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Pope Francis greets Consolata Sister Simona Brambilla at the Vatican in June 2017 (CNS/L’Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis has appointed the first woman to serve as the No. 2 official of the Roman Curia office that works with religious orders and their members. Source: OSV News.

Consolata Missionary Sister Simona Brambilla will be secretary of the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Vatican announced on Saturday. 

According to Vatican statistics published in February, there are nearly 609,000 professed religious women in the world. There are just under 50,000 religious brothers and just over 128,000 religious-order priests.

For decades, women religious and many bishops decried the lack of women in top leadership roles at the dicastery, which is called to promote religious life, including approving the statutes of religious congregations, when the vast majority of them are communities of women.

Pope Francis’ document on the reform of the Roman Curia said, “The dicastery is to promote, encourage and regulate the practice of the evangelical counsels, how they are lived out in the approved forms of consecrated life and all matters concerning the life and activity of Societies of Apostolic Life throughout the Latin Church.”

Sr Brambilla, a 58-year-old Italian, has been an external member of the dicastery since 2019. She served two terms as superior of the Consolata Missionary Sisters, leading the congregation from 2011 to May 2023.

After earning a nursing degree, she entered the order in 1988 and studied psychology at the Pontifical Gregorian University. In 1999, after taking her final vows, she went to Mozambique where she did youth ministry before returning to Rome in 2002, earning her doctorate in psychology from the Gregorian University in 2008.


Pope names first woman secretary of dicastery for religious (By Cindy Wooden, CNS via OSV News)