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Pope Francis has appointed six women and one man to the papacy’s Council that oversees Vatican finances as reported by Kerknet, the Catholic Church portal in Flanders, which quotes the Vatican press service.

It is the first time that women sit on this financial body of the Vatican City since February 2014 to manage each of the 20 ministries’ financial flows and validate the figures of the various budgets. The structure was designed to simplify a decision and control organigram, which until then was very fragmented and bureaucratic. The appointment to one of the most prestigious positions in the Holy See marks the Pope’s recent efforts to fulfill promises made a few years ago to improve gender balance.

Francis had earlier appointed women as Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Director of the Vatican Museums, Deputy Director of the Vatican Press Office, and four women as directors of the Episcopal Conference that prepares for essential meetings.

However, Thursday’s new appointment marks the most significant number of women holding positions in the Vatican.

The Economic Committee used to be only men with 15 seats. The cardinal is the coordinator, and the other 14 posts are held equally between the laypeople and the clergy.

Now the seven lay members includes 6 women and one man. The new members are German professor Charlotte Kreuter-Kirchhof from Heinrich-Heine University in Düsseldorf, finance expert Marija Kolak from Berliner Volksbank and also president of the German Association of Popular Banks and Credit Unions, the specialist Spanish investment firm Maria Concepcion Osacar Garaicoechea, Spanish lawyer Eva Castillo Sanz, British Labor Party politician and former Education Secretary Ruth Mary Kelly, as well as Leslie Jane Ferrar, former treasurer to Prince Charles. The only man on the board of new appointments, the Italian economist Alberto Minali also joins the board.

The Pope also confirmed Archbishops Péter Erdö, Odilo Pedro Scherer, Gérald Cyprien Lacroix (Quebec), Giuseppe Petrocchi (L’Aquila) and Joseph William Tobin, as well as the Bishop of Stockholm Anders Arborelius, in their functions on the Council.

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