Church needs to rebuild trust

Vatican's top woman

The Vatican’s most influential woman, French nun Nathalie Becquart, is on a global mission to bring the Pope’s decision-making process closer to the laity.

Being able to celebrate Mass isn’t the only way people can undertake leadership roles in the Church, she says.

That global mission has led her to Australia to hear what Australian Catholics have to say about the big decisions the Church has to make about its future and seeking a consensus.

“I am here, ready to listen, to learn more about the reality of the Church here,” she says.

“What is very important for me is the Catholic Church has to speak the language of the people.”

Speaking in Sydney on Friday, Becquart acknowledged women have hit a stained glass ceiling in the Church. Women’s ordination into the priesthood is not up for negotiation, she says.

“At this moment, at the Vatican and from the point of view of the official teaching of the church, it is closed.”

But the former marketing and advertising consultant also notes she can still follow a fulfilling leadership path.

The Pope’s right-hand woman and the undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops believes there are other ways for females to play a bigger role in the Church.

“There is a strong call today for more women in leadership, more women’s participation, especially in the decision-making process,” Becquart told her Sydney audience.

She also said there is a need to rebuild trust following the child sex abuse crisis, but said it will be a long process.

“We are more and more aware in many countries that the Church has failed because there have been abuses and cover ups,” she said.

Becquart accepts the Catholic Church faces a public relations challenge in rebuilding trust. In this respect, she says her background in communications and project management has been useful in her pastoral work and team leadership.

When the Pope asked her to become an undersecretary in 2021, Becquart says saying “yes” was an easy decision. Her appointment is now seen as a watershed moment.

As one of two undersecretaries, she is the first woman to have the right to vote in the synod, making her the most powerful woman in the Vatican.

In December, Becquart was named on the BBC list of the 100 most inspiring and influential women in the world.


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