Nathalie Becquart is a member of the Xavière Sisters, Missionaries of Jesus Christ in France. Before becoming a sister, she worked as a consultant in marketing and advertising. After entering, she did marketing for Paulist Press, was the national coordinator for a scouting program for poor urban youth, director of a university chaplaincy program, and a member of the bishop’s council of the Diocese of Nanterre, France.
She played a large role in the preparation for the 2018 Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment in Rome at the Vatican — as speaker, coordinator of the pre-synod, and observer at the synod. She was director of the national office for youth evangelization and vocations at the French Bishops’ conference from 2012 to 2018. Recently, Pope Francis appointed her, one of four women, as a consultor to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.
She is the first woman selected to serve as an undersecretary for the Vatican’s office. She hopes her appointment will help “open up new possibilities” for women in the Catholic Church.
The office of the Synod of Bishops is primarily tasked with helping organize synod meetings, which bring hundreds of Catholic bishops to Rome every few years to discuss topics chosen by the pope.
“Co-responsibility is the way we are going to work ahead,” said sr. Becquart, speaking at a briefing organized by the International Union of Superiors General, the Rome-based umbrella network of women’s religious orders across the world.
Asked about the question of whether the church might one day return to ordaining women as deacons,sr. Becquart referenced the two commissions that Francis has created to study that subject.
“I would say it’s part of an ongoing reflection,” said the new undersecretary. “The main question that has also been underlined by Pope Francis is how can we bring women to participate in the decision-making process and to be empowered?”
Sr.Becquart is now one of several women serving in undersecretary roles at the Vatican. Others include: Sr. Carmen Ros Nortes, at the Congregation for Religious, and Linda Ghisoni and Gabriella Gambino, at the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.
Although women have been appointed to synods in non-voting capacities as auditors or experts, none has yet served as a full voting member.
The synod office is led by Cardinal Mario Grech. Francis appointed sr. Becquart and Fr. Luis Marín de San Martín to share duties as the department’s second-in-command leaders. At the same time, the pope also made Fr. Luis Marín a bishop.