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New Australian Ambassador to the Holy See hopes to push for synod on the Pacific

Chiara Porro, Australia's newest ambassador to the Holy See, presented her credentials to Pope Francis last Aug. 27. She was accompanied by her husband and kids, her parents and her husband's family.

Australian Ambassador to the Holy See
“Pope Francis was very welcoming of them, and he actually said to me after that he really valued the fact that I brought them along.”

The ambassador says they covered a wide range of topics during their meeting, from the pope's forthcoming encyclical and engaging with the youth, to the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.

Australian Ambassador to the Holy See
“One idea that I've sort of been discussing with a few people is potentially pushing for a synod on the Pacific down the track—something along those lines, you know, because of the climate change issue, the anniversary of Laudato si', and also the fact it is one of these frontier regions, which I think Pope Francis is so focused on.”

The young ambassador says her aim during her mandate is to show the world a more complete picture of the Catholic Church in Australia, including the important role of the Church in the Pacific's small island communities.

Australian Ambassador to the Holy See
“One in five Australian kids are educated in a Catholic institution at some point as they're growing up. In the healthcare sector, 10 percent of healthcare is provided by Catholic organizations. So yeah, they're an important contributor to Australian society, and that, I think, is not often talked about or recognized.”

Australia and the Vatican's joint agenda includes other issues like human rights, human trafficking, modern slavery and sustainable development.

Porro was born in northern Italy and moved to Australia with her family when she was three. She spent some of her teenage years in Indonesia. She confides that one of the things she loves about her new role is being able to inspire, especially young people interested in the diplomatic service, and prove that “a young woman from a diverse background can do the job.”