Pope Francis has appointed three women to a previously all-male advisory committee that helps select bishops across the world, the Vatican said on Wednesday.
The two nuns – Raffaella Petrini and Yvonne Reungoat – and a lay woman, Maria Lia Zervino are the first women to join the unit that guides the pontiff on suitable candidates for the ordained role.
This is the second appointment for the Italian Sister Petrini in less than a year. Last November, the Pope named her to the second position in the governorship of Vatican City. She serves as the secretary-general of the Governorate of the State of Vatican City which oversees more than 2,000 employees.
French nun Reungoat was one of the first seven women named members of the Vatican department for religious orders in 2019, while Lia Zervino, an Argentine, is the current president-general of the World Union of Catholic Women's Organisations.
The trio is among 14 people including cardinals, bishops, and priests appointed to the Dicastery for Bishops, which appraises priests and recommends their elevation to bishops.
Pope Francis is progressively promoting gender diversity in the Roman Catholic Church which bans women from the priesthood. His bold steps to include women in the church’s leadership emboldens his strive to remove barriers in the church’s system.
The Pope had in early July, in an interview with Reuters revealed his intention to “give women more senior and influential positions in the Holy See.”
In February 2021, he appointed French Sister Nathalie Becquart undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, which advises the pope and has voting rights.