A female Secretary of State in the Vatican: ‘It would be time’. These are the words of Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Benedict XVI, and a leading exponent of the most orthodox wing of the Church, in a long uncensored interview with Vaticanist Franca Giansoldati, from which the book ‘In buona fedè (published by Solferino) was born, due out on 27 January.
“Honestly,” Müller observes, “I do not believe that the Church is chauvinist, in the etymological sense of the term. It is one of the many prejudices that circulate. There are, in fact, no obstacles whatsoever for women to hold prominent academic positions, for example, Professor of Theology in Pontifical Universities. Just as she could very well aspire to senior roles in the Secretariat of State or elsewhere in the curia. Of course, to be a professor of theology one needs precise competences”.
“Women,” says the Cardinal, former Prefect of the former Holy Office, “can occupy all roles in the Church that are not linked to the Sacrament of Orders. I think it is feasible, for example, to appoint a woman apostolic nuncio, or a woman Secretary of State or even Substitute for General Affairs or even Governor of the Vatican Bank. Perhaps it would also be time to have a woman Secretary of State or at the top of the Governorate, since these roles are also open to lay people, without any preclusion. However, on the priesthood there is an insurmountable barrier, the priesthood can only be a man, just like the cardinalate: for a woman, it cannot be contemplated since at the origin of the College of Cardinals there was a link with the priesthood, so much so that even today every cardinal is associated with a Church of Rome’.
In the future, there seems to be no room for a qualified female presence among the electors called to a conclave to elect the Pope. Says Cardinal Müller: ‘We must start from the roots to understand in which direction we can go. The Conclave began to take shape when the Church of Rome began to elect its Bishop, the successor of Peter. It was not an election in the democratic sense but a choice guided by the Holy Spirit. Later on, boundaries and rules were slowly defined, until we reach today’s situation. We know that in the Middle Ages, but also beyond, there were large noble families who pursued their own policies to influence the choice of the successor. It was Pope Nicholas II who laid down the first rules for the election and from there the rules were refined to the current constitution, Universi Dominici Gregis. And it was clarified that only the Cardinals of the Roman Church – those incardinated in the titular churches – had the right to vote, precisely to limit chaos and external pressures’.
READ ON BELOW…New interview with Cardinal Müller on the current state of the Church