Pope Francis has broken with Catholic tradition to appoint a woman as an undersecretary of the synod of bishops, the first to hold the post with voting rights in a body that studies major questions of doctrine.
Frenchwoman Nathalie Becquart is one of the two new undersecretaries named Saturday to the synod, where she has been a consultant since 2019.
The appointment signals the pontiff’s desire “for a greater participation of women in the process of discernment and decision-making in the church”, said Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary-general of the synod.
“During the previous synods, the number of women participating as experts and listeners has increased,” he said.
“With the nomination of Sister Nathalie Becquart and her possibility of participating in voting, a door has opened.”
The synod is led by bishops and cardinals who have voting rights and also comprises experts who cannot vote, with the next gathering scheduled for autumn 2022. A special synod on the Amazon in 2019 saw 35 female “auditors” invited to the assembly, but none could vote.
The Argentinian-born pope has signaled his wish to reform the synod and have women and laypeople play a greater role in the church. He named Spaniard Luis Marin de San Martin as the other under undersecretary in the synod of bishops.
Becquart, 52, a member of the France-based Xaviere Sisters, has a master’s degree in management from the prestigious HEC business school in Paris and studied in Boston before joining the order.
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.