WelCom February 2020
Pope Francis has appointed a female Italian lawyer to a high-ranking role in the Vatican’s diplomatic division. Dr Francesca Di Giovanni will serve as the under-secretary in the Section for Relations with States, the arm of the Catholic Church that handles the Holy See’s political and diplomatic activity.
Di Giovanni is the first woman to hold a position at that level in the Secretariat of State.
‘The Holy Father has made an unprecedented decision, certainly, which, beyond myself personally, represents an indication of an attention towards women,’ Di Giovanni said, according to Vatican News. ‘But the responsibility is connected to the job, rather than to the fact of being a woman.’
She said she was surprised by the appointment, as she ‘never would have thought the Holy Father would have entrusted this role to me.’
In his New Year’s Day address, the Pope denounced violence against women and spoke about gender equality, telling the congregation that women ‘should be fully included in decision-making processes. Every step forward for women, is a step forward for humanity as a whole,’ he said.
Di Giovanni was born in Palermo on the southern Italian island of Sicily, and has worked in the Secretariat of State for 27 years. She holds a law degree and has worked in the areas of migrants and refugees, international humanitarian law, and the status of women.