Pope appoints first woman to senior Vatican role


Dr Francesca Di Giovanni at UN

Dr Francesca Di Giovanni at UN

Source: Vatican News

Pope Francis has appointed Dr Francesca Di Giovanni as under-secretary for the Section for Relations with States. She will be responsible for the multilateral sector.

Born in Palermo in 1953, Dr Di Giovanni is currently an official of the Secretariat of State, where she has worked for 27 years.

Dr Di Giovanni holds a law degree. After completing practicum as a notary, she worked in the juridical-administrative area at the International Centre of the Work of Mary (Focolare Movement). On 15 September 1993 she began work as an official in the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State. Di Giovanni has served in the multilateral sector, especially in the areas of migrants and refugees, international humanitarian law, communications, private international law, the status of women, intellectual property, and tourism.

With the appointment of Dr Di Giovanni, the Section for Relations with States has two under-secretaries: Di Giovanni will work alongside Msgr Mirosław Wachowski, who will continue to work primarily in the area of bilateral diplomacy.

In an interview with Vatican News and L'Osservatore Romano Dr Di Giovanni said she was surprised to be chosen for the job. She she said: "For several years now we have been thinking about the need for an under-secretary for the multilateral sector: a delicate and demanding sector that needs special attention, because it has its own procedures, in some ways different from those of the bilateral sphere. But I sincerely never would have thought the Holy Father would have entrusted this role to me."

"It is a new role and I will try to do my best to live up to the Holy Father's trust, but I hope not to do it alone: I would like to count on the harmony that has characterized our working group so far."

She explained: "The 'multilateral sector' deals with relations between inter-governmental organisations at the international level and includes the network of multilateral treaties, which are important because they embody the political will of States with regard to the various issues concerning the international common good: this includes development, the environment, the protection of victims of conflicts, the situation of women, and so on."

This appointment marks the first time a woman has had a managerial position in the Secretariat of State.

Dr Di Giovanni said: "The Holy Father has made an unprecedented decision, certainly, which, beyond myself personally, represents an indication of an attention towards women. But the responsibility is connected to the job, rather than to the fact of being a woman."

Quoting Pope Francis' homily on 1 January, Dr Di Giovanni said: "he presented - we could say - a 'tribute' to the role of women, saying that "women are givers and mediators of peace and should be fully included in decision-making processes. Because when women can share their gifts, the world finds itself more united, more peaceful."

She continued: "I would like to be able to contribute to the realization of the Holy Father's vision, with my other colleagues who work in this area of the Secretariat of State, but also with other women - and there are many of them - who are working to build fraternity in this international dimension too. It is important to emphasize the Pope's attention to the multilateral sector, questioned today by some, but which has a fundamental function in the international community.

"A woman may have certain aptitudes for finding commonalities, healing relationships with unity at heart. I hope that my being a woman might reflect itself positively in this task, even if they are gifts that I certainly find in my male colleagues as well."



Tags: Women, Pope Francis, Dr Francesca Di Giovanni, Secretariat of State

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