Vatican’s Small Steps Toward Gender Equality

Barbara Jatta will oversee an institution that is one of the Holy See’s major sources of funds with about $311 million in gross revenues a year. PHOTO: VATICAN MUSEUMS

Barbara Jatta will oversee an institution that is one of the Holy See’s major sources of funds with about $311 million in gross revenues a year. PHOTO: VATICAN MUSEUMS

Without religious affiliation, we’ve applauded the current pope’s embrace of environmental protection and other progressive leaning policies. In a current political atmosphere where gender often overrides qualification, we appreciate this appointment all the more.

Pope Francis Names New Female Director of Vatican Museums

ROME—The Vatican Museums, one of the world’s pre-eminent art collections, announced Tuesday that Barbara Jatta, an Italian art historian and longtime Vatican official, will become its new director, making her the first woman to hold one of the most prestigious jobs in the art world.

The appointment by Pope Francis, which is effective Jan. 1, will also make Ms. Jatta the most prominent female administrator at the Vatican. The pope has spoken about expanding the roles of women in the Catholic Church, but most high Vatican offices are reserved for cardinals and bishops, who must be men. (Margaret Archer, a British sociologist, was named president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, an advisory body to the pope, in 2014.)

The Museums, which include priceless masterpieces including the Sistine Chapel frescoes by Michelangelo, regularly appear among the world’s top 10 museum complexes by attendance, with over six million visitors in 2015. The collections include 70,000 objects, dating back from antiquity through the 20th century.

Ms. Jatta, 54, will oversee an institution that is one of the Holy See’s major sources of funds, with about €300 million ($311 million) in gross revenues a year and at least €40 million in profits. The financial importance of the Vatican Museums has only grown in recent years, as the Holy See seeks to close a budget shortfall that amounted to €26 million in 2014.

A native of Rome, Ms. Jatta has worked at the Vatican since 1996, until this year within the Vatican Library, where she oversaw the library’s collection of rare prints. She previously taught at the University of Naples.

Read the rest of the Wall Street Journal Article here.

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