"The Holy Father has made an unprecedented decision, certainly, which, beyond myself personally, represents an indication of an attention towards women," Francesca Di Giovanni said.

By Ian Horswill


Posted on January 16, 2020

Pope Francis has appointed an Italian lawyer as the first woman to hold a management position in the Vatican’s most important office.

Francesca Di Giovanni, 66, will serve as undersecretary for multilateral affairs in the Secretariat of State.

She will be responsible for co-ordinating the Holy See’s relations with groups including the UN.

Pope Francis has been vocal in his support for women holding greater positions of authority in the Vatican.

“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,” Di Giovanni told Vatican News.

Di Giovanni has worked for the Vatican for 27 years and has specialised in areas including migration and refugees, the status of women, intellectual property and tourism.

“The Holy Father has made an unprecedented decision, certainly, which, beyond myself personally, represents an indication of an attention towards women,” she said.

“I cannot fail to recall the words of the Holy Father in his homily on 1 January, in which 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”.

“I would like to be able to contribute to the realisation 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 emphasise 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.

“But the responsibility is connected to the job, rather than to the fact of being a woman.”

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