Silvano Maria Tomasi

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The Most Reverend
Permanent Observer of Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva
Archbishop Tomasi at WIPO Dip Con in Marrakech.jpg
Archbishop Tomasi at WIPO Diplomatic Conference on the Treaty for the Blind in Marrakech
Installed 10 June 2003
Predecessor Diarmuid Martin
Ordination 31 May 1965
Consecration 17 August 1996
by Angelo Sodano
Personal details
Birth name Silvano Maria Tomasi
Born (1940-10-12) 12 October 1940 (age 73)
Casoni di Mussolente, Italy
Nationality Italian
Denomination Roman Catholic
Alma mater Fordham University
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}
Styles of
Silvano Tomasi
Mitre (plain).svg
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Archbishop
Posthumous style none

Silvano Maria Tomasi C.S. (12 October 1940 -) is a Catholic Archbishop. As of 2014 he was the Permanent Observer of Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva.


He was born in Casoni di Mussolente, Italy. On 31 May 1965 he was ordained as priest of the Congregation of the Missionaries of St. Charles. He earned his Ph.D. in sociology from Fordham University. He co-founded the Center for Migration Studies, and wrote a book on the historic legacy of New York's Italian parishes.

On 27 June 1989 he was appointed Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples by Pope John Paul II. He was appointed as Titular Archbishop of Cercina on the same day in 1996 and appointed as Apostolic Nuncio to Eritrea and Ethiopia, ordained on 17 August 1996, and transferred to the titular see of Acelum. He served in Eritrea and Ethiopia until he was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Djibouti on 23 December 2000, where he remained until he was appointed observer to the UN on 10 June 2003.

Tomasi is one of the very few nuncios appointed from outside the ranks of the Holy See's diplomatic service, and who did not attend the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, which trains the Holy See's diplomats; graduates include Michael Louis Fitzgerald, Aldo Giordano and Charles John Brown.

His brother Fr Lydio is pastor of Holy Rosary Church in Washington D.C.

He was widely criticised in September 2009 following a speech in which he sought to favourably compare the Church's record on child sex abuse with that of other organisations by arguing that "Of all priests involved in the abuses, 80 to 90 percent belong to this sexual orientation minority which is sexually engaged with adolescent boys between the ages of 11 and 17" and "As the Catholic church has been busy cleaning its own house, it would be good if other institutions and authorities, where the major part of abuses are reported, could do the same and inform the media about it."[1][2]

Archbishop Tomasi "encouraged passage of an international protocol that would give children a direct line of communication to local and international authorities when they are victims of violence or their rights are violated....Tomasi...said the measure "will become a significant instrument of the human rights system." The document is in addition to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Archbishop Tomasi spoke of it Monday, June 6, 2011 in Geneva during a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council...." [3]

Speaking on Wednesday, 8 June 2011 at the U.N. International Labor Conference in Geneva, Archbishop Tomasi urged that all involved in "the burgeoning and mercurial economic system" work to foster fundamental principles that ensure respect for the common good and protection of the most vulnerable.[4]

In 2014 the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a report[5] described as "a scathing indictment of the Vatican’s handling of child sexual abuse cases involving clerics, releasing a report that included criticism of church teachings on homosexuality, gender equality and abortion"[6] which was seen as an indictment of the Catholic Church’s handling of child sexual abuse cases involving clerics, going beyond how the church managed abuse allegations to include criticism of its teachings on homosexuality, gender equality and abortion. Archbishop Tomasi appeared before a U.N. committee in Geneva. Vatican officials said they were still studying the findings, but responded angrily to what they described as recommendations that were ideologically biased. Fr Thomas Rosica said that the U.N. report wrongly looked at Catholicism as a single organisation.[7] Tomasi said that he suspected pro-gay rights NGOs had influenced the committee and "reinforced an ideological line" in the UN.[8]

No matter how sophisticated autonomous weapons systems are, they can never comply with international human rights law. “Meaningful human involvement is absolutely essential in decisions affecting the life and death of human beings,” Archbishop Tomasi, told experts meeting May 13-16 to discuss lethal autonomous weapons systems such as drones. Archbishop Tomasi said it was essential “to recognise that autonomous weapon systems can never replace the human capacity for moral reasoning, including in the context of war.” “The development of autonomous weapon systems will ultimately lead to widespread proliferation,” the archbishop said, and “the development of complex autonomous weapon systems which remove the human actor from lethal decision-making is short-sighted and may irreversibly alter the nature of warfare in a less humane direction, leading to consequences we cannot possibly foresee, but that will in any case increase the dehumanisation of warfare.”[9]

Speaking to Vatican Radio in August 2014 Archbishop Tomasi commneted that "Maybe military action is necessary at this moment,".[10][11]


Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Diarmuid Martin
Permanent Observer of Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva
10 June 2003 – present