History indicates that Di Giovanni is the first woman to occupy a position at that level in the Secretary of State, the department that includes the Section on Relations with the States.
The Roman Catholic Church currently only allows men to be ordained as priests and much of the Vatican bureaucracy is still dominated by men.
“The Holy Father has made an unprecedented decision, which, beyond me personally, represents an indication of attention towards women,” Di Giovanni said, according to the news site. “But responsibility is related to work, rather than being a woman.”
She said she was surprised by the appointment, since “I would never have thought that the Holy Father would have entrusted me with this role.”
“Every step forward for women is a step forward for humanity as a whole,” he said.
Di Giovanni referred to the Pope’s speech and added that, as a woman, he could have “certain skills to find common ground, heal relationships with unity in the heart.”
“I hope that my being a woman is positively reflected in this task, even if they are gifts that I certainly also find in my male colleagues,” he said.
He stressed the importance of “encouraging dialogue” and “seeking diplomatic solutions” in the diplomatic community.
Di Giovanni was born in Palermo, on the island of Sicily, in southern Italy, and has worked at the Secretary of State for 27 years, according to the report. She has a law degree and has worked in the areas of migrants and refugees, international humanitarian law and the status of women.