Next task for pope's cardinal advisors: Women's leadership in the Vatican

A view of St Peters Basilica 1 and Vatican City flag from the roof of a nearby building on June 5 2015 Credit Bohumil Petrik CNA 6 5 15 Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

As Pope Francis' council of cardinals wraps up the drafting of a new apostolic constitution, they have decided to take up the topic of management roles for women working in the Vatican.

Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti told journalists April 10 that among proposed agenda items for subsequent meetings of the pope's now-six member advisory group will be management positions for women in offices of the Holy See.

At a briefing on the council's latest meetings April 8-10, Gisotti said that though the group's primary work of reforming the Roman Curia through a new apostolic constitution is wrapping up, the advisory body will continue to assist the pope in governance of the Roman Curia.

Gisotti expects the council – formerly referred to as the "C9" – will seek input from women in their discussion of female leadership in the Vatican, as they have done for other topics in the past.

Gisotti also emphasized that it is not the first time Pope Francis, or the Vatican, have considered the issue of women in the Church. He highlighted, as an example, the April 10 appointment of Dr. Amalia D'Alascio as a head of office in the Vatican's Apostolic Library.

The next steps for Praedicate evangelium, the provisionary name given to the new apostolic constitution governing the Curia, will be for a confidential draft to be sent to bishops' conferences, heads of Eastern Churches, Vatican dicasteries, religious superiors, and some pontifical universities for feedback.

The draft will be sent first in Italian and later in other languages.

Comments will then be read and considered for incorporation into the text, which is also still being brought into line with canon law. It will be published after receiving final approval from Pope Francis, hopefully to take place by the end of the year, Gisotti said.

Pope Francis stressed in the latest meetings, Gisotti said, that the reform of the Roman Curia is an ongoing process, some of which has been started before the completion of Praedicate evangelium.

The pope called this idea "initiating processes."

Among the reforms already begun are the creation of the third section of the Secretariat of State, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, and the Secretariat for the Economy.

Other topics discussed during the meetings were the importance of reinforcing "synodality" at all levels within the Church and the missionary aspect of the Roman Curia.

During the meetings, Cardinal Sean O'Malley gave an update on last week's plenary meeting of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. One of the projects of the group will be establishing a Virtual Survivor's Advisory Panel in addition to local SAPs already being organized.

Present at the meetings April 8-10 were Cardinals Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, Reinhard Marx, Sean O'Malley, Giuseppe Bertello, Oswald Gracias, and Pietro Parolin. Council secretary Bishop Marcello Semeraro and adjunct secretary Bishop Marco Mellino were also in attendance.

As usual, Pope Francis was present for all sessions apart from Wednesday morning, when he held the general audience.

Established by Pope Francis shortly after his pontificate began in 2013, the Council of Cardinals serves as an advisory body on Church governance and reform, with special emphasis on the reform of Pastor bonus, the apostolic constitution which governs the Roman Curia.

The next gathering of the council will take place June 25-27.

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