The women of the Vatican

In the upper echelons of the Catholic Church, thinking that women could participate in some important position was unthinkable.

Just in January, Pope Francis changed canon law to allow Catholics to read the word of God during Masses, help at the altar and distribute communion, although these activities have already been carried out for years in many countries. institutionalized to prevent more conservative bishops from prohibiting women in their dioceses from performing these functions.

Recently, Jorge Mario Bergoglio has made important appointments of women in strategic positions in the Catholic Church, and it has to do with gender equality, in an institution that has not been fair to women.

Pope Francis appointed a woman to one of the most important positions. It is about the Italian nun Raffaella Petrini, who will now be in charge of the General Secretariat of the Interior of the Vatican City.

The Vatican is an independent territory, which has about 600 inhabitants and about two thousand employees, and Petrini’s job is basically like that of a deputy mayor, she must coordinate the police, firefighters, health services and be aware of the organization of museums, the jewel in the crown of state revenue.

This nun was born in Rome in 1969, is a political scientist from the Luiss Guido Carli University of Rome, and a professor of Christian social doctrine at the Pontifical University of Santo Tomás de Aquino, where she received her doctorate. He entered the Vatican Curia as an officer in the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

The administration of Jorge Mario Bergoglio is one of those that has most promoted the inclusion of women in the Catholic Church, another example of this is the appointment, in 2016, of Barbara Jatta, in the Directorate of the Vatican Museums, with whom Petrini will work very closely.

Other women with important positions are Alessandra Smerilli, also an Italian nun and teacher, appointed last August as interim secretary of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development and delegate of the Vatican Covid-19 Commission. Two weeks ago, in addition, there is the German professor Charlotte Kreuter-Kirchhof, as number two of the Vatican Council of Economy.

Nathalie Becquart, number two of the Synod of Bishops, is a body that prepares the meetings of the prelates of the world. She is the first woman with the right to vote in this body. Catalan Núria Calduch-Benages was elected last March as secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

Pope Francis is also giving visibility to the work of women in the world of science, as evidenced by the latest appointments of experts, including three Nobel laureates, as members of the pontifical academies that deal with these disciplines.

The Vatican has appointed three Nobel Laureates as ordinary members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences:

Jennifer Anne Doudna, 2020 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry; Emmanuelle Marie Charpentier, who shared the Nobel Prize with Doudna, and Donna Theo Strickland, Nobel Prize in Physics in 2018.

They open the door to gender equality

Although Bergoglio definitely denies that women can be ordained as priests, he does allow commissions to be held for the study of the female diaconate, which is already a breakthrough.

Catholic history shows us that the role of women has been relegated, that it has been belittled and that its role is always to serve. The fear that a woman could occupy the big seat in the Vatican has not been a minor thing.

Even at the beginning of the history of the Vatican, the figure of the palpati was established, in which an individual had the task of feeling the testicles of the newly appointed Pope to attest that he was indeed a man.

When this individual finished his task with the phrase: Duos habet et bene pendente, in Spanish: “He has two and they hang up well,” the conclave breathed with relief.

There is no conclusive historical evidence for its veracity, but there are versions that the Pope’s virile verification ceremony was suppressed by Hadrian VI, who was in charge from 1522 to 1523. However, Lawrence Banka’s illustrations show proof of masculinity of Innocent X, elected Pope in 1644.

This test of masculinity for the leader of the Catholic Church has a possible origin: the unofficial history of the Church that recounts the existence of Pope Juana, who posed as a man and was elected Pope, presumably Benedict III, between 855 and 857.

Historians place her as a woman who lived in the 9th century, called the daughter of a monk who was born in Germany. This Popess, they point out, had a lover and became pregnant. In the middle of a procession between San Pedro and San Juan de Letrán, she went into labor and had to give birth publicly. The mob threw themselves in anger at Juana and beat her to the point of killing her.

Today, the biggest problem is not in recognizing the female diaconate in the history of the Church, but in reinstating it. The most critical deny that they have sacramental value and prefer to maintain them with help tasks. Others believe that their role in the early communities was similar and just as valuable as that of deacons.

The most orthodox suppose that the ordination of deaconesses is to open the door to the female priesthood, but it is precisely that point that has to be addressed, if we really want to speak of equality in the Church.

Pope Francis is modernizing the Catholic Church, at a time when they were losing many of the faithful.

He has been a progressive man who is reforming Catholicism. These appointments of women to positions in the Vatican may seem revolutionary in the institutions of the Catholic Church, whose positions of power have been almost exclusively for men, but they have been very well accepted by women who are a very important part of the faithful of the Church. catholic.

Although women still do not reach first-level positions in the Church, cases like Raffaella Petrini’s are undoubtedly a stepping stone to achieve it, after all a revolution cannot be won overnight.

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The women of the Vatican

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