Pope Francis waves during his weekly general audience in the Paul VI Hall in the Vatican on October 14, 2020.

Alberto Pizzoli | AFP | Getty Images

Pope Francis on Saturday issued a new constitution for the Vatican’s central administration known as the Curia, which states that any baptized lay Catholic, including women, can head the Vatican branches.

Most Vatican departments were headed by male clergy, usually cardinals. It took more than nine years to complete the new 54-page constitution called Praedicate Evangelium (Preach the Gospel).

It will take effect on June 5, replacing one approved by Pope John Paul II in 1988.

A section of the constitution’s preamble says, “The Pope, bishops, and other ordained ministers are not the only evangelizers in the church,” adding that lay men and women “should have a government role and responsibility.”

The principles section of the constitution says that “any member of the faithful can lead a dicastery (Curia branch) or organism” if the Pope decides who are qualified and appoints them. No distinction is made between lay men and lay women.

The 1988 constitution stated that wards were to be headed by a cardinal or a bishop and assisted by a secretary, experts and administrators.

In a 2018 interview with Reuters, the pope revealed that he had a woman shortlisted to head an economics department at the Vatican, but that she was unable to take the job due to personal reasons.

Last year, Francis for the first time appointed a woman to the second position in the governorship of Vatican City, making Sister Raffaella Petrini the tallest woman in the world’s smallest state.

Also last year, he appointed the Italian nun, Sister Alessandra Smerilli, to the interim position of secretary of the Vatican’s development agency, which deals with justice and peace issues.

In addition, Francis has appointed Nathalie Becquart, a French member of the Xaviere Missionary Sisters, as co-undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, a department that prepares the assemblies of world bishops held every few years.


This post Pope Decrees Any Baptized Lay Catholic, Including Women, May Lead Vatican Branches was original published at “https://www.cnbc.com/2022/03/19/pope-rules-any-baptized-lay-catholic-including-women-can-head-vatican-departments.html”

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