Breaking with tradition, Pope Francis has appointed Frenchwoman Nathalie Bequart as an understreet in the diocese of the diocese, the first woman to hold office, and voting rights.
The 52-year-old is one of two new underscretaries named the Synod, the body of bishops who study the major questions of doctrine and where he is a consultant since 2019.
Synod General Secretary Cardinal Mario Grech said Saturday’s appointment indicates the pontiff’s desire “for greater participation in women’s participation in the church and in the decision-making process”.
“During previous congregations, there has been an increase in the number of women attending as experts and listeners,” he said.
“With the nomination of Sister Nathalie Bequart and her possibility to participate in the voting, a door has opened.”
The Synod is headed by Bishops and Cardinals who have voting rights and includes experts who cannot vote.
The Argentine-born pope has expressed a desire to reform the synagogue and keep women and play a larger role in the church.
The pope nominated the Spaniard Luis Marin de San Martin as the other underscritary.
A member of the France-based Xaviere Sisters, Becart holds a master’s degree in management from the prestigious HEC Business School in Paris and studied in Boston before joining the Order.