Italian nun becomes highest ranked woman in Vatican
VATICAN CITY, Nov. 4 (Reuters) – Pope Francis has for the first time appointed a woman to the number two position in the Vatican City government, making her the highest ranked woman in the world’s smallest state .
The appointment Thursday of Sister Raffaella Petrini, a 52-year-old Italian nun, is the latest in which the 84-year-old Pope has placed a woman in a leadership role.
Petrini’s new post of Secretary General of the Vatican City State Governorate is comparable to that of Deputy Governor of a State or Deputy Mayor of a City. The governorate, based in a large palace in the middle of Vatican City, oversees more than 2,000 employees.
The appointment of Petrini, a graduate of LUISS, a prestigious Italian business university, marks the Pope’s latest attempt to keep promises to improve gender balance made years ago, but whose women’s groups have declared that they were too slow to come true.
The governorate oversees the day-to-day functioning of Vatican City, including services such as the police, fire department, health services, museums, maintenance, and office staff.
The former holder of the post of secretary general is a bishop. He now holds the presidency, the most senior position.
A number of other women already hold number two positions in Vatican departments, but they deal with religious and social issues and are much smaller.
In August, the Pope appointed Italian nun Sister Alessandra Smerilli as acting secretary of the Vatican’s development office, which deals with justice and peace issues.
In February, he appointed Nathalie Becquart, a French member of the Missionary Sisters Xaviere, co-undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, a department that prepares the major meetings of the bishops of the world which are held every few years.
Also in February, he appointed Italian magistrate Catia Summaria as the first woman promoter of justice at the Vatican Court of Appeal.
He also appointed six women to senior positions on the council that oversees Vatican finances and women to the positions of deputy foreign minister, director of the Vatican Museums and deputy head of the Vatican Press Office.
Francis said he saw no reason why a woman should not hold a high office apart from those who for doctrinal reasons are only open to ordained priests.
Reporting by Philip Pullella Editing by Alexandra Hudson
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