Pope Francis appoints first woman to head Vatican governorate

Published: Updated:
Enable Read mode
100% Font Size

Pope Francis appointed a woman Thursday to head up the governorate of the Vatican, as he forges ahead with a mission to achieve greater gender equality in the Church.

The pontiff appointed Franciscan sister Raffaella Petrini as the new secretary general of the governorate, making her the first woman to ever hold the post.


For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Petrini, 52, who will be responsible for overseeing administrative operations, including the Vatican museums, post office and police, becomes the highest-ranking woman in the world’s smallest state.

The National Catholic Reporter online newspaper said the role is traditionally held by a bishop.

Francis, 84, has repeatedly said he wants women to play a greater role in the Roman Catholic Church.

In January he changed the law to allow them to serve as readers at liturgies, altar servers and distributors of communion -- but stopped short of saying the change could one day open the door to female priests.

In February he broke with Catholic tradition to appoint a woman as an undersecretary of the synod of bishops, the first to hold the post with voting rights in a body that studies major questions of doctrine.

The pope created a commission in 2016 into the history of female deacons in the early year of the Catholic Church, in a move reformers hope could open the door to women taking up the role today.

After their findings were said by the pope to be inconclusive, he set up a fresh commission to look into the issue last year.

Read more: May ‘cry of the Earth’ be heard at UN climate summit: Pope Francis

Top Content Trending