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Catholic leader, Pope Francis, has appointed a frenchwoman, Nathalie Becquart as the undersecretary for the synod of bishops, an advisory body for the pope that debates major matters related to the Roman Catholic Church becoming the first woman to be appointed to the position.
The announcement was revealed by the Holy See’s dicastery for communication via its Twitter handle @VaticanNews.
The synod which studies major questions of doctrine, was established by Pope Paul VI in 1965, led by bishops and cardinals and consists of bishops who have voting rights and also experts who cannot vote.
The Argentinian-born pope has indicated his wish to reform the synod and have women and lay people play a greater role in the church.
With the appointment of 52-year-old Becqauart as undersecretary, she now has the right to vote in the Synod where she had been a consultant since 2019.
A Cardinal and the general secretary of the Synod
Mario Grech, in his reaction to the appointment of Becquart said “It signals the pontiff’s desire for a greater participation of women in the process of discernment and decision-making in the church.”
“Pope Francis has reminded us often that a synodal Church is a Church characterized by listening: by reciprocal listening by which everyone – the faithful, bishops and the Bishop of Rome – learns from each other; and above all, by listening to the Holy Spirit all together.
“The appointment of Sr Nathalie Becquart as Under-secretary 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.
“Already in the last synods, the number of women participating as experts or auditors increased. With the appointment of Sr Nathalie Becquart, and the possibility that she will participate with the right to vote, a door has been open. We will then see what other steps could be taken in the future.”
The pope also appointed Luis Marin de San Martin, a reverend, as the second undersecretary of the synod.
“Fr Luis Marín de San Martín has a vast experience in accompanying communities in decision making processes and his knowledge of the Second Vatican Council will be precious so that the roots of the synodal way remain always present,” the secretary general of the synod said.
“The fact that both Under-secretaries are religious, each one having matured in a specific spirituality, says how important it is that the synodal Church take into consideration the various charisms present in the Church as well.
“I would like that the three of us, and all of the staff of the Synod Secretariat, work out of the same spirit of collaboration and experience a new style of “synodal” leadership, a leadership of service that is less clerical and hierarchical, that allows participation and co-responsibility without at the same time abdicating the responsibilities entrusted to them.”
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