Women in the Church –Women in the Vatican
A couple of months ago, I pointed to the increasing disjunction between the roles and opportunities available to women in the broader secular world, on the one hand, and the roles and opportunities available to them in the church. I think this is bound to affect both the degree to which women engage themselves in work for or in or through the church, and the way in which the church’s pronouncements on matters pertaining to women are received in broader secular liberal democracies.
Here’s a another little factoid. According to John Allen, there aren’t a whole lot of women in leadership roles in the Vatican. He writes:
Like any book by a good reporter, Crisis of a Papacy offers several nuggets of insight and factoids along the way. The following are two such nuggets from Politi’s book worth pulling out.
One concerns the role of women. Politi notes that in a meeting with the clergy of Rome in 2006, Benedict said, “It is right to ask whether in ministerial service … it might be possible to make more room, to give more offices of responsibility to women.”
Yet five years after those remarks, Politi observes, the situation in the Vatican — which is, after all, the ministerial environment over which a pope has the most direct control — is largely unchanged. Here’s what he reports:
- There are only two women at the level of “superiors,” meaning decision-making roles: Salesian Sr. Enrica Rosanna, under-secretary of the Congregation for Religious, and Flaminia Giovanelli, under-secretary of the Council for Justice and Peace, a lay member of Focolare.
- In the first section of the Secretariat of State, which handles internal church business, no woman holds the role of a “head of office,” and there’s just one sister working at the lower administrative level. In the second section, responsible for foreign relations, it’s the same — just one woman at the basic administrative level.
- In the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, there’s no female theologian among the consulters, and there’s no woman on the commission responsible for matrimonial cases. On the International Theological Commission, which advises the congregation on doctrinal issues, there are two women among the 29 members.