In another historic step to assign key positions in the Catholic church to lay people, Pope Francis has appointed a married layman, Vincenzo Buonomo, as the new rector of the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.
He is the first layperson ever to hold this important position in what John Paul II called “the pope’s athenaeum.” Some 3,000 seminarians, priests, women and men religious and lay students from 100 countries, including the United States, study at the university in Rome for degrees in theology, philosophy, civil and canon law.
The Vatican announced his appointment to lead the 245-year-old higher educational institution on June 2. He succeeds Archbishop Enrico dal Covolo, a Salesian, who served as rector of the Lateran University for the past eight years. Previous rectors include Cardinal Angelo Scola (1995-2002), the runner up in the 2013 conclave, and Archbishop Reno Fisichella (2002 -2010), president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization.Professor Buonomo, 57, is a both a civil and canon lawyer and a specialist in international law. He is a professor at the Lateran University and also teaches future Holy See diplomats in the field of international law at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in Rome. He has worked with the Holy See’s missions to various bodies at the United Nations since 1983 and has provided assistance to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Relations with States. He represents the Holy See at the Venice Commission, an advisory body of the Council of Europe, and at the Advisory Committee of the U.N. Council of Human Rights. He is also a consultor at the Commission for Dialogue with Muslims at the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.