Pia de Solenni, SThD, a gifted theologian, author and expert on bioethics and the new feminism, has been appointed to serve as Chancellor of the Diocese of Orange, a post which is the highest office available to a lay person within the Catholic Church.
The Diocese of Orange made the announcement on Monday that Dr. de Solenni had been chosen by the Most Reverend Kevin Vann, Bishop of Orange, to serve as Chancellor effective August 28. She is currently serving as theological consultant to the Office of the Bishop.
In her new post, she will serve as the most senior lay administrative leader in the diocese with duties including lead administrator/secretary of the Curia, official archivist and record keeper, and strategic and theological advisor to the Bishop.
“Pia is an inspirational and well-respected theologian and has proven herself a thoughtful and humble leader within our Church,” said Bishop Vann. “We are blessed as a Diocese to benefit from her expertise, passion, and faith. I look forward to the many gifts that she will continue to bring to bear in service to the people of Orange.”
In her role as chancellor Dr. de Solenni will support the organizational and ministerial efforts of the Bishop in guiding the faith journey of the Diocese’s more than 1.3 million Catholics. She will also review and offer her observations of the bishop’s writings and teachings and render her opinion regarding questions of doctrine and dogma.
Dr. de Solenni received her doctorate in sacred theology, summa cum laude, from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. She received the 2001 Award of the Pontifical Academies for her doctoral work, presented by St. John Paul II.
With extensive experience in the areas of women’s health, bioethics, the new feminism, Catholicism and culture, she is a sought-after expert on these subjects. Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal Europe, The Washington Post, Crux, The National Catholic Reporter, Our Sunday Visitor and other respected publications.
“It is a tremendous honor to serve the Diocese of Orange as Chancellor. I am very grateful to Bishop Vann for his confidence in me and for giving me this opportunity,” said Dr. de Solenni.
This appointment is in keeping with Pope Francis’ vision for women’s involvement in the Church, which he recently said involves “expanding the spaces of a more incisive feminine presence.”
He added: “Woman, possessing special characteristics, can offer an important contribution to dialogue with her ability to listen, to welcome and to generously open herself to others.”
These qualities have never been so important as they are today, both inside and outside of the Church where divisions among the populace have become more numerous and contentious.
The need for a more decisive feminine presence in the Catholic world is a vision shared by Dr. de Solenni as well as many other Catholic women leaders such as Johnnette Benkovic, founder of Women of Grace® and the Benedicta Leadership Institute for Women which is dedicated to educating and training Catholic women to be active leaders and mentors of the day.
The Institute recently teamed with Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut to offer the first-of-its-kind certification and degree program in Catholic Women’s Leadership Studies designed to help women achieve the goal of “transforming the world one woman at a time.”
Thanks to the work and dedication of women like Dr. de Solenni, this transformation is well under way!
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