Pope Francis has appointed six women to a high-level group that oversees financial matters in Vatican City that was previously only comprised of men.
The head of the Roman Catholic Church appointed the six women to the Council for the Economy, which was created in 2014 by the pontiff.
Announced Thursday, the new female appointees are Charlotte Kreuter-Kirchhof and Marija Kolak of Germany, Maria Osacar Garaicoechea and Eva Castillo Sanz of Spain, and Ruth Kelly and Leslie Ferrar of the United Kingdom.
Kelly and Ferrar each have public service experience, with Kelly having served as a minister in the government of former Prime Minister Tony Blair and Ferrar being a former treasurer for the Prince of Wales.
“It is wonderful to see the pope's commitment to promoting women to decision-making posts in the Vatican,” said Kelly to the National Catholic Reporter.
In addition to the six women, the membership will include one male lay leader and eight cardinals, among them 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,” stated Tobin to the NCR.
“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.
In April 2018, Francis appointed three female theologians to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is tasked with defending Catholic doctrine.
The 2018 appointments marked the first time that women and laity were represented in the CDF, a move that the Vatican paper L'Osservatore Romano labeled "historic."
Later that year, Francis was asked about opening the door to female ordination, but he rejected the idea, while stressing that there is “no Church without women.”
“With sacred orders, you can't do anything because dogmatically it doesn't go — and John Paul II was clear and closed the door, and I won't turn on this. It was a serious thing, not capricious,” said the pontiff at the time, as reported by Crux.
“But we mustn't reduce the presence of the women to their role ... No, it's a thing that man can't do. Man cannot be the bride of Christ. It's the woman, the Church, the bride of Christ.”