Pope Francis has appointed two more women to Vatican posts previously held only by men, giving women more empowerment in the male-dominated Holy See.
The pontiff appointed Nathalie Becquart, 52, a French member of the Xaviere Missionary Sisters, on Saturday as co-undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, a department that prepares major meetings of world bishops held every few years on a different topic.
The position gives her the right to vote in the all-male assemblies, something many women and some bishops have called for.
Over the years, women have participated as observers and consultants in past synods but only “synod fathers”, including bishops and specially appointed or elected male representatives, could vote on final documents sent to the pope.
During a synod in 2018, more than 10,000 people reportedly signed a petition demanding that women get the vote.
Becquart, a member of the France-based Xaviere Sisters, has a master’s degree in management from the prestigious HEC business school in Paris and studied in Boston before joining the order.
The previous day, Francis named Italian magistrate Catia Summaria as the first woman Promoter of Justice in the Vatican’s Court of Appeals.
The body’s secretary-general, Cardinal Mario Grech, said the appointment showed that “a door has opened”.
He noted that the decision reflects the Pope’s desire “for a greater participation of women in the process of discernment and decision-making in the church”.
The news comes less than a month after Pope Francis formally changed the law in the Church to allow women to administer communion and serve at the altar, although the decree stressed that ordained priesthood would remain open to men only.
Last year, Pope Francis appointed six women to senior roles in the council that oversees Vatican finances.
He has also appointed women to the posts of deputy foreign minister, director of the Vatican Museums, and deputy head of the Vatican Press Office.