On 6th February 2021 the Vatican announced that Sister Nathalie Becquart, a French Xavière Sister, has been appointed the first female undersecretary to the Synod of Bishops. The Synod of Bishops was established after Vatican II as a consultative body for the pope, who can call them to meet and discuss a contemporary topic. Recently they have met on the topics of families and evangelisation (2014 and 2015), young people and faith (2018), and issues for the Pan-Amazon region (2019). The pope can declare that the final documents of these assemblies become part of the magisterium (teaching authority) of the Church.
Sister Nathalie Becquart was a consultant to the General Secretariat of the Synod during the Special Assembly in 2018. She has worked for the French Bishops’ Conference as director of youth evangelisation and vocations. Her new role places her in a position of decision-making beyond the scope permitted to any woman previously: she may be eligible to vote in the next assembly of the Synod of Bishops. The next topic for the Synod of Bishops is likely to be synodality.
Other women who serve in undersecretary roles include Our Lady of Consolation Sr. Carmen Ros Nortes, at the Congregation for Religious, and Linda Ghisoni and Gabriella Gambino, at the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. (These roles are permanent roles in the Roman Curia (Church bureaucracy in Rome) and are not involved in synods or assemblies of bishops.)