Women’s Leadership in the R.C. Church

Three women appointed to Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

women appointed

Pope Francis has made an historic decision to appoint women to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. They are the first female members and the first non-clerics to be appointed to the Congregation.

The three women appointed are:

  • Linda Ghisoni, who is a professor of canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University and an undersecretary in the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. She is also a judge at the First Instance Court of the Vicariate of Rome and is a professor of law at Roma Tre University;
  • Michelina Tenance, professor of theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, is a consecrated woman. Among her various achievements and posts, Francis appointed her to the commission to study the female diaconate in 2016;
  • Laetitia Calmeyn, lecturer of theology at the Collège des Bernardins in Paris. Her ministries include working as a palliative care nurse, a retreat organizer for youth, and a Catholic religion teacher. She has a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute in Rome.

Other new appointees are:

  • Father Sergio Paolo Bonanni, professor of theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University;
  • Father Manuel Jesús Arroba Conde, dean of the Institutum Utriusque Iuris at the Pontifical Lateran University.

The Congregation promotes and defends the doctrine of the faith and its traditions in all of the Catholic world.

Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer leads the Congregation.



In the wake of my previous post on the Anglican Church of Canada’s positive and  wholesome  discrimination towards the radical inclusion of women amongst the leadership of the Church, here we have the story (courtesy of CathNewsNZ) of Pope Francis’ appointment of 3 women theologians to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. “They are the first female members and the first non-clerics to be appointed to the Congregation”.

This historic ‘first’ for the Roman Catholic Church is a sure sign of Pope Francis’ eirenic determination to include the gifts of the female of the species into the governance of the Body of Christ, the Church. Despite biblical evidence of Our Lord’s inclusion of women in his encouragement of their ministry (cf his new-era commissioning of Mary Magdalen to announce his Resurrection to the male Apostles) – and reflecting the traditional bias against their teaching role in the Church by Saint Paul – patriarchalism has continued to be the norm for Roman Catholic sacramental ministry and doctrinal determination.

Although Pope Francis has expressed his own doubts about the ordination of women as priest and bishops, this may be a direct intuition that the time is not yet ripe for such a profound movement in the emancipation of women in his own Church. However, he has been photographed welcoming at least one female bishop of the Lutheran Church recently so this may be a sign of his openness to direction by the Holy Spirit on an issue that he sees as important enough to open up the possibility of female input into Church Doctrine – formerly the patriarchalist preserve of men.

The Pope’s openness to such departures from the hallowed tradition of the Vatican has obviously caused a fluttering in the dovecotes of the ardent traditionalists. Not unlike, one might imagine, the effect in the Sanhedrin of the liberating ministry of Jesus towards the downtrodden of his own day – including those women that were part of his own following.

The more I read of Pope Francis, the more I wish it were possible he could become the next Anglican Bishop of Christchurch.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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