Sr. Nathalie Becquart, XMCJ, a French Xaviere sister, was named undersecretary to the Synod of Bishops on February 6, 2021. She is the first women to serve in such a role for the Synod of Bishops and the first woman to have a vote at the Synod of Bishops. Adding women to various leadership roles in the Vatican has been a theme for Francis. In August 2020, he appointed six women to the Vatican’s Council on the Economy. Previously, he had appointed Dr. Francesa Di Giovanni as undersecretary in the Secretariat of State. Sr. Becquart’s appointment, however, has garnered more attention because she is the first woman to have a vote in the production of church documents. Under article 18 of apostolic constitution Episcopalis Communio, documents from the Synod that are approved by the Pope become part of the ordinary magisterium of the church. Previously, the Synod of Bishops had produced documents that led to apostolic exhortations like Evangelii Gaudium and Verbum Domini. Sr. Becquart’s appointment means that a female, for the first time, has a vote on teaching that can become part of the ordinary magisterium. Asked in an interview with La Vie about the implications for her appointment, Sr. Becquart said, in part:

Il s’agit également de valoriser la diversité des vocations: déconnecter l’implication dans les processus de décision de l’ordination. Enfin, l’autre sous-secrétaire et moi-même sommes religieux : c’est le signe que la synodalité touche à la diversité des charismes, un enjeu qui est présent depuis Pierre et Paul!

[It is also about valuing the diversity of vocations: to disconnect involvement in decision making-processes from ordination. Finally, the other undersecretary and I are religious: it is a sign that synodality touches on a diversity of charisms, an issue that has been present since Peter and Paul!]

Read more on Vatican News. You can also read a reflection by Sr. Becquart on the 2018 synod on youth here, and about her ties to Boston College, where she is completing a licentiate in theology, here.

CNS photo/Paul Haring