Monday, August 28, 2006

The Women Behind the Walls

Between the cultural tumult of the cinematic release of The DaVinci Code, the Pittsburgh "ordinations" and Benedict XVI's recent comments in his interview with German television, it could be said that the prime ecclesiastical storyline of this summer has focused on women in the church.

But what of women in the Vatican, itself? Back in Rome after two weeks of much-deserved holiday, Robert Mickens blasts out the gate in The Tablet with the numbers:
A counting of women listed as Roman Curia officials, found in the Annuario Pontificio 2006, shows that among the major departments of the Holy See (congregations, tribunals, pontifical commissions and pontifical councils) women make up slightly more than 15 per cent of the formally registered office staff. The Congregation for Divine Worship, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, and the three major tribunals (the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Apostolic Signature, and the Roman Rota) have no women at all. The Congregation for Catholic Education has only one woman on its staff of 23.

Five women are among the 35 people who work at the Congregation for the Docctrine of the Faith (CDF), but four of them are technical staff. The CDF has no women among its 33 "consulters" from around the world. There are no women among the 22 members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and only three among the 32 members of the International Theological Commission - both offices presided over by the CDF prefect. There are also no women - just 27 men - on the CDF's special commission that deals with the dissolution of marriage cases.

Nineteen Vatican congregations and pontifical councils have a combined total of 595 outside "consulters", people who are consulted for their knowledge, experience and expertise. Only 66 of these are women, just 11 per cent. When the total figures of office staff and "consulters" are combined, 201 women (mostly women Religious) appear among the 1,214 names - just over 16.5 per cent. Even in offices where the constituency, as it were, is mainly women, men still hold the upper hand. For example, there are four times as many women Religious as there are men Religious in the world, but in the Congregation for Religious only 13 of the 34 staff are female.
As one friend likes to say, "Brutta, brutta, brutta figura."

However, Mickens notes a prominent exception to the rule:
It is said that Pope Benedict XVI has long relied on the theological help of Professor Ingrid Stampa. She appears in the Annuario Pontificio as a firstclass addetto di segretaria - the same rank as the Pope's personal secretary, Mgr Georg Gänswein.
Stampa -- who this writer has written about before -- is accredited to the German desk of the Secretariat of State. In the eyes of some senior papal handlers, she remains a controversial figure to the present moment....

I'd also posit Marie Hendrickx as an example that things are looking up.... Birgit Wansing, too.