Pope Francis has appointed Sr Nathalie Becquart, the first-ever woman, and Fr Luis Marín de San Martín as Under-Secretaries of the Synod of Bishops, the Vatican News reports.
Currently headed by Cardinal Mario Grech, the Synod of Bishops is a permanent institution established by Pope Paul VI in 1965, in response to the desire of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council to keep alive the spirit of collegiality engendered by the conciliar experience.
The appointment of Sr Natalie Becquart is particularly interesting as it is the first time ever a woman has been appointed to this position.
The 52-year-old is one of the two new undersecretaries named to the synod, the body of bishops that studies major questions of doctrine and where she has been a consultant since 2019.
Saturday’s appointment signals the pontiff’s desire “for a greater participation of women in the process of discernment and decision-making in the church”, said Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary-general of the synod.
“During the previous synods, the number of women participating as experts and listeners has increased,” he said.
Sr Nathalie Becquart, born in 1969 in Fontainebleau, France, graduated from the HEC school of management with a Master in Management with a specialization in Entrepreneurship in Jouy-en-Josas in 1992 and went on to study philosophy at the Sorbonne University in Paris. Between 1992-1993 she spent her volunteer year in Beirut, Lebanon, working as a Professor of Mathematics and French in a Catholic High School and taking philosophy and theology courses at ISSR-St Joseph Jesuit University of Beirut. This was followed by two years working as a Consultant in a marketing and advertising agency for NGO’s and Christian organizations (EJC consulting) in Paris.
Nathalie Joined the Xaviere sisters, missionaries of Christ-Jesus (Apostolic Congregation of Ignatian Spirituality) in August 1995 and took her final vows in September 2005.
However, Luis Marín de San Martín, born in Madrid, Spain on August 21, 1961, professed temporary vows in the Order of St. Augustine on September 5, 1982, and solemn vows on November 1, 1985.
From 1982 to 1988 he studied Philosophy and Theology in the Seminario Mayor Tagaste (Los Negrales, Madrid). He was ordained a priest on June 4, 1988, by Mons. Francisco José Pérez y Fernández-Golfín, auxiliary bishop of Madrid. He belongs to the Augustinian Province of San Juan de Sahagún in Spain.
He received a Licentiate in Spiritual Theology from the Pontifical Comillas University in Madrid (1990); and another in Dogmatic Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome (1992); and a Doctorate in Theology from the Pontifical Comillas University in Madrid (1998) with a dissertation on the ecclesiology of Saint John XXIII, which he defended in 1995. He also obtained a diploma in Archival Studies (Vatican, 2011).