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Pope Promotes Women in the Church

The recent strides of Pope Francis assigning women to high positions signal a step in the right direction, a move forward towards a more inclusive Church where women assume effective participation.

In a move that endorses the participation of more women in high-ranking positions at the Vatican, Pope Francis has appointed a woman, Nathalie Becquart,  a member of the Xavière Sisters, Missionaries of Jesus Christ, as one of two new undersecretaries of the synod of bishops with the right to vote in the synod. It is the first time a woman can vote in the synod.

The pope has taken steps toward greater equality of women in the Catholic Church. Earlier in his pontificate, he set up commissions to study the history of women deacons in the early centuries of the Church, responding to calls by women that they be allowed to take up the role today.

Last year, he appointed six women to senior roles in the council that oversees the Vatican finances. He has also appointed women to the posts of deputy foreign minister, director of the Vatican Museums, and deputy head of the Vatican Press Office.

And in January this year, the Pontiff issued a decree allowing women to serve as readers at liturgies, altar servers, and distributors of communion, validating a practice already happening in many countries. 

The appointment of the 52-year-old nun highlights the determination of involving more women in the decision-making process in the Church and allowing their participation as experts or auditors in the synods. 

Women have participated as observers and consultants in past synods but only bishops and male representatives could vote on final documents sent to the pope. During the synod of 2018, more than 10,000 people signed a petition demanding that women be allowed to vote.

Commenting on this nomination, Cardinal Grech, the synod’s secretary-general, said: “The appointment of Sr. Nathalie Becquart as undersecretary will thus help us to remember in a concrete way that on this synodal way the voice of the People of God has a specific place and that it is fundamental to find ways to encourage the effective participation of all the baptized along this way.”

Asked what it was like to be the first woman to hold this position, Sr. Nathalie said she saw it as a sign and she felt the appointment signified “confidence in women in the Church.” 

The recent strides of Pope Francis assigning women to high positions signal a step in the right direction, a move forward towards a more inclusive Church where women assume effective participation. 


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