Pope Francis has appointed more women to high-ranking posts in the Catholic Church, as part of an ongoing move to empower women in what has traditionally been a male-dominated institution.
Two women have now been given Vatican posts that were previously only held by men, marking a notable move forward for the Church.
On Saturday, February 6, Pope Francis appointed Nathalie Becquart, a French member of the Xaviere Missionary Sisters, as co-undersecretary for the Synod of Bishops, a department responsible for preparing major meetings of world bishops, which are held every few years on various topics.
Becquart’s position is effectively a joint number two spot, meaning she will have the right to vote in the all-male assemblies, Reuters reports. This is something many women and some bishops have been wanting for some time.
Speaking with Vatican News, Becquart said that she felt her appointment signified growing ‘confidence in women in the Church’.
She also went on to state that she believed Pope Francis to be listening and responding, marking a step forward for the Catholic Church with ‘women and men together to serve the common good of the world’.
Becquart’s appointment is also notable on account of her age. At 52, she is regarded to be relatively young by the standards of the Vatican.
The day before Becquart’s appointment, on Friday, February 5, Pope Francis named Italian magistrate Catia Summaria as the first female Promoter of Justice to serve in the Vatican’s Court of Appeals, the second level of judgment in the Vatican’s tribunal system.
Summaria, 73, has had a lengthy career as a prosecutor in Italy, the Catholic News Agency reports. She served as judicial auditor from 1980 to 1989 before being named deputy prosecutor at the District Prosecutor’s Office of Rome.
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