US Vatican Diplomatic Scholar Seeks to End Vatican's All-Male Diplomatic Service 

The World's First Oxford-Trained Vatican Diplomatic Scholar Has Petitioned Pope Benedict XVI for Assistance in Establishing a New Pontifical University, The Pontifical University of St. Catherine of Siena Exclusively for Training Vatican Women Diplomats--The Holy See Has No Women Diplomats

by Dna. Maria St. Catherine SHARPE Monday, April 27, 2009



Boston, Mass.--Serene Ecclesial Lady, Dna. Maria St. Catherine De Grâce Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T. an Oxford and Jesuit-trained, American Roman Catholic ecclesiastical diplomatic scholar, who has been quietly specializing in the research, study and analysis of Roman Catholic/Holy See/Vatican State pontifical ecclesiastical law, diplomacy and international human rights for over 20 years, and who has been trying to apply to the Holy See’s professional foreign service for nearly seven years, since she completed professional diplomatic studies at Oxford in 2002, with a specialization in Holy See diplomacy, finally decided this year to simply send a formal petition directly to Pope Benedict XVI, asking for the pope’s permission, and his pontifical assistance, in establishing a separate professional pontifical ecclesiastical diplomatic and human rights training institute for Catholic women—the first in the Church’s history—The Pontifical University of St. Catherine of Siena for the Professional Ecclesiastical Foreign Service Training and Diplomatic Formation of Catholic Women (PUSCS). The petition, sent in early March, was addressed to Pope Benedict XVI and was sent via priority U.S. Postal Mail.

The establishment of this first Vatican diplomatic training school for women would provide the Church with a cadre of professionally trained women diplomats for admission to the Holy See’s still all-male foreign service, and end for all time the Holy See’s formal and official 308-year old illegal policy, practice and procedure of the systemic exclusion of global Catholic women from admission to the Church’s official diplomatic and human rights training academy, the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, which serves as the official gateway for admission to the Church’s professional pontifical ecclesiastical foreign service ministry and diplomatic mission apostolate, which has never admitted women.

With the pope having just addressed the United Nations, and inspired by the fact that the Holy See and the U.S. commemorated 25 years of formal diplomatic relations on January 10, 2009, and complemented by the ethics and integrity of the fact that on February 20, 2009, the United Nations commemorated the first annual World Day of Social Justice, and that the Holy See will mark the 45th anniversary of its status as a Permanent Observer at the United Nations (and thus, obligated to be in compliance with the UN Charter), on April 6, 2009, Dna. Maria St. Catherine has great reason to hope for a positive papal reply.

In addition, she is intensely encouraged by the role played by external moral force and the diplomatic court of public opinion, and the fact that this historic reform initiative for Vatican foreign service diversity and affirmative action for women is coming from a U.S. Catholic citizen whose nation, at the time of its petition, is able to boast of having both a female Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and a recently departed Catholic female ambassador to the Holy See—Harvard Law Professor, Mary Ann Glendon. (Professor Glendon was the first U.S. ambassador to the Holy See to also be an attorney who specializes in international human rights law). For these reasons, and more, Dna. Maria St. Catherine is more than confident that the pontiff—in honor of, and in loyalty to, the Holy See’s public record of global diplomatic rhetoric (including his own) on gender equity and gender complementarity, which has been archived in the conscience of global humanity— will have the moral courage to assist her in establishing a formal and official professional mechanism for the international diplomtaic higher education, professional training, admission and integration of Catholic women into the Holy See’s still all-male foreign service.

The Roman Catholic ecclesial nation-state of the Universal Church of Rome, remains the last sovereign state to illegally exclude its women citizens from formal and official admission to their own nation’s professional national foreign service. The U.S. Foreign Service admitted women in 1922, and the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) followed suit in 1933. The Holy See was also recently surpassed by the highly gender restrictive Islamic Republic of Saudi Arabia, whose foreign ministry implemented firm measures to admit its women citizens to its national foreign service in 2006.

The proposed new Vatican diplomatic training institute, The Pontifical University of St. Catherine of Siena for the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Foreign Service Training and Diplomatic Formation of Catholic Women (PUSCS), would be the first Vatican diplomatic school for women ever established in the Church’s history. Indeed, it would be the Vatican’s first strategic pontifical ecclesiastical foreign service reform initiative for hierarchical diversity by gender and class in over 300 years-- and would come under the jurisdiction of The Pontifical Ecclesiastical Diplomatic Apostolate of Women & The Laity (PEDAWL), a new branch of the pontifical ecclesiastical foreign service, which Dna. Maria St. Catherine has also asked the Roman Pontiff to establish. Since the Holy See’s establishment of the PEA, under Pope Clement XI, exclusively for the training of male priests pontifical diplomatic representatives in April 1701, Catholic women and laymen have not had any means whatsoever for formal and official admission or integration into the Church’s global professional pontifical ecclesiastical foreign service ministry and diplomatic apostolate for over three-hundred years, and thus, have been illegally systematically excluded from it—despite the Church’s global human rights diplomatic rhetoric. This practice has caused the Church’s diplomatic mechanism to perpetuate the diplomatic gender apartheid of women, which contravenes the Church’s constitutional law, its official social doctrine and its own ecclesiastical human rights rules of law.

The Holy See has never hidden the fact that its professional foreign service has illegally been, and still is all-male. At this writing it currently lists the PEA’s all-male priest alumni on the PEA webpages of the Vatican website, www.vatican.va, from the year 1701 to at least 2002. Professional Catholic women and laymen have, through the years, on occasion been solicited to assist the official two-person diplomatic staff of the UN-New York and UN-Geneva apostolic nunciatures (ecclesiastical embassies) in their diplomatic representation at the United Nations. However, once commencing their duties these ad hoc special diplomatic attaches do not, and have never, become official paid, permanent full-time career professional members of the Holy See’s foreign service, allowed to complete formal diplomatic training at the PEA, listed in the Holy See’s official diplomatic listing published in the annual yearbook, the Annuario Pontificio, or given professional career status with the freedom to rotate to different nunciatures with an appropriated increase in rank, pay or diplomatic responsibilities. Thus, the concept of a career as a Catholic lay pontifical ecclesiastical foreign service officer or pontifical diplomatic representative has never heretofore existed.

The goal of the PEDAWL and the PUSCS is to make the concept of a career as a Catholic lay pontifical ecclesiastical foreign service officer or pontifical diplomatic representative with a specialization in such areas of expertise as Ecclesiastical Human Rights, Environmental Affairs, and Sustainable Development a reality for global Catholic women and laymen for the first time in the Holy See’s diplomatic history. The success of this initiative would allow global Catholic women and laymen an option for the first time of serving either in their secular (civil) nation’s professional foreign service or in the Universal Church of Rome’s ecclesial nation-state’s professional foreign service—or if career terms permit, both.

The establishment of the PEDAWL and the PUSCS would be the first ever major reform initiatives for gender and hierarchical diversity in the Catholic Church’s professional pontifical ecclesiastical foreign service ministry and diplomatic apostolate and is most profoundly morally, diplomatically and legally justified by the papal writings and pontifical initiatives of the late Pope John Paul II. Pope John Paul II’s most powerful, strategic and diplomatic jurisprudent coup d’grace to commence the end of the Holy See’s illegal systemic exclusion and diplomatic gender apartheid of Catholic women from exclusion from the Catholic Church’s all-male professional foreign and diplomatic service was his appointment, in 1994,of Harvard Law Professor, Mary Ann Glendon, to head the Holy See’s diplomatic delegation to the 1995 UN Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, China. Albeit a short-term plenipotentiary diplomatic appointment, this “Glendon Precedent” was a historical and profoundly significant smoking gun for three critical reasons: First, it officially confirmed for all time that there did not exist any prerequisite by the Magisterium of the Church for Catholic women to be ordained to the ministerial priesthood of the Catholic Church to qualify to serve in the Catholic professional pontifical ecclesiastical foreign service ministry and diplomatic mission apostolate of the Universal Church of Rome. This is the most popular assumed, yet grossly inaccurate, rationale held by the public as to why the Holy See has an all-male diplomatic service. But, the Glendon Precedent affirmed that Catholic women and laymen by the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation are made members of the common royal priesthood of Christ, which with the ministerial and hierarchical priesthood, participate together in the priesthood of Christ.

Thus, the Glendon Precedent affirmed that though women are not ordained to the priesthood in the Catholic Church, this was no reason to exclude them from admission to the Church’s ecclesiastical diplomatic apostolate. Second, the Glendon Precedent proved and established for all persons, times and places, that there did not exist any scriptural, theological, ecclesiastical, Magisterial, institutional, canonical, legal, gender, psychological, political, cultural, or any other impediment to Catholic women being admitted to, and serving in the Catholic professional pontifical ecclesiastical foreign service ministry and diplomatic mission apostolate of the Universal Church of Rome. Third, it served to witness and provide public evidentiary proof that the Holy See, heretofore, had engaged in the systemic exclusion and diplomatic gender apartheid of women from formal and official admission to the Holy See’s diplomatic service to such an extensive degree that it disposed the Holy See with no internal highly qualified career professional female ecclesiastical diplomatic representatives from which to choose to send to the UN’s 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women and thus Pope John Paul II’ naming of a representative from outside of the Holy See’s ecclesiastical foreign service. This state of affairs thus forced Pope John Paul II to have to choose a representative to the Conference who was not a career professional permanent, paid, full-time female ecclesiastical diplomatic representative, since the Church hadn’t ever admitted qualified Catholic women to its professional foreign service ministry and diplomatic mission apostolate.

With the establishment of the PEDAWL and the PUSCS the Catholic Church will enter a new and historic, long overdue era in its professional pontifical ecclesiastical foreign service and diplomatic history—an era of inclusive hierarchical diversity that incorporates the “indispensable feminine genius of women.” Reviewing the many papal documents, diplomatic speeches, ecclesiastical laws and doctrines promoting the cause and dignity of women that have been archived in the public conscience of global humanity, not least being, the May 21, 2004, Letter to the Bishops On the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World, and the publication in July 2004, of the Catholic Church’s Compendium on the Social Doctrine of the Church, one is easily appalled at the Holy See’s reticence and failure to yet establish a mechanism for the admission and integration of qualified Catholic women into the Church’s still all-male professional diplomatic service. The Compendium itself states that, “The feminine genius is needed in all expressions in the life of society, therefore the presence of women in the [diplomatic] workplace must also be guaranteed. The first indispensable step in this direction is the concrete possibility of access to professional [diplomatic] formation.” (Para. 295.) Dna. Maria St. Catherine feels confident that if the United States can forge the moral courage to elect its first African-American president in its 232-year history, with some encouragement from the U.S. Government, the United Nations, and the international community, the Holy See can surely forge the moral courage to now move to implement firm and effective measures to include women in its global ecclesiastical foreign service ministry and diplomatic mission apostolate allegedly committed to the enforcement and protection of international human rights.

In 2002, Dna. Maria St. Catherine, became the first American and first person ever to complete the Oxford University Foreign Service Programme with a specialization in Vatican Law & Diplomacy. As a European-born American Catholic, born in Spain on the April 29th, feast of St. Catherine of Siena—considered one of the Church’s first lay ecclesial diplomats--Dna. Maria St. Catherine, says that since Pope Benedict XVI traveled to the United States in April 2008 under the theme of “Christ Our Hope,” and President-elect Barack Obama has advocated change in his presidential election campaign and praised the virtue of hope in his book, “The Audacity of Hope,” as a pioneering Catholic African-American ecclesiastical diplomatic scholar, she is hoping that Pope Benedict XVI will grant her a private audience on April 29th, the feast fo St. Catherine of Siena, as she has requested, to discuss establishing a new diplomatic apostolate in the Church for women and the laity, which includes the establishment of the Pontifical University of St. Catherine of Siena. She hopes by this ecclesiastical human rights diplomatic higher education initiative she can lead the Holy See in ending for all time the Church’s 308-year old policy, practice and procedure of the systemic exclusion and diplomatic apartheid of women from admission to the Church’s diplomatic and human rights training academy and thus, their end their systemic exclusion from the Holy See’s professional foreign service ministry and diplomatic mission apostolate, before the new UN Human Rights Council takes the Holy See to task for not being in compliance with its own ecclesiastical, and the UN’s international, human rights rules of law,--especially the UN’s effort to end all forms of discrimination against women.

Last year in his comments commemorating the opening of the Seventh Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva being held from 3 March to 28 March, Secretary Ban-ki Moon “called on its members to ensure that all nations are held equally accountable for the protection of rights.” He stated, “No country, however powerful, should escape scrutiny of its record, commitments and actions on human rights.” In Chapter 1, Article 2, Para. 6, the UN Charter states that, “The Organization shall ensure that states which are not Members of the United Nations act in accordance with these Principles so far as may be necessary for the maintenance of international peace and security.” Sitting at the UN as a Permanent Observer for nearly 50 years, while perpetrating the systemic exclusion and diplomatic gender apartheid of women from your own state’s foreign and diplomatic service—which is divinely established to be a servant to humanity—when the UN and your own state’s ecclesiastical human rights rules of law have officially morally, legally and diplomatically upheld that the feminine genius of women is “indispensable” for the harmonious development of the global human family is not contributing to international peace and security.
The UN’s 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid holds the highest power of indictment against the Holy See’s 308-year practice of the systemic exclusion and gender apartheid of women from admission from its professional diplomatic service. In its preambular language the Convention classifies all forms of systemic discrimination, exclusion and segregation as forms of apartheid and categorizes all forms of apartheid as a crime against humanity. The Convention is in moral, legal and diplomatic doctrinal harmony with the Holy See’s own categorical condemnation of all forms of discrimination. In his 1965 Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes), Pope Paul VI admonishes that “every type of discrimination… must be eradicated as contrary to God’s intent.” Pope Paul VI condemns the effects of systemic discrimination stating that all forms of discrimination and “excessive economic and social differences between members of the one human family or population groups cause scandal, and militate against social justice, equity, the dignity of the human person, as well as social and international peace.” (Para. 29).

Contact:

The U.S. Institute for the Study of Vatican/Holy See International & Diplomatic Affairs, or

The UN World Heritage Institute for the Study of UN-Holy See International & Diplomatic Relations
(202) 679-1438



Serene Ecclesial Lady, Dna. Maria St. Catherine De Grace Sharpe, Amb. du Christ (Oxon), t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T., is a Vatican & Oxford-trained Ecclesiastical Diplomatic Scholar in Holy See/Vatican Pontifical Ecclesiastical Law, Diplomacy & International Human Rights who serves as the John Paul II Vatican Diplomatic Affairs & Ecclesiastical Human Rights World Mission Scholar.

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