For the first time ever, a woman has been appointed to hold a high position at the Synod of Bishops. The announcement was made by Pope Francis himself on Saturday, February 6.
Sr. Nathalie Becquart, a French religious sister, will take the role of Undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops alongside Fr. Luis Marín de San Martín, a Spanish priest. They will succeed Bishop Fabio Fabene, who was named secretary of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints last month.
According to Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, Becquart will represent the voice of the women in the Church. This means that she will have equal voting rights in future synods along with the other members— bishops, priests, and religious men. (Read: Pope Francis Appoints Six Women Leaders to Vatican Economic Council)
During the last Synods, numerous synodal fathers emphasized the need that the entire Church reflects on the place and role of women within the Church,” Grech said.
“Even Pope Francis highlighted several times the importance that women be more involved in the processes of discernment and decision making in the Church.” (Read: Pope Calls for More Women Participation in Church Affairs)
Natural Born Leader
Becquart has been a member of the Congregation of Xavieres since the year 1995. From 2012 to 2018, she also led as the director of the French bishops’ national service for the evangelization of young people and for vocations. (Read: Women’s Rights Around the World: How Far Have We Really Come?)
Her extensive background in youth ministry allowed Becquart to become a valuable asset in the congregation. As a matter of fact, in the year 2019, she and four other women have been appointed as consultors to the general secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.
Of all these, Becquart’s biggest project in the congregation was in the year 2018, when she took part in the preparations for the Synod of Bishops on young people, faith, and vocational discernment as an auditor and general coordinator of a pre-synod meeting.
Hope for the Future
True enough, Becquart’s appointment to a high-level position in the Synod of Bishops poses hope for more dialogues in the Catholic community. (Read: These Rural Women Are Making a Difference in Their Communities)
Grech himself says that her appointment will “undoubtedly” lead to other changes in the structure of the general secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.
“Already in the past synods, the number of women participating as experts or auditors increased. With the appointment of Sr. Nathalie Becquart, and the possibility that she will participate with the right to vote, a door has been open,” Grech said.
“We will then see what other steps could be taken in the future.”