Photo: Sr. Nathalie Becquart (National Service for Youth Evangelization and Vocations, Bishop’s Conference, France) with Fr. Willie Purcell (National Vocations Coordinator for Ireland) at the World Meeting of Families in 2018
Pope Francis has appointed Xaviere Missionary Sr Natalie Becquart to be one of the two new Under-Secretaries of the Synod of Bishops. She was Director of the National Service for the Evangelization of Youth and for Vocations (SNEJV) at the French Bishop’s conference.
Currently headed by Cardinal Mario Grech, the Synod of Bishops is a permanent institution established by Pope Paul VI in 1965, in response to the desire of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council to keep alive the spirit of collegiality engendered by the conciliar experience. The appointment of Sr Natalie Becquart is particularly interesting as it is the first time ever a woman has been appointed to this position and will be the first woman with a right to vote at a meeting of the Synod of Bishops.
Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops
Pope Francis, Cardinal Grech responded, has “highlighted several times the importance that women be more involved in the processes of discernment and decision-making in the church,” and in recent synods, the number of women participating as nonvoting experts or and observers has increased. “With the appointment of Sister Nathalie Becquart and the opportunity that she will participate with the right to vote, a door has been opened,” Cardinal Grech said. “We will then see what other steps could be taken in the future.”