Woman among 6 appointed to previous all male Vatican body welcomes move by Pope Francis

(Photo: Reuters / Max Rossi)Sister Pat Farrell (R), president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), and Sister Janet Mock, the executive-director, walk in Saint Peter's Square following a meeting with Cardinal William Levada at the Vatican June 12, 2012. The Vatican on Tuesday sternly told the leaders of American nuns who were accused of being too feminist and politicised that their group "remains under the supreme direction of the Holy See". The nuns, who requested the meeting to face Roman Catholic doctrinal officials over the accusations, said they would go back to the United States to decide their next move

Pope Francis's appointment of six women among the new members to the Vatican's Council for the Economy, has drawn praise for expanding the role of women into a previously all male body.

The historic move means there are more senior female officials serving the Vatican than ever before, CBS News reported

The six female appointees are: Charlotte Kreuter-Kirchhof, of Germany; Eva Castillo Sanz, of Spain; Leslie Jane Ferrar, of Great Britain; Marija Kolak, of Germany; María Concepción Osákar Garaicoechea, of Spain; and Ruth Maria Kelly, of Great Britain. Alberto Minali is the only layperson from Italy that was appointed.

Kelly having served as a minister in the government of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and Ferrar is a former treasurer for Britain's Prince of Wales, Christian Today reported.

The Council for the Economy was created in 2014 by Pope Francis, comprised of eight cardinals or bishops and seven lay people who have strong professional financial experience.

"I feel honored to have been appointed to the Council for the Economy. It is wonderful to see the Pope's commitment to promoting women to decision-making posts in the Vatican," Kelly told The Tablet, a weekly Catholic newspaper in the UK.

Kelly currently serves as pro-vice chancellor of St. Mary's University in London heading research.

Prof. Alibrandi is a professor at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, located in Milan, Italy, Vatican News reported.

She is also a member of the Milan Bar Association, President of the Association of Economics and Law Professors, and a member of the Union of Catholic Jurists.

Only two of the council's previous 14 members will continue on: German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who serves as its leader, and South African Cardinal Wilfred Napier.

Along with the six women appointed, the council's membership will include one male lay leader and eight cardinals, among them U.S. Cardinal Joseph Tobin of New Jersey.

"I see their nomination as an effort by Pope Francis to ensure greater opportunities for women to offer their gifts in service to the church," Tobin said told National Catholic Reporter.

"He clearly considers the academic formation and vast experience of these colleagues as crucial contributions to one of his cherished priorities, the ongoing reform of the financial administration of the Holy See."

While stopping short of supporting female ordination, Francis has had a record of appointing women to prominent leadership roles within the Catholic Church, said Christian Today.

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