Women account for approximately 5.5% of the citizenry of Vatican City. According to the Herald Sun in March 2011, there were only 32 females out of 572 citizens issued with Vatican passports. One of them was a nun.[1] In 2013, Worldcrunch reported that there were around 30 women who were citizens of Vatican City, including two South American women, two Poles, and three from Switzerland. The majority of Vatican women at the time were from Italy.[2]

Female residents

Among the women who lived in Vatican City was one of the daughters of an electrician, who later got married and "lost her right to live" in the city. Another woman who lives in Vatican City was Magdalena Wolińska-Riedi, who is a Polish translator and wife of one of the Swiss Guards.[2]

Vatican City citizens

Among the women who have citizenship in Vatican City, there is one officer in the military, two teachers (one teaches in high school, the other teaches in kindergarten), and one academic. Women obtain Vatican City citizenship by marriage (as a baptized Catholic) to their husbands; however such citizenship "lasts only for the duration of their stay" in Vatican City.[2]

Value of women

In the past, women were not allowed to open a bank account in Vatican City, but, during the leadership of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, the value of women in the city was highlighted. One of Pope Benedict XVI's assistant editors and confidential adviser was a woman, Ingrid Stampa.[2] On April 21, 2013, The Telegraph reported that Pope Francis will be appointing "more women to key Vatican" positions. In May 2019, Francis appointed three women as consultors to the General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops on Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment, marking a historic first for the Church.[3] In addition to this, L'Osservatore Romano – the daily newspaper in Vatican City – is now publishing supplementary pages that address women's issues.[4] Women are not allowed to be ordained to the presbyterate or episcopate, though a commission is currently studying the question of whether women can serve as un-ordained deacons.


President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama meet with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on July 10, 2009.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama meet with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on July 10, 2009.

Women (and men) visiting St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel or the Vatican Museums in Vatican City are expected to wear appropriate attire. Low cut or sleeveless clothing, shorts, miniskirts and hats (for men, indoors) are not allowed. Women may or may not wear the traditional "black hat or veil". Dress code for Papal audiences is somewhat more formal.[5][6] Women cannot wear clothing that does not cover the shoulders and the knees.[2]

Protocol for private and official audiences with the Pope says that ladies should wear a black dress, without a neckline, and cover their heads with a veil, also black; no large handbags or flashy jewellery; yes to a string of pearls. It is also allowed to meet the Pope wearing typical national or regional costumes, but red is banned (reserved for cardinals' robes) and purple for its liturgical significance (colour of penance), while the "privilege of white" is only for Catholic queens. Raisa Gorbacheva's visit in 1989 was famous: she presented herself to the Pope in a red dress and without a veil.

Voting rights

The Pope, who serves as the head of state, is elected by the College of Cardinals of the Catholic Church. The College is part of the Holy See, which forms a separate sovereign entity from Vatican City. Cardinals in the Catholic Church are required to be male, with voting Cardinals generally always Bishops, and only men are eligible to be elected Pope. With that being said, however, the cardinalate is a privilege and office bestowed by the Pope; it is not a separate, fourth degree of Holy Orders, along with deacon, priest, and Bishop, though it ranks above them, so theoretically, the laws could be amended to allow for women to be Cardinals, though that is currently very unlikely.[editorializing]


Vatican City is one of two sovereign states that do not allow divorce, the other being the Republic of the Philippines.


See also: Abortion and the Catholic Church

There is no criminal law against abortion in Vatican City State, unlike the nine countries worldwide where abortion is illegal in earthly law (Malta, Madagascar, Dominican Republic, Andorra, El Salvador, Philippines, Lebanon, Honduras and Nicaragua), the Vatican state adheres to the Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church. Canon law applies to Catholics worldwide. Canon 1398 states that abortion procedures whose direct purpose is to destroy an embryo, blastocyst, zygote or fetus is morally unacceptable.[7]

However, in accordance with the principle of double effect, in the rare cases of indirect abortion, such as when, in an ectopic pregnancy, the fallopian tube is removed, or in cases of ovarian cancer. In these cases the procedure is aimed only at preserving the woman's life, and the death of the fetus, although foreseen, is not willed either as an end or as a means for obtaining the intended effect.

Donne in Vaticano

In September 2016, Vatican authorities approved the creation of Donne in Vaticano, the first women-only association of the Vatican. The members of the association are journalists, theologians, and economists.[8][9] It is led by founding president Tracey McClure.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Only 32 women in Vatican City, Herald Sun, March 02, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e Mrowińska, Alina. Behind The Walls: What it's Like to Live Inside The Vatican, For a Woman, Gazeta Wyborcza/Worldcrunch, February 26, 2013.
  3. ^ White, Christopher (October 30, 2019). "Pope Francis using synods to 'build consensus' in Church, participant says". cruxnow.com. Retrieved 2019-11-19.
  4. ^ Pope Francis 'to appoint more women to key Vatican posts', The Telegraph, April 21, 2013
  5. ^ Vatican Museums - useful information for visitors, Vatican museums and churches visitor information, museivaticani.va
  6. ^ "Vatican City Dress Code". Buzzle. Archived from the original on 18 October 2017.
  7. ^ "Catechism of the Catholic Church - IntraText". www.vatican.va. Retrieved 2020-11-26.
  8. ^ "E' nata la prima Associazione di donne in Vaticano" (in Italian). Radio Vaticana. 7 December 2016. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  9. ^ "Donne in Vaticano, la 1ère association féminine au Vatican" (in French). Buzz Europa. 14 May 2017. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  10. ^ San Martín, Inés (2016-12-08). "Women working in the Vatican create their own association". Crux. Retrieved 2021-04-21.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)