Pope Francis on Saturday issued a new constitution for the Vatican’s central administration, known as the Curia, stating that any baptised lay Catholic, including women, can head Vatican departments.
Most Vatican departments have been headed by male clerics, usually cardinals. The new, 54-page constitution, called Praedicate Evangelium (Preach the Gospel), took more than nine years to complete.
It will take effect on June 5, replacing one approved in 1988 by Pope John Paul II.
One part of the preamble of the constitution says: “The pope, bishops and other ordained ministers are not the only evangelisers in the Church,” adding that lay men and women “should have roles of government and responsibility”.
The principles section of the constitution says “any member of the faithful can head a dicastery (Curia department) or organism” if the pope decides that are qualified and appoints them. It makes no distinction between lay men and lay women.