Pope Francis has appointed a woman for the first time as undersecretary to the Synod of Bishops, a significant post that has voting rights in the decision-making body.
Nathalie Becquart, a French sister, will now have a say in forming key decisions in the Catholic Church. The Synod provides key counsel to the Pope on a number of thorny issues about questions of official church doctrine, such as gay acceptance, divorce, and treatment of divorced and married Catholics among many others.
Also appointed as undersecretary was Luis Marín de San Martín, who is a priest from Spain.
— Vatican News (@VaticanNews) February 6, 2021
The head of the Synod, Cardinal Mario Grech, said that the appointment of Becquart could be a precedent in having more women participation in the body.
“With the appointment of Sr Nathalie Becquart, and the possibility that she will participate with the right to vote, a door has been opened. We will then see what other steps could be taken in the future,” he said.
Grech noted that during the last Synods, “numerous synodal fathers emphasized the need that the entire Church reflect on the place and role of women within the Church.”
“Even Pope Francis highlighted several times the importance that women be more involved in the processes of discernment and decision making in the Church,” he added.
Becquart has reportedly been a consultant to the Synod since 2019. The 52-year-old, a member of the France-based Xaviere Sisters, has a master’s degree in management from the HEC business school in Paris.
Last month, Pope Francis also issued a decree that allowed the church to give women a more active role by being readers at liturgies, altar servers, and distributors of communion.