Australian Embassy
Holy See
Holy See

 

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Welcome to our website

Hello to all and welcome to the Australian Embassy to the Holy See’s website.

I am pleased to have been appointed Australia’s next Ambassador to the Holy See, the fourth resident Ambassador since the position was established in 2008. I presented my credentials to His Holiness Pope Francis on 27 August 2020, when I officially took up my role as the representative of the Australian Government to the Holy See.

It goes without saying that we are facing turbulent times, with the world still reeling from a devastating pandemic. Now, more than ever, supporting those in need is of critical importance, a key priority that Australia and the Holy See share. Australia has already taken a number of steps, including pivoting our development assistance through our new Partnerships for Recovery. Reinforcing global institutions will also be key, including to advance Australia and the Holy See’s broader shared agenda on human rights, conflict resolution and peace building.

As the only resident Ambassador from the Pacific, I hope to be able to give our region another voice in the Vatican. The Pacific is our neighbourhood, our family, and Australia is leading efforts to address our region’s key challenges, including on health security and climate change. Our Church Partnerships Program recognises the central role the Church plays in the Pacific (where over 90 per cent of the population identifies as Christian), and supports their capacity to contribute to regional development and community resilience.

During my mandate, we will be celebrating 50 years of Australia-Holy See diplomatic relations – an important milestone, built on the very strong and robust people to people links we share. Over five million Australians identify as Catholics, and our committed lay and religious community is making a difference both in Rome and at home. This year we will also celebrate the tenth year anniversary of the canonisation of Mary MacKillop, Australia’s first canonised Saint and a remarkable woman who encapsulates the true spirit of Australia.

Like my predecessors, my mission to the Holy See is to represent modern Australia – our vibrant democracy, indigenous heritage, and multicultural society (30 per cent of Australians are born overseas). I will be doing so as a young woman from a culturally and linguistically diverse background – I was born in Italy, moved with my family to Australia at the age of three, and spent time living in Indonesia growing up. I hope to draw on my experiences to shape the image of Australia and advance our shared priorities with the Holy See.

I will be using both this website and our new Twitter account @ausambholysee to keep you all updated on our work and share snapshots of life as an Ambassador to the Holy See. 

HE Ambassador Chiara Porro

 

Useful information about visiting the Holy See

Visiting the Vatican - general information on booking various Vatican tours and tickets for events presided by the Pope

 

Recent events

4 March 2022 – International Women’s Day Ecumenical and Interreligious Webinar “Women, Crisis and Resilience”

The Australian Embassy to the Holy See was pleased to support the International Women’s Day Ecumenical and Interreligious webinar “Women, Crisis and Resilience” hosted by the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations (WUCWO). The event featured the participation of key figures from different religions and remarks from various Ambassadors to the Holy See – including HE Ambassador Chiara Porro.

 

 

 

26 January 2022 - Australia Day

On Australia Day - when Australians celebrate our nation, from our Indigenous heritage to our multicultural character - we share with you some of the ways our Embassy has promoted what Australia stands for

 

16 December 2021 - Women in Synodality

The Australian Embassy to the Holy See - together with Editor in Chief of La Civilta Cattolica Fr Antonio Spadaro SJ and Georgetown University Representative in Rome Dr Debora Tonelli– organised a hybrid in person and virtual event Women in Synodality on the contribution of women in key leadership and advisory roles in the Catholic Church’s Synod on Synodality 2021-2023. HE Ambassador Chiara Porro moderated the panel which included five women who have been appointed to roles in the Synod of Bishops and the Synod on Synodality: Sr Nathalie Bequart XMCJ (Undersecretary, Synod of Bishops); Sr Patricia Murray IBVM (Spirituality Commission, Synod on Synodality and Executive Secretary of the International Union of Superiors General); Sr Beatrice Faye CIC (Theological Commission, Synod on Synodality and member of the Groupe Africain de Recherche en Philosophie Interculturelle); Dr Myriam Wijlens (Consultor, Synod of Bishops and theologian and Professor of Canon Law at the University of Erfurt); and Susan Pascoe AM (Methodology Commission, Synod on Synodality and President of the Australian Council for International Development). The event was followed by around 350 participants from all over the world, and included a Q&A session with the speakers. The recording of the event is available here:

 

30 November 2021 - Abolition of the Death Penalty

 On Tuesday 30 November 2021, HE Ambassador Chiara Porro participated in the webinar event No Justice without Life organised by the Community of Sant’Egidio as part of the 'Cities for Life' campaign. Australia opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and the Australian Embassy to the Holy See was pleased to partner with Sant’Egidio in a call to action for the abolition of the death penalty. HE Ambassador Chiara Porro spoke in front of the Colosseum ahead of its illumination to mark the 'Cities for Life' event.      

 

19 November 2021 - Tracey Rowland is awarded the Ratzinger Prize

In November 2021, Australian Professor Tracey Rowland, a theologian and Professor at the University of Notre Dame, travelled to Rome to accept the 2020 Ratzinger Prize from Pope Francis. Professor Rowland is the first Australian and only third woman to have won this prestigious prize. Following the award ceremony, Ambassador Porro hosted Professor Rowland and a group of students from Australia and New Zealand, who are currently undertaking studies at Pontifical Universities in Rome. It was an opportunity for the students to engage with an eminent theologian from our region.   

 

 

8 October 2021 – Bilateral Meeting Between Then Trade Minister the Hon Dan Tehan and Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul Gallagher

During his visit to Italy for the G20 Trade Ministers’ Meeting 2021, then Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan visited Vatican City and met with Holy See Secretary of State, HE Archbishop Paul Gallagher, to share perspectives on a range of issues affecting the Indo-Pacific region. This was the first ministerial visit to the Vatican in several years, as a result of the pandemic. It was also an opportunity to exchange views on bilateral relations ahead of the 50th anniversary of Holy See – Australia relations in 2023.  

 

 

24 September 2021 - World Day of Migrants and Refugees - Rosemary's Way

To mark the World Day of Migrants & Refugees on Friday 24 September, HE Ambassador Chiara Porro partnered with the Australian Catholic University to host a screening of the film Rosemary’s Way. This documentary highlights the work of migrant and refugee advocate, Rosemary Kariuki, who fled alone from Kenya to Australia in 1999. Following the screening of the film, the event also included a Q&A with three guest panellists: Rosemary Kariuki, Fr. Fabio Baggio (Holy See Undersecretary for Migrants and Refugees) and former refugee the Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM (Bishop of Parramatta).         

 

21 September 2021 – ‘We Run Together’ with Athletica Vaticana

Sport is one of the most important means of fostering social inclusion and empowerment. Australia, being a sporting nation, is keenly aware of its potential. HE Ambassador Chiara Porro regularly engages with the Holy See sports team Athletica Vaticana and participated in their "We Run Together" initiative in September. Ambassador Porro ran in the 4x400m non-competitive relay that featured athletes of all abilities & backgrounds alongside Sr Marie-Théo, Sara Carnicelli and Sara Vargetto.

The next decade will be a “green and gold decade” for Australian sport - we will host several of the biggest international sporting events – the UCI Road World Championships and Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup in 2022, the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023, the Netball World Cup in 2027 and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Brisbane in 2032.

 

12-14 September 2021 - G20 Interfaith Forum Bologna

From Sunday 12 September to Tuesday 14 September, HE Ambassador Chiara Porro attended the G20 Interfaith Forum 2021 (IF20) in Bologna, Italy. The conference brings together important dimensions of the G20 process as it examines how religion and foreign policy intersect to create a space of encounter and interfaith dialogue. This year, the theme was “A Time to Heal” and over 730 religious leaders, professionals, academics, activists and government representatives took part in the eighth annual conference.  

 

 

 

4-11 July 2021 - NAIDOC Week 

This year's NAIDOC Week theme is "Heal Country', and the importance of greater protections for our land, waters, sacred sites and cultural heritage. Watch the video to hear from John Lochowiak, Chairperson of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council, on his contribution as an Indigenous faith leader to a meeting organised by the Holy See on climate change.

30 June - 2 July 2021 - International Safeguarding Conference

The International Safeguarding Conference (ISC) is an annual event which brings together Church leaders, safeguarding professionals, trauma specialists and others to share knowledge and best practice in the preventing and tackling of abuse of children and vulnerable adults.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 conference was a hybrid event consisting of online presentations and a final event in Rome. As in the past, the Australian Embassy to the Holy See was pleased to lend its support to the organisers of this year's conference. You can watch some of the presentations from this year's event on YouTube and learn more here.

Thursday 3 June 2021 - Sisters Empowering Women Series Webinar: "Educating for Human Flourishing"

On Thursday 3 June, the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) hosted a Sisters Empowering Women Series Webinar: "Educating for Human Flourishing," which was moderated by HE Ambassador Chiara Porro. Watch on YouTube at: http://directenglish.uisg.link

See also the pre-event interview between UISG and Ambassador Porro:

 

 

24 May 2021 -  Former Prime Minister marks Bicentenary of Catholic Education in Australia

 

19 May 2021 – Visit to the Vatican Observatory

HE Ambassador Chiara Porro and the Embassy team visited the Vatican Observatory in May, which was a great opportunity to learn more about the history of astronomy. Vatican Observatory Director Br Guy Consolmagno and his team shared the history of the Observatory as well its incredible library collection – including early editions of Isaac Newton’s books – and the remarkable contributions of Jesuits such as Fr Angelo Secchi, a pioneer in the field of astrophysics and probably ‘the most famous scientist you have never heard of’.

The visit was also an opportunity to discuss the Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKA) which will be built in Australia. SKA project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, with eventually over a square kilometre of collecting area. The scale of the SKA represents a huge leap forward in both engineering and research & development towards building and delivering a unique instrument. As one of the largest scientific endeavours in history, the SKA will bring together a wealth of the world’s finest scientists, engineers and policy makers to bring the project to fruition.

 

21 May 2021 - Challenges and Opportunities for Insular Peoples

On Friday 21 May 2021, the Holy See's Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the Anglican Centre Rome co-hosted an Island States webinar entitled "Building Fraternity; Defending Justice: Challenges and Opportunities for Insular Peoples," giving voice to Island Nations of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The Australian Embassy was pleased and honoured to have been able to assist in securing a valuable contribution by Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor.

 

12 May 2021 - Caritas Internationalis in the Pacific

On Wednesday 12 May 2021, Caritas Internationalis and the Australian Embassy to the Holy See jointly hosted a webinar: How does integral ecology shape our work in the Pacific region? Guest speakers included HEm Cardinal Soane Patita Paini Mafi, Bishop of Tonga, HE Chiara Porro, Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, Mr Aloysius John, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, HE Archbishop Peter Loy Chong, Archbishop of Suva and Ms Kirsty Robertson, CEO Caritas Australia.

25 April 2021 - ANZAC Day

ANZAC Day, a day of great significance to Australians and New Zealanders, was observed in Rome with a small Commemoration Service hosted by the Embassies of New Zealand and Australia. The ceremony can still be viewed on the Facebook page of the Australian Embassy to Italy.

 

25 March 2021 - Caring for the Oceans

On Thursday 25 March, HE Ambassador Chiara Porro participated in the webinar: "Caring for the Oceans: A public conversation inspired by Aqua fons vitae." Organised by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, in conjunction with the Ambassadors of Italy, Monaco and Australia to the Holy See, the webinar was part of a broader series of events to celebrate World Water Week.

Given the importance of oceans to Australia and in our region, the Embassy is pleased to highlight the participation of Ms Amelia Ma’afu, Director of Caritas Tonga, in representation of Caritas Oceania, and Australia's Dr Stuart Minchin, Director General of the Pacific Community.

For more information, including on other conversations inspired by Aqua fons vitae: Five public conversations inspired by Aqua fons vitae - Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development

 

8 March 2021 - International Women's Day

Happy International Women’s Day! This year we reflect on @unwomen’s global theme ‘Women in Leadership: achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.’ Hear from some of the female Ambassadors accredited to the Holy See as they reflect on Pope Francis and his call for greater roles for women in Church leadership. #WomenLead #IWD2021

We celebrated #InternationalWomensDay2021 this year by hosting the webinar: “An equal future in a COVID-19 world: Champions of Change Choosing to Challenge.” Ambassador Porro moderated a panel who spoke about the winds of change and support for women in leadership within the Holy See, as encouraged by Pope Francis. An audience of over 130, drawn from the Curia, Holy See Diplomatic Corps, religious and lay communities, NGOs and media participated as Ambassador Porro challenged the panel to reflect on the changes that have occurred, and how more change can be encouraged. View the webinar in its entirety. Speeches, transcripts and English translations will soon be made available where required. Guest speakers were:
His Eminence Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops
Sr Nathalie Becquart, Undersecretary, Synod of Bishops
Dr Francesca Di Giovanni, Undersecretary for the Multilateral Sector, Section for Relations with States – Holy See Secretariat of State
His Excellency Bishop Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture
Sr Alessandra Smerilli, Coordinator of the Economy Task-Force of the Vatican COVID-19 Commission

 

26 January 2021 - Australia Day

On #AustraliaDay we reflected  on and celebrated the Australian spirit, which this year we  chose to do by focusing on one of the things we Australians love - sport! With access to sport severely affected by the pandemic, we decided to partner with the Pontifical Council for Culture and Sport at the Service of Humanity (SSH) to provide sport related education packs, featuring inspiring Australian athletes, to children in the Philippines who have been unable to attend school during lockdown. SSH, a Holy See affiliated organisation promoting sport and the values of faith around the globe, was born out of the 2016 Vatican Conference: Sport at the Service of Humanity. Watch highlights from this international conference, which was held inside the Vatican in conjunction with the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee. Learn more about how the Embassy celebrated Australia Day by following HE Ambassador Chiara Porro on Twitter @AusAmbHolySee

 

4 December 2020 - "The Other Marys" MacKillop and Ward

On 4 December, the Australian and British Embassies to the Holy See hosted a webinar
"The Other Marys: St Mary of the Cross MacKillop and The Venerable Mary Ward"
for around 300 participants, drawn from the Roman Curia, Diplomatic Corps, Italian Government,  NGOs, academia, Australian and British diaspora and local media.

Melbourne-born Mary MacKillop founded the Sisters of Saint Joseph in the 1800s to work ‘wherever there was a need.’
Mary Ward was a sixteenth century Yorkshirewoman, born at a time of conflict for Catholics in England, who, inspired by the Society of Jesus, devoted herself to active ministry.

The two Marys were both pioneering women of their time, forging new ways for women to live the religious life. This event looked at their lives and missions, and reflected on their legacy for women today.

Read the Q&A summary and speeches by our esteemed presenters: 

Sr Maria Casey RSJ, Canon Lawyer and final Postulator of the Cause for canonization of Mary MacKillop

Sr Jane Livesey  CJ (English Province), General Superior Congregatio Jesu and Sr Noelle Corscadden ibvm, Superior General Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Loreto

Dr Katharine Massam, Academic Dean, Associate Professor of History, University of Divinity

Rev. Sr. Carmen Ros Nortes, Under-Secretary - Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life

 

NAIDOC Week 2020

Pope Francis speaks often about the value of indigenous knowledge. Australia's Indigenous peoples have been caring for our land for 65,000 years. Watch our NAIDOC Week video to hear Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Holy See voices.

 

22 October 2020 - National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse - Anniversary

On 22 October 2018, then Australia’s Prime Minister apologised to victims of child sexual abuse. He admitted we had failed to protect the most vulnerable, and acknowledged the suffering of victims. Read the National Apology at National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse text (childabuseroyalcommissionresponse.gov.au) and view Ambassador Porro's statement here.

 

17 October 2020 – 10th anniversary of Mary MacKillop’s canonisation

St Mary of the Cross MacKillop was canonised in Rome on 17 October 2010, becoming Australia’s first canonised Saint. It was an unforgettable day in St Peter’s square, full of people, her followers and wellwishers from around the world. Her story is a remarkable one, which resonates even more today. From her courage and perserverance in the face of adversity, to her care and dedication to those on the margins of society, she fought the stereotype of a ‘proper sister’, focusing instead on where her efforts were most needed, and using education to fight poverty. She was not afraid to speak out, and stand for her convictions. Mary, we hope your story will continue to inspire generations in the years ahead. We have prepared this short video to mark the occasion – watch it in full here - https://youtu.be/FeXTTeWLpqI 

 

27 August 2020 – Commemorating Mary MacKillop and Indigenous Australia while presenting Credentials to HH Pope Francis

On 27 August 2020, HE Ambassador Chiara Porro was pleased and honoured to meet His Holiness Pope Francis when she presented her Letters of Credence. Ambassador Porro took advantage of the occasion to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the canonisation of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, who was canonised as Australia’s first Catholic Saint on 17 October 2010. Ambassador Porro presented His Holiness with a relic of St Mary MacKillop, a small piece of one of the habits that St Mary wore. The Ambassador also celebrated Australia’s Indigenous culture by presenting Pope Francis with a book of poetry from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth entitled ‘Homeland Calling’. 

 

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