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Pope names three women to Vatican panel choosing bishops

July 13, 2022

Pope Francis has appointed three women to the Dicastery for Bishops, giving women a direct role for the first time on the body that selects candidates to become bishops.

Last week the Pope revealed that he planned to appoint two women to the Dicastery for Bishops—a body that in the past has been composed only of bishops. But a July 13 announcement from the Vatican indicated that in fact three women had been named: two religious and one lay women. They are:

  • Sister Raffaella Petrini, FSE, who is already the top-ranking female at the Vatican, having been appointed last November as the secretary-general of the Vatican City Governorate, and has been a member of the Congregation for Evangelization since 2005;
  • Sister Yvonne Reungoat, FMA, the former superior general of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, who in 2019 became one of the first women to serve on what was then the Congregation for Religious; and
  • Maria Lia Zervino, an Argentine lay woman who belongs to an association of consecrated virgins, and is president of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations and has been a consultant to the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue.

While the two women religious have experience working in the Roman Curia, Dr. Zervino—who is known as a close friend of Pope Francis—brings a new perspective. Last year she wrote an open letter to the Pontiff, published in America magazine, in which she urged him to give women greater influence, particularly in “exercising ministries such as listening, spiritual direction, pastoral health care, care for the planet, defense of human rights, etc., for which, by our nature, women are equally or sometimes better prepared than men.” While praising the Pontiff for bringing change to the Vatican, she said “that as a woman I feel that something is owed to us.”

Along with the three women, Pope Francis also appointed eleven men to the Dicastery for Bishops: four cardinals; four archbishops; two bishops; and a Benedictine abbot. They are:

  1. Cardinal Andres Arborelius of Stockholm, Sweden;
  2. Cardinal Jose Advincula of Manila, Philippines;
  3. Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonca, the Vatican archivist;
  4. Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops;
  5. Archbishop Arthur Roche, prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship;
  6. Archbishop Lazzaro you Heung-sik, prefect of the Dicastery for the Clergy;
  7. Archbishop Jean-Marc Aveline of Marseille, France;
  8. Archbishop Drazen Kutlesa of Split, Croatia;
  9. Bishop Oscar Cantoni of Como, Italy;
  10. Bishop Paul Tighe, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture; and
  11. Dom Donato Ogliari, OSB, the abbot of St. Paul Outside-the-Wall and apostolic administrator of the Abbey of Montecassin.

(Archbishops Roche, Heung-sik, and Aveline, along with Bishop Cantoni, have been named by the Pope to be raised to the College of Cardinals at the consistory in August.)


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  • Posted by: rfr46 - Jul. 15, 2022 4:42 AM ET USA

    When PF said to "make a mess" he was not kidding. He seems willing to take the Church down with himself.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jul. 14, 2022 6:56 PM ET USA

    I agree with carlkrebs2165. Has anyone noticed much Catholic humility in the Vatican during the last 9 years? We have seen political expediencies and parlor tricks for consumption by the gullible. But how much true humility? Maybe it's happening in spades, but we are just not privy to it.

  • Posted by: jalsardl5053 - Jul. 14, 2022 4:46 PM ET USA

    Birds of a feather...are appointed together.

  • Posted by: feedback - Jul. 13, 2022 9:56 PM ET USA

    How about overseeing Vatican finances by three (or more) lay persons? Or, is that area too sacred to let lay people in?

  • Posted by: carlkrebs2165 - Jul. 13, 2022 7:07 PM ET USA

    Well, nice to see Dr. Zervino is bring humility to the post - While praising the Pontiff for bringing change to the Vatican, she said “that as a woman I feel that something is owed to us.”. And, of course, she was published in America magazine.