Pope Francis has announced that he is appointing a woman for the first time to a managerial role in the Secretariat of State, one of the most important departments in the Vatican.
Francesca Di Giovanni, who has worked at the Secretariat for 27 years, will be elevated to the position of undersecretary for the section for relations with states. She’ll manage the Vatican’s relationships with multilateral organizations such as the United Nations.
The Catholic Church’s leadership is almost completely male-dominated, and women are not allowed to be ordained as priests. In recent months, how-ever, Pope Francis has expressed a desire to include more women in decision-making roles.
Di Giovanni, who specializes in migrants and refugees and international law, says she was surprised to be appointed as undersecretary. “I sincerely never would have thought the Holy Father would have entrust-ed this role to me,” she said in an interview with Vatican News.
The Secretariat of State deals with the city-state’s operations and diplomatic affairs. Di Giovanni will be the first person to hold this particular position.