A woman appointed for the first time to a very high-level post

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Tourists in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. – Andrew Medichini / AP / SIPA

For the first time, a woman will occupy a very high-level post in the Vatican, after the appointment by the
Pope Francis of Francesca Di Giovanni as deputy minister at the Secretary of State, equivalent to the central government, announced the Holy See.

Pope Francis has appointed Francesca Di Giovanni, a 66-year-old secularist, under secretary for multilateralism in the State Relations section, which is the equivalent of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Vatican said in a statement.

Extensive professional experience

Born in Palermo in 1953, a law graduate, Francesca Di Giovanni has already worked for almost 27 years at the State Secretariat, according to the official statement. She will report to Msgr. Paul R. Gallagher, the Vatican “Minister” for Foreign Affairs, and will work alongside the other Undersecretary, Msgr. Miroslaw Wachowski.

The first woman to reach such a level of responsibility, she also has professional experience in the multilateral field, in particular on questions relating to migrants and refugees, international humanitarian law and private international law, the Holy See said on Wednesday.

The Pope took “it is certain, an innovative decision which, beyond my person, represents a sign of attention to women. But responsibility is about function, more than being a woman, “said Francesca Di Giovanni, in an interview with Vaticans News, the Holy See’s information portal.

“Women are mediators of peace”

She also recalled the words of the pope during his homily on January 1, assuring that “women are donors and mediators of peace, and must be fully involved in the decision-making process”.

Since the beginning of his pontificate in 2013, Pope Francis, 83, has shown himself to be very attached to the role of women in the Church and more broadly in society, regularly denouncing the injustices of which they are victims.

In his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” in November 2013, a few months after his election, Francis invited theologians to reflect “on the possible role of women, where important decisions are made, in the various circles of the Church”.

At the conclusion of the synod (world meeting of bishops) on the Amazon last October, the Argentinian pontiff also insisted on the “need to reflect on what the role of women in the Church means” and explained “that a woman could be at the head of a dicastery ”, ministry.

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