Australian Embassy
Holy See
Holy See

2018 Events

11-17 April 2018 - Celebrating our region at the Assembly of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania


Villagers of Hanuabada, St Michael’s Parish, welcome Holy See Secretary of State (Prime Minister-equivalent) His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin (Photo 1 - top right in white), 70 bishops from the region and guests including HE Melissa Hitchman (Photo 1 - bottom left) to the Assemply of the Federation of Oceania Catholic Bishops Conferences in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, hosted by FCBCO President His Eminence Cardinal John Ribat MSC (Photo 1 - left of Cardinal Parolin) from 11-17 April 2018. Representatives in traditional dress from provinces throughout Papua New Guinea (photos 2 and 3) participate in the FCBCO Opening Mass with His Eminence Cardinal Parolin, joined by fellow Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops from throughout Oceania (Photo 4).

8 March 2018 – Celebrating Indigenous Culture on International Women’s Day with 2017 Senior Australian of the Year Sr Anne Gardiner


In recognition of International Women’s Day 2018, the Australian Embassies to the Holy See and Italy hosted an inspiring morning with guest speaker and 2017 Senior Australian of the Year, Sister Anne Gardiner (Photo 1 at the General Papal Audience draped in the Tiwi Islands Flag. Addressing the audience in Photo 2).  A Daughter of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (OLSH), Sister Anne is known for her work on the remote Bathurst Island in the Northern Territory with the Tiwi community.  She has devoted her life to enhancing opportunities for the Tiwi people and preserving Indigenous language and culture.  As an exemplary model of Church-State-Indigenous collaboration, Sister Anne shared her experiences in working in a cross-cultural context and the importance of leadership for Indigenous women in particular. 

Both Ambassadors addressed the audience and provided their own insights into the importance of Women in Leadership and the need for Male Champions for Change.  Around 100 guests attended from the Diplomatic Corps, the Roman Curia and Italian government, the Australian religious and lay communities, international organisations and media.  Guests also enjoyed an opportunity for networking and further dialogue at the morning tea following.  The Australian Embassies thank Sister Anne for sharing her experience, and the National Australia Day Council of the Northern Territory, Australian Catholic University, Sydney Swans, Archdiocese of Sydney, Tiwi Islands Communities and countless private donors for their support in facilitating Sr Anne’s visit to Rome for this event.  See Vatican News' interview here

13 February 2018 - Honouring Australian feminist, activist, theologian and author Rosemary Goldie AO


As part of the Australian Government’s Women in Leadership agenda, the Minister for Defence, Senator the Honourable Marise Payne, opened the Embassy's Rosemary Goldie Room on 13 February 2018 (photo 1).  Goldie was an Australian feminist, activist, theologian and author.  As Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity (1967-1976), she made history as the first woman to hold an official post of authority in the Roman Curia (photo 2).  Guests attended from the Holy See (Undersecretary of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development Dottoressa Flaminia Giovanelli, Head of the Office of Women in the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life Dottoressa Marta Rodriguez and the Secretariat of State’s Francesca di Giovanni), diplomatic corps (Ambassadors from Georgia, Peru, Ireland, the UK and Benin), academia (including ACU Pro-Chancellor Julien O’Connell), church (Little Sisters of the Poor Srs Imelda Magee and Jacqueline Welisarage, photo 2) and media (National Catholic Reporter’s Joshua McElwee and The Tablet’s Christopher Lamb).  Two gathered knew and worked with her: Undersecretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development Dottoressa Flaminia Giovanelli and the Ambassador for Benin HE Agnes Avognon Adjaho.  Rosemary Goldie’s life is recalled through her own hand in From a Roman Window (photo 3).  In 1990, Goldie was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for ‘service to religion and to international relations’.  On her death in Sydney in 2010, aged 94, the Pontifical Council for the Laity declared Goldie ‘a protagonist for five fruitful decades of the contemporary historical movement of promotion of the laity who left a memorable and very dear trace…for…her competent and untiring service in the Roman Curia’.  The Australian Embassy to the Holy See is delighted to honour Rosemary Goldie AO and her contribution to church-state relations as a woman in leadership.

1 February 2018 - Promoting Australia’s Foreign Policy White Paper

Australian Ambassador to the Holy See HE Melissa Hitchman passed a copy of Australia’s Foreign Policy White Paper released in November 2017 by Australian Prime Minister The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP to President of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development His Eminence Cardinal Peter Turkson on 1 February 2018.   See #FPWhitePaper



1 February 2018 - Australian Chair of the Board of the Crop Trust safeguarding biodiversity and food security through innovation


Chair of the Board of the 145 member nation not-for-profit Crop Trust, The Hon Tim Fischer AC, briefed Secretary for Relations with States (Holy See Foreign Minister equivalent) HE Archbishop Paul Gallagher (Photo 1) on 1 February 2018 on the Crop’s Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway, which is safeguarding biodiversity and food security against conflict, disease and climate change.  During his visit to the Holy See, Mr Fischer and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development Secretary HE Archbishop Silvano Tomasi exchanged memoirs: Holy See, Unholy Me! and The Holy See and the Family of Nations: Diplomatic Actions of the Holy See at the UN (Photo 2)

26 January 2018 - Celebrating Australia Day


The Australian Embassy to the Holy See and Domus Australia co-hosted a record number of guests on 26 January 2018 to celebrate Australia's National Day.  Domus Australia Rector Monsignor John Boyle (Photo 4) and Australian Ambassador to the Holy See HE Melissa Hitchman thanked HE Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher OP (Photo 3 - with The Hon Julia Gillard AC) as principal celebrant to a preceding mass in the St Peter Chanel Chapel.  Australian Catholic University Indigenous Health and Culture lecturer Ms Colleen Kelly read an Indigenous Thanksgiving Prayer at the following reception.  Guests included the 27th Prime Minister of Australia and Chair of the Board for the Global Partnership for Education The Honourable Julia Gillard AC (Photo 1), Holy See Secretary for Relations with States (Foreign Minister equivalent) HE Archbishop Paul Gallagher (Photo 1 - 2nd from left), Holy See Assessor for General Affairs (Deputy Interior Minister equivalent) Monsignor Paolo Borgia, Holy See Undersecretary for Relations with States (Deputy Foreign Minister equivalent) Monsignor Antoine Camilleri (Photo 1 - right) and Holy See Chief of Protocol Monsignor Jose Bettencourt, as well as others from the Curia, Holy See diplomatic corps, academia, NGOs, media, and the Australia diaspora in and around the Holy See and Italy.  The Australian Embassy to the Holy See thanks all for their generous support.

10 January 2018 - Women Ambassadors welcoming US Ambassador to the Holy See

HE Melissa Hitchman, along with the other nine resident women Ambassadors currently accredited to the Holy See, welcomed US Ambassador to the Holy See, HE Callista Gingrich on 10 January.  Pictured L-R are HE Emma Madigan, Ireland; HE Tamara Grdzelidze, Georgia; HE Miroslava Rosas Vargas, Panama; HE Callista Gingrich, USA; HE Melissa Hitchman, Australia; HE Slavica Karacic, Bosnia-Herzegovina;  HE Tetyana Izhevska, Ukraine; HE Agnes Avognon Adjaho, Benin and HE Sally Axworthy MBE, UK. HE Annette Schavan of Germany and HE Elvira Velasquez Rivas-Plata of Peru sent good wishes.  All exchanged views on prosecuting respective national interests with the Roman Curia, including leveraging the resources of pontifical universities, national colleges, and diaspora.