The processes in the Vatican were always men's business. With Pope Francis, that is changing in small steps. There is now a general secretary in Vatican City, and three nuns will have a say in the nomination of bishops.
For the first time, Pope Francis has appointed three women to the Vatican's office responsible for appointing bishops. The head of the Catholic Church chose the two nuns Raffaella Petrini and Yvonne Reungoat and María Lía Zervino, as the Holy See announced.
Francis made the 53-year-old Italian Petrini Secretary General last November and thus number two in Vatican City, i.e. the area surrounded by Rome on which the mini-state is located. The French Reungoat is the boss of the Don Bosco sisters. Zervino heads the World Union of Catholic Women's Associations. The 85-year-old Argentine Francis had already indicated this step in an interview last week, but had not yet named any names.
The members of the so-called dicastery for the bishops were previously exclusively men. What is new is that women now also have a say in the appointment of bishops. Francis also appointed several churchmen to the body. A German was not among them.
Pope Francis is also planning his own future should he one day resign from office. He is currently not considering resigning, but after a possible resignation he will not stay in the Vatican. "No, certainly not," said the head of the Catholic Church. He also doesn't want to go back to his home country of Argentina. "No, I live here in Rome," the 85-year-old explained, pointing out that in this case he would be the "emeritus bishop of Rome". He wants to serve people again. "If I live on, I would like something like that," continued the Argentine.
Unlike his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. Francis ruled out calling himself "papa emerito", i.e. pope emeritus. But Francis praised Benedict XVI, who resigned his pontificate in 2013 and continues to live in the Vatican at the age of 95. "The example that Pope Benedict gave us was great," declared the pontiff. He hopes that it will help him one day when he can no longer do it or is an obstacle. "I have great sympathy for Pope Benedict," said Francis.