Pope Francis February 6 appointed a Spanish priest and a French religious sister as under-secretaries of the Synod of Bishops.
It is the first time a woman has held a position of this level within the general secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.
Father Luis Marín de San Martín and Sister Nathalie Becquart will replace Bishop Fabio Fabene, who was named secretary of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints in January.
Working with and under secretary general Cardinal Mario Grech, Marín and Becquart will prepare the Vatican’s forthcoming synod on synodality, scheduled for October 2022.
In an interview with Vatican News, Cardinal Grech said in this position, Becquart will vote in future synods alongside other voting members, who are bishops, priests, and some religious men.
During the 2018 youth synod, some people asked why religious and consecrated women could not vote on the synod’s final document.
According to the canonical norms governing synods of bishops, only clerics – that is deacons, priests, or bishops – can be voting members.
Grech noted February 6 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 said.
“Already in the last synods, the number of women participating as experts or auditors increased. With the appointment of Sister Nathalie Becquart, and the possibility that she will participate with the right to vote, a door has been open,” Grech stated. “We will then see what other steps could be taken in the future.”
Sister Becquart, 51, has been a member of the Congregation of Xavieres since 1995.
She has been one of five consultors, four of whom are women, to the general secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, since 2019.