As part of efforts to promote women to higher positions of authority within the Catholic Church, Pope Francis promoted six women Thursday to open positions helping oversee the Vatican’s finances.
The six women from the United Kingdom, Spain, and Germany will join the 15-member Council for the Economy, which was created by Pope Francis in 2014 to supervise the financials for Vatican City. They are described as having backgrounds in finances, academics, and politics, and will join the current council members consisting of eight Cardinals and one layman from outside the Vatican.
Named to the council were:
–Former Telefónica Europe executive Eva Castillo Sanz.
–Former U.K. Parliament member Ruth Kelly.
-Former treasurer to the Prince of Wales Leslie Jane.
–Heinrich Heine University law professor Charlotte Kreuter-Kirchhof.
–CEO of Germany’s association of cooperative banks Marija Kolak.
-Vice chairwoman of Spanish real-estate group Azora Group María Concepción Osácar Garaicoechea .
The council will already have a full plate when the appointments are finalized due to Vatican City’s growing deficit. In 2018, the deficit had reportedly grown to $83 million on a budget for around $355 million and is projected to double in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent recession. The Vatican cited the lack of tourists, which is one of its most consistent forms of income, as a major contributor for the ballooning debt.
Even with the looming debt shadow on the council, the appointments represent another step in the growing voice of women within the Vatican.
Pope Francis has previously spoken about the possibility of appointing more women to prominent positions of authority within the Vatican. Art historian Barbara Jatta was made the head of the Vatican Museums in 2017 after working within the Vatican Library and Vatican Museums since 1996. He also appointed Francesca Di Giovanni as one of the two undersecretaries in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State in January 2020.
“We must move forward without fear to include women in advisory positions, also in governance,” Pope Francis said in November 2019. “The place of women in the church is not just as functionaries…Women’s advice is very important.”
However, Pope Francis also stopped short of saying women should be ordained within the Catholic Church.
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