Pope names British woman to head academy

2014-04-12 17:00
Pope Francis celebrates a mass in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, on New Year's Day. (Andrew Medichini, AP)

Pope Francis celebrates a mass in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, on New Year's Day. (Andrew Medichini, AP)

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Vatican - Pope Francis has named a British sociologist to run a pontifical academy, marking the highest-ranking appointment of a woman in his papacy.

The Vatican announced on Saturday that Margaret Scotford Archer will lead the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, which produces research to help the church establish policy.

Francis has made giving women a greater-decision making role in the church a priority of his papacy.

Archer, 71, replaces another woman appointed by John Paul II, Mary Ann Gledon, a Harvard University law professor and former US ambassador to the Holy See.

Archer is director of social ontology centre at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale in Lausanne, Switzerland. She spent much of her career at the University of Warwick in Britain, and was named to the pontifical academy in 1994.

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