Sr Raffaella Petrini appointed Secretary General of Governorate
Vatican News reports:
By Vatican News
Pope Francis has appointed Sister Raffaella Petrini, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, as Secretary-General of the Governorate of Vatican City State. Since 2005 she has served as an official at the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Born in Rome on 15 January 1969, she holds a degree in political science from the Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli (LUISS) and a doctorate from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum), where she is currently a professor.
Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist Raffaela Petrini with Pope Francis
The Pope has appointed as Deputy Secretary-General of the Governorate Italian lawyer Giuseppe Puglisi-Alibrandi, who until now has headed the Governorate’s Legal Office. Alibrandi was born in Rome on 23 October 1966, where he earned a degree in law from La Sapienza University. Since 2014 he has served as an official at the Governorate, and since 2017 he has directed the Legal, Civil Status, Registry, and Notarial Office of Vatican City State.
Also today, Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Mauro Gambetti as a member of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State. Cardinal Gambetti is Archpriest of the Papal Basilica of St. Peter’s in the Vatican, President of the Fabbrica di San Pietro, and Vicar General of the Pope for Vatican City.
Sr Raffaella Petrini appointed Secretary General of Governorate…
By Virginia Saldanha
Mumbai, Nov. 9, 2021: While all appreciate Pope Francis forging ahead appointing women to positions in the Vatican, there are questions raised about these appointments. Here, I bring some more voices of women representing laity of the Indian Catholic Church.
The first question is, why are only religious sisters are being appointed? What about the larger majority of women who are not religious, yet work closely with the Church and are competent as well.
“We also look forward with hope that we who are the majority among women especially in the secular sphere may have representation, presence and a voice in the Church someday. Let not the Church divide us by religious sisters supporting the religious sister’s appointment, and the rest of women being ignored,” Says Raynah Braganza Passanah, chairperson of the Pune Diocese Commission for Women.
In 1996, five years after the appointment of a religious sister as the executive secretary of the Commission for Women in the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), an evaluation was done and the findings pointed out that if a non-religious woman was appointed in that position, the commission would fulfil its mandate for the empowerment of women.
It was felt that it was difficult for a religious woman to take the bold steps that a non-religious woman would have the courage to take. Religious women have been trained to be obedient to the clergy and hierarchy and never to disagree with them. If a religious sister does anything that rocks the hierarchical boat, she can easily be brought in line through the leadership of her congregation.
“I also question why only sisters?” asks Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, advisor to the CBCI Council for Women. But she clarifies, “It is important to check their qualification and experience irrespective of the fact that one is a sister or not, because that is what matters
We are well aware that “Patriarchy refuses to release its tight grip on women in the Church,” points out Kochurani Abraham, a Kerala based feminist theologian. She went on to say, “I laughed at the remark of an Indian sister who said that she cheers the appointment of Sister Petrini, because ‘she is a replica of all women!’. I was reminded of the glorified Mary in heaven being projected as a liberative icon for all the enslaved women of the Church on earth.”
“The appointment is mere tokenism for women which can only take us so far. And as long as the appointee is a religious sister, the status quo will be maintained,” asserts Raynah. Her concern is, “what is one woman going to do in a sea of men who have greater authority than she does, one wonders what kind of an impact can she make?”
I would like to situate all these concerns within the framework of synodality. Pope Francis has called for a Synodal Church, one that walks together, where no difference is shown between lay, religious or clergy. The poster of the Synod vividly represents this walking together. Yet the structures that we have to work with do not necessarily facilitate this walking together.
The structures are still controlled by the clergy and the hierarchy. The voice of the non-ordained, non-religious persons, or those who do not belong to any pious association, is not likely to be heard beyond the diocesan phase. Even, if they do get heard at the diocesan stage, it is likely that they will get filtered out at the national level, the continental level and finally at the Bishops’ Synod in 2023, where women’s voice is absent.
Do the male hierarchy see women as so inferior that they are incapable of handling authority in the Church?
Why do women have to constantly depend on men in the Church, when Jesus, in whose name the Church functions, brought women to the fore when he broke the Word to women (Mary the sister of Lazarus), he made a woman (Mary of Magdala) the first bearer of the good news of his resurrection, and he refused to condemn a woman for the sin of adultery as he made the men aware that she was not alone in this sin.
The gospels and Acts of the Apostles (story of the early Church) are replete with instances of women’s leadership. Why then, does the Church in the 21st century continue to ignore what Jesus did for women?