Vatican: Nathalie Becquart, a French nun promoted to the Curia by the Pope

Sister Nathalie Becquart during her meeting with Pope Francis in October 2018 in Rome.

© Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA 4.0 Nathalie Becquart

Text by: Éric Senanque

5 mins

It's a small revolution in the Church: Pope Francis appointed on Saturday February 7 a woman as undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, the Vatican body that brings together bishops to debate major debates in the Church: Nathalie Becquart , a French nun.

This choice marks one more step in the feminization of the Curia desired by the Argentine Pope.


Read more

Sister Nathalie Becquart is already familiar with the Synod of Bishops.

At the end of 2018, she participated in this assembly to reflect on the

place of young people in the Church

, before being appointed the following year among the college of consultants of this very masculine body.

His appointment as undersecretary (that is, number two, the secretary being a cardinal) is thus an event.

For the first time in the history of the Church, in fact, a woman will be able to vote on the texts that are debated during synods.

Until now, women, invited to Rome during these great assemblies, among bishops and cardinals from all over the world, were confined to being able to express themselves, but had no right to vote on the crucial texts debated within the Church.

A situation that raised more and more internal criticism, such as the Italian historian and feminist Lucetta Scaraffia, invited to the 2015 synod on the family.


a vitriolic story

published in the daily

Le Monde

, she regretted that women were "

 almost invisible 


By appointing the French nun, Pope Francis is therefore sending a strong sign: the Curia must make more room for women.

 With the appointment of Sister Nathalie Becquart and her possibility of participating with the right to vote, a door has been opened, 

” commented Maltese Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod, in an interview with official Vatican media.

Involve women in decision-making

The French nun has been in Rome for the past few days and is ready to get to work.

Shortly after the announcement of her appointment, she explained that she saw it as "

 a sign of confidence for women in the Church, for nuns

 " on the part of Pope Francis and his desire to involve women in decision-making. within the ecclesial hierarchy.

Born in Fontainebleau in 1969, Nathalie Becquart studied at HEC and at the same time studied philosophy at the Sorbonne.

After a year of volunteering in Lebanon where she teaches maths and French in a Catholic school, she works as a consultant in a marketing and advertising agency for NGOs and Christian organizations.

It was in 1995 that she entered religious life by pushing the door of the Institut la Xavière, a congregation founded 100 years ago and which, like the Jesuits, is influenced by the spirituality of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.

►Also listen

: Accents d'Europe - Women and the Church: Europe divided on the place to be given to them

Attending several student chaplaincies, the young nun will, from 2008 to 2012, be responsible for youth ministry and vocations within the conference of bishops of France.

His dynamic profile is spotted in Rome.

His curriculum is in perfect resonance with the Church that Pope Francis wishes.

A specialist in "synodality"

Derived from the Greek


, which means “to

 walk together 

”, the Synod of Bishops was established in the Vatican by Pope Paul VI in 1965. Francis, who canonized his predecessor in Saint Peter's Square in 2018, at the end of the Synod on Young People, pays very close attention to this consultative structure of the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis at the synod meeting in the Vatican, October 3, 2018. REUTERS / Tony Gentile

For several years now, the Sovereign Pontiff has been insisting on the necessary “ 

synodal process 

” which must become a rule for settling internal debates, in the broadest possible way, while allowing reflection to mature.

Francis insists on the “

 need to listen

 ”, including minority points of view during these synodal assemblies where the great debates of the Church are played out, such as access to communion for the divorced-remarried or the possibility of 'ordain married men to the priesthood.

►Also listen: Religions du monde - François et le monde d'Après

Last year, Sister Nathalie Becquart took a course in ecclesiology at Boston University, specializing in the question of synodality.

A more synodal Church is “

 a Church that is attentive, inclusive, welcoming, creative, engaged with the poorest and which fights against injustices

 ” wrote the nun before the synod on the Amazon organized at the Vatican in October 2019. The Pope Argentinian has never made a secret of his desire to promote more women in the Vatican.

As number two of the Synod of Bishops, Sister Nathalie Béquart becomes one of the new faces of the slow feminization of the Roman Curia.

At 52, the nun is also one of the youngest.


Receive all the international news directly in your mailbox

I subscribe

Follow all the international news by downloading the RFI application


  • Vatican

  • Women

  • Womens rights

  • Pope Francis

  • Religion

  • christianity

On the same subject

Vatican: Pope Francis to create thirteen new cardinals next month

International guest

The Pope in favor of a "civil union" for gays: "a more explicit position because of the balance of power with the Curia"