Print this Page
Print this Page

Holy See/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.10 Gender equality and cultural policies

By its nature and with the express encouragement of recent pontiffs, the Roman Curia is increasingly internationalised. Moreover, recent years have seen employment of a greater number of lay men and women and more participation in the life of the Church.

Out of the present staff of 2 748, 1 021 are priests or male religious staff, 90 are female religious staff and 1 637 are lay people, (1 212 men and 425 women). Lay people make up 59.6 % of the total. There are 515 women, both lay and religious staff, making up 18.7% of the total workforce.

Table 1:     Gender balance among Vatican staff, 2007




Clergy and religious


1 021



Lay people


1 212




2 748

Source:      Consolidated Balance Sheet of the Holy See for the Year 2007.

Women hold positions in different offices and / or cultural institutions of the Holy See including the Vatican Museums, the Academy for Social Sciences and the Pontifical Commission for Archaeology. The official delegations of the Holy See to international conferences are being joined by increasing numbers of women. For example, the head of the Holy See's delegation to the United Nations International Conference on Women (Beijing 1995) was Mrs Mary Ann Glendon. Mrs. Glendon was later appointed President of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences in Rome. In April 2004, for the first time, a woman was appointed as an Undersecretary of the Congregation for Consecrated Life, Sister Enrica Rosanna.

In 1988, John Paul II wrote a letter with regard to the role of women within the Catholic Church, Mulieris dignitatem. While not a legislative document, his letter contains reflections and guidelines for behaviour. This Letter to Women alsoencourages universal and renewed awareness of the dignity of woman and respect of the feminine identity.


Another document relating to sex and gender questions was issued in 2004 by the Congregation of the Faith, then presided over by Cardinal J. Ratzinger: On the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World. This Document recalls the equal dignity of men and women, insists on a correct understanding of the collaboration of men and women, in respect of their differences, and the importance of feminine values in the Church and in society.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his discourse to the Meeting of Catholic Movements for the Promotion of Women, extended his "greetings of great affection and hope to all women, to whom God has entrusted the wellsprings of life"... invited them to "live and to put your trust in life, because the living God has put his trust in you!" (22 March 2009).

Chapter published: 17-07-2018

Your Comments on this Chapter?