July 17, 2018

Two professors from the Columbus School of Law have participated in meetings at the United Nations in New York this past year. Regina Jefferson, interim dean of the law school, and Lucia Silecchia, professor of law, have both been designated as “experts” for the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, an organization which represents the central governing body of the Catholic Church at the U.N. Headquarters.

Jefferson has served as a tax expert for the mission since 2017. She was recommended for the position by Silecchia, who has served as an expert on forests, disability rights, and the elderly since 2016.

As experts in their fields, both Jefferson and Silecchia attend U.N. meetings pertaining to their designated subject areas, and prepare reports advising the permanent observer mission on new trends and developments discussed at those meetings, especially if there are any discussions that might directly impact issues of concern to the Holy See.

Being able to attend and participate in meetings at the U.N. is a “gratifying” experience, said Jefferson, who attended her fourth meeting this spring.

“I believe one views the world very differently after sitting in meetings at the United Nations, and hearing issues of taxation addressed from so many different vantage points,” she said. “This experience also has exposed me to another aspect of the Catholic Church. Although I have been Catholic all of my life, until I served as an expert for the Mission, I never fully appreciated the importance of the role of the Holy See in this international forum.”

Silecchia attended her first U.N. meeting in December 2016. She enjoys working as an expert because it allows her to serve the Church while also learning more about current issues facing the world. Attending the meetings has given her a new appreciation for the work of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See, and the unique perspective the Church has to offer the world.

“When you hear nations speak about their position on different issues, you can tell what’s driving them, whether it’s economics or politics or demographics,” Silecchia said. “The Holy See’s perspective is putting the human person first no matter where in the world they live. Having that as an overriding concern gives the Holy See a very different role from some of the other mission’s to the U.N.”

Silecchia also said that working as an expert has widened her perspective.

“Coming from my American perspective, I know our specific concerns that are very important here,” she said. “But when I go to a global forum and learn how these issues impact people in other countries very different from mine, I realize my perspective is very narrow. Five minutes into listening to people representing other countries I realize that there’s a lot I’ve never thought about.”