Pope Francis urged to appoint more women and fewer Europeans
Members of new papal advisory team make recommendations on key posts
Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras said he was backing more posts for women after the Pope named him this month to lead a task force of eight cardinals from around the world to reform the Roman Curia, an alleged hotbed of intrigue, infighting and corruption.
The cardinal's comments, made to The Sunday Times, were backed by Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi on Sunday.
"It is a natural step – there is a move towards putting more women in key roles where they are qualified," he said.
In its bid to address women's issues, the Vatican's daily newspaper L'Osservatore Romano has launched a women's supplement.
In his general audience on April 3, the Pope noted how women were the first witnesses of the Resurrection, adding that, "The Apostles and disciples find it harder to believe in the Risen Christ, not the women however!"
"This was a message about the importance of the role of women in the Church," said Carlo Marroni, a Vatican expert at Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore. "That said, the question still gets handled cautiously as it touches on the issue of ordination for women."
Women have taken on a number of key roles at the Vatican, including Sister Nicla Spezzati, the undersecretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Flaminia Giovanelli, the undersecretary, at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
St Peter's is run by a woman, Maria Cristina Carlo-Stella, who is the head of the Fabbrica di San Pietro, the Vatican office in charge of the basilica.
"But that is still very few," said Marco Politi, a Vatican watcher at Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano. "Look at Germany and the US, where women have many key positions in the dioceses."
Pope Francis did not endear himself to American nuns last week after he backed the Vatican's assertion that a major group of US sisters were guilty of promoting "radical feminism" and straying from the Vatican's tough line on same-sex marriage and abortion.
The Pope's new task force aims to ring the changes at the Vatican is drawn from around the world, including Sean Patrick O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston and George Pell, archbishop of Sydney.
Cardinal Maradiaga, the head of the group, who speaks six languages, plays the saxophone and trained as a pilot, said he would be scrutinising the controversial Vatican Bank, which has been linked to scandals.
Pope Francis formed the task force after complaints that the Vatican was unresponsive to the needs and requests of cardinals outside Italy and Europe.
Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, the retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile, and one of group, has warned that the Vatican was overpopulated with Europeans.
"Forty European bishops working for the Holy Father and for the government of the Church are too many," he said.
Source: The Telegraph
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