Pope Francis has appointed Raffaella Petrini, 52, a Franciscan nun and political scientist, as Provincial General Secretary of the Vatican State, thus becoming “Number Two,” the first time a woman has held the position.
Petrini, who has hitherto been an official in the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples, was born in Rome on January 15, 1969 and belongs to the Franciscan Congregation of Nuns of the Eucharist.
She received a degree in political science from the International Free University of Guido Carli, as well as a doctorate from the Pontifical University of San Tommaso d’Aquino, where she is currently Professor of Welfare Economics and Sociology of Economic Operations.
Pope Francis highlights the work of women in the Church and last August elected six lay experts from the Economics Council.
One of them, Professor Charlotte Kreuter Kirchhoff, was appointed deputy coordinator of this council in September.
Also in August, Francis appointed several women scientists to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, including Emmanuel Marie Charpentier, founder and director of the Max Planck Unit for Pathogen Science in Berlin and the new 2020 Prize in Chemistry.
Also, Donna Theo Strickland, Professor of Optical Physics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo and recipient of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics for her 1985 invention, along with Gerard Moreau, laser pulse amplification, Ultra short, high-intensity laser pulses of light used in millions of surgeries the eyes.
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