Indian Catholics laud pope’s ‘visionary’ move in appointing women to Vatican top office

“Pope Francis is no doubt a visionary who is treading gently to create space for women"

Catholics in India lauded Pope Francis’s decision to name three women to the Dicastery of Bishops, the Vatican office responsible for evaluating new members of the Catholic Church’s hierarchy.

“Pope Francis is no doubt a visionary who is treading gently to create space for women to become actively engaged in the life and mission of the Church,” said Presentation Sister Dorothy Fernandes, national secretary of the Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace in India.

The Vatican office oversees the work of most of the Catholic Church’s 5,300 bishops who run dioceses around the world.

Sister Fernandes said the pope is following Jesus who was sensitive to women entrusted the Church to them beginning with Mother Mary.

The pope “is breaking new paths much to the opposition from within,” said Sister Fernandes. “Synodality is being unfolded by inclusiveness by enabling women to take their rightful place.”

Kochurani Abraham, a feminist theologian, said that by naming three women, Pope Francis is apparently breaking the gendered glass ceiling of the Catholic Church.

Capuchin Father Suresh Mathew, editor of the Indian Currents weekly, sees the appointments as the sign of the pope “going all out with his sweeping changes in the Church.”

Sister Manju Devarapalli, a Carmelite Missionaries nun who is the secretary of the National Dalit Christian Watch, said she is “extremely glad at the farsightedness of Pope Francis that goes back to that of Christ in the Gospels.”

She pointed out that after becoming the pope, Francis has been surprising not just the Catholic Church but the whole world with his visionary leadership.

Chhotebhai, national convener of the Indian Christian Forum, said the pope “is pushing ahead steadily till hopefully women can be ordained ministers. He began with innocuous appointments like lectors and acolytes. That was the beginning not the end.”

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