In the lead up to the much anticipated prayer meeting with Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas, it has been business as usual at the Vatican. Pope Francis appointed a new board of directors for the Financial Information Authority and graciously thanked the previous directors, who have all reached the end of their term.
The new board is international. Only one of the four members is Italian. The others are from Switzerland, Singapore and the United States. The one Italian director, Maria Bianca Farina, is also the one female on the board. She is administrator of the Poste Italiana’s banking and insurance arms.
It is slowly becoming increasingly normal to see women’s names on the list of papal appointees. That brings us to Pope Francis’ often repeated statement that he wants to see space for women opened up in the church, space for a more “capillary and incisive” presence of women.
The question remains, what does that space look like? What would make women’s presence more incisive and capillary?
Every one has their own idea of what that role might look like, and what needs to change for that space to be created. Is that space really non existent? Are women’s roles in the church really just support roles? Are women limited to ironing altar linens and issuing press releases, as some critics assert?
To get a clearer picture of where women are working in the church today we’ll be featuring several different women over the next few weeks. All are educated, articulate, well formed women in positions where they bring Christ to the world.
This week we feature Fransiscan Sister of the Eucharist, Sr. Damien Marie Savino. Like many religious sisters these days, Sr. Damien Marie didn’t ever think of the religious life. She did a bachelor’s degree in Biogeography, and was embarking on a Masters in Plant Science when she met the Fransiscan Sisters of the Eucharist. As the Chair of the Environmental Science and Studies department at the University of St. Thomas in Houston she has forged a unique program that brings together environmental studies and theology.
We spoke to Sr. Damien Marie about how her role fits into the life the Church, why women are so vital to the life of the church, and what needs to change so that space can open up for women.