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Photo: Pierpaolo Scavuzzo/Vatican Pool/Corbis/Getty Images

Pope Francis has appointed Sister Raffaella Petrini to become the first woman to serve in the No. 2 position in the governorship of Vatican City.

Why it matters: The appointment makes Petrini, a 52-year-old Italian nun, the highest-ranking woman in the world's smallest state, per Reuters.

The big picture: Petrini's appointment is the latest attempt from Francis to improve gender balance, a promise the Pope made years ago.

  • In February, Francis appointed 52-year-old French Sister Nathalie Becquart as an undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops.
  • Petrini will serve as the secretary-general of the Governorate of the State of Vatican City. The Governorate oversees more than 2,000 employees, per Reuters.

Go deeper

U.S. bishops slated to debate whether Biden should receive communion

Pope Francis meets President Biden at the Apostolic Palace on Oct. 29 in the Vatican. Photo: Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty Images

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops this week is expected to debate whether President Biden's support for abortion rights should disqualify him from receiving communion.

Driving the news: At the organization's annual general assembly in Baltimore, the bishops are slated to vote on a document, which clarifies the meaning of "Holy Communion," Reuters writes.

18 mins ago - Politics & Policy

GOP fights itself on shutdown politics

Reporters question Senate Minority Whip John Thune before the Republican Party's weekly lunch on Tuesday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

GOP leaders on Capitol Hill are scrambling to reach a deal with a bloc of 15 Senate Republicans threatening a government shutdown to force a fight over the Biden administration's vaccine mandates.

Why it matters: The push to defund the mandates — by holding the short-term government funding bill hostageis largely symbolic, and highly controversial within the Republican Party. A shutdown as early as midnight Friday could trigger everything from national park closures to delays in receiving Social Security checks.

Stacey Abrams launches second campaign for Georgia governor

Photo: Eze Amos/Getty Images

Stacey Abrams, voting rights activist and former 2018 candidate for Georgia governor, is running for the position again in 2022. Abrams would be the first Black female governor in the country.

Why it matters: Abrams caught national attention in 2018 by narrowly losing an election to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in a state held firmly by the GOP for nearly two decades.