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Pope Names Deputy Spokeswoman as Women Make Vatican Gains

FILE - Pope Francis shakes hands with a Christiane Murray in an undated photo. (Source - Catholic News Service, Twitter @CatholicNewsSvc)

Pope Francis has named a Brazilian journalist, Christiane Murray, as his deputy spokeswoman in the latest important appointment boosting the presence and prestige of women at the Vatican.

The 57-year-old Murray joined Vatican Radio in 1995 and has recently been helping to prepare for the Vatican's meeting of bishops on the Amazon scheduled for later this year.

She replaces Paloma Garcia, who resigned Dec. 31, and joins the new Vatican spokesman, Matteo Bruni.

Her appointment follows Francis' historic decision this month to name seven women — superiors of their religious congregations — as members of the Vatican's congregation for religious orders, giving them a voice for the first time in matters directly affecting the lives of their sisters.

Women have long complained of a second-class status in the Catholic Church.