Women at the Vatican form association for solidarity

A view of St Peters Basilica in Vatican City Jan 25 2015 Credit Bohumil Petrik CNA 5 CNA 1 26 15 A view of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. | Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

A new association for women working in the Vatican announced Wednesday provides a personal and professional network for women to offer support to each other and to the community.

Called simply "Donne in Vaticano," or "Women in the Vatican," a Dec. 7 communique said the association "intends to create a network of friendship, exchange and solidarity among all for personal and professional growth."

President of the association and Vatican journalist Tracey McClure said members of the association believe women "are a valuable resource" and should be "valued in the workplace and in all areas of life and activity within the Vatican."

"Putting (Women in the Vatican) together over the past 4 years or so has introduced me to some highly intelligent, competent and creative women."

You can't help but admire their "love for their jobs, their dedication to the Pope and their determination to help others – all the while balancing family and social commitments," she said.

Citing research by Gudrun Sailer, a fellow employee of Vatican Radio and author of three books on women in the Vatican, McClure said there are about 750 women who currently work at the Vatican, or 19 percent of the total Vatican workforce. It's "an upward trend," she said.

According to Sailer, most of the women working in the Vatican are academics and the percentage of women currently working in the curia is particularly high, historically considered.

The association is open to all women who do or have worked for the Vatican City State, the Holy See, and related institutions – whether secular or religious.

The idea for the association developed among a group of colleagues, and since its Nov. 23 launch has expanded from the 12 founding members to include more than 53 women from 16 different Vatican offices. The constitution was signed Sept. 1.

Besides helping to connect women working in different areas of the Vatican, the association also hopes to initiate volunteer opportunities in order "to give back to their communities," McClure said, in the spirit of what Pope Francis calls a "revolution of tenderness."

They would also like to specifically help provide assistance to women in need and "to give more visibility to the initiatives and contributions of other Christian women."

"In our intent we feel encouraged by the papal Magisterium. The last Popes have expressed on many occasions appreciation and esteem in the regard of women," the communique stated. Quoting Pope Francis: "the Church cannot be herself without the woman and her role."

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