VATICAN CITY, APRIL 25, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II has entrusted for the first time to a woman a post with executive powers in a congregation of the Roman Curia.
Sister Enrica Rosanna, 66, was appointed undersecretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
A religious of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, a Salesian congregation, Sister Enrica was until now professor of sociology of religion at the Auxilium Pontifical Faculty of Education Sciences, which her religious congregation directs.
An expert in education sciences, she has participated in several synods of bishops.
Sister Enrica said that she accepted the decision “with faith, with the certainty that if the Holy Father and the Church have expressed this act of trust, the Lord will give me the strength, the courage and the enthusiasm to respond.”
“Frankly, I feel somewhat lost,” she told Vatican Radio. “I feel, however, the support of prayer and of all the religious, in particular, my sisters.”
Noting the significance of a woman being appointed to the Curia post, Sister Enrica echoed a theme from the Pope’s 1988 apostolic letter “Mulieris Dignitatem.”
“Women will save humanity,” she said, “because they are capable of compassion, because they are able to appreciate beauty, because they are capable of sacrifice, because they are capable of going where there is need, and are capable of seeing beyond ordinary life to go where life is wanting or where the necessary is lacking.”
“I think that women, precisely because they are the mothers of life, can offer our society of death a breath of life,” she said. “I hope that I, too, through my mission, can offer that breath of life where it is lacking.”
Slovenian Archbishop Franc Rode has been prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life since February.
In the last few months, the Pope has begun to entrust to women posts of responsibility without precedents in the Holy See.
He has appointed Harvard law professor Mary Ann Glendon as president of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences and Italian archaeologist Leticia Pani Ermini as president of the Roman Academy of Archaeology.
In March, the Holy Father appointed the first women theologians as members of the International Theological Commission. They are Sister Sarah Butler, professor of theology at St. Mary of the Lake University in Mundelein, Illinois, near Chicago, and German Barbara Hallensleben, professor at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Fribourg in Switzerland.