On Tuesday the Vatican announced Pope Francis’ appointment of two lay women — experts in bioethics and canon law — as the first two under-secretaries of the mega-dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. The appointment of Dr. Gabriella Gambino for the section on life and Dr. Linda Ghisoni for the section on laity was announced in a Nov. 7 Vatican communique, bringing the leadership of the dicastery more clearly into shape after it's establishment in 2016.
The Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life officially began its work Sept. 1, 2016, replacing the former Pontifical Council for the Laity and Pontifical Council for the Family, which were dissolved. The department is responsible for projects relating to the apostolate of laity, families, and the institution of marriage, within the Church, and is responsible for the organization of events such as the World Meeting of Families, which will take place in Dublin in August 2018.
Both Gambino and Ghisoni join dicastery secretary Fr. Alexandre Awi Mello and prefect Cardinal Kevin Farrell, in leading the department. However, the appointment of a third under-secretary for the section on family is still forthcoming.
Gambino, 49, is currently a professor at the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences, is a professor of bioethics at the Faculty of Philosophy, and a researcher and associate professor in the philosophy of law at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata.” Originally from Milan, she holds a doctorate in bioethics from the Institute of Bioethics at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome.
From 2001-2007, she taught and did research at the Institute of the Methodology of Social Sciences of the LUISS-Guido Carli University in Rome, and in 2002 was appointed scientific expert of the National Committee for Bioethics at the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. Gambino collaborated with the former Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Academy for Life from 2013-2016. She is married with five children, and has written numerous publications on the themes of life, family and marriage. In addition to Italian, she speaks five other languages.
Dr. Linda Ghisoni, 52, works as a judge at the First Instance Court of the Vicariate of Rome, as a professor of canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and as a professor of law at Roma Tre University. She is from the town of Cortemaggiore in the north of Italy and studied philosophy and theology at the Eberhard-Karls-University in Tübingen, Germany. In 1999 she received a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University, and in 2002 she received the diploma of Rotary Attorney at the Studium rotale of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.
Since 1997 Ghisoni has held various positions at the Tribunals of First Instance and Appeal of the Vicariate of Rome, including Notary, Defender of the Bond, Auditor and Judge. She has also served as Judicial Counselor at the Tribunal of the Roman Rota from 2002-2009, and Commissioner of the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments for the Defense of the marital bond in causes for the dissolution of the marriage “ratum sed non consummatum” (ratified but not consummated). Since November 2011, she has also worked at the Tribunal of the Roman Rota. From 2013-2016, she collaborated with the former Pontifical Council for the Laity in the field of specialist laity studies in the Church. She is married and has two daughters.