Vatican. The Dicastery of Bishops then discusses the appointment in a further process and takes a vote. On being presented with the recommendations, the pope finally makes the decision.

Francis has already named several women to Vatican departments. Barbara Jatta, a wife and mother of three children, was appointed director of the Vatican Museum in 2016 and took the reins in 2017.

More recently, the pope appointed Sr. Nathalie Becquart in February 2021 as under-secretary to the Synod on Bishops. Working with and under Cardinal Mario Grech, the French religious sister has been helping prepare the Vatican’s synod on synodality, scheduled for October 2022.

According to Cardinal Grech, Becquart will vote in future synods alongside other voting members, who are bishops, priests, and some religious men.

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