Significant small steps

Among Pope Francis' recent objectives is that of achieving a greater role for women and the laity in general, as evidenced by recent appointments to Holy See bodies.

September 5, 2021-Reading time: 2 minutes

To achieve a greater protagonism of women - and of the laity in general - in the life of the Church. This seems to be an objective of the pontificate of Francis, in continuity with the development of the theology of the laity, the cornerstone of the Second Vatican Council, and with the work of his predecessors.

While society is moving towards equality of rights and opportunities, the Pope seems to have opted for a discreet measure: to take small but significant steps that favor the path of facts, beyond theoretical discussions about the role of the baptized or the power of ecclesial government.

A reflection of this has been seen in the last month, with the appointment of several prestigious women scientists as members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. A gesture that not only gives visibility to the work of women in science, but also broadens the view of the role of the laity and the contribution they can make to the Church through their professional achievements. Not to mention the recent appointment for the first time of a woman as number two in a dicastery: Alessandra Smerilli in the Dicastery for Human Development.

Among the latest appointments are two winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020: the French Emmanuelle Marie Charpentier and the American Jennifer Anne Doudna. The news was preceded by other also recent appointments such as the Canadian Dona Theo Strickland - Nobel Prize in Physics in 2018 for pioneering research in the field of lasers -, the American chemist Susan Solomon, and the Dutch astronomer and chemist Ewine Fleur van Dishoeck. The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences was joined on August 4 by the South African anthropologist Mpilenhe Pearl Sithole. 

All of them are renowned professionals who, beyond their contribution to knowledge, allow the Church to communicate an important message.

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