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The American magazine Forbes has published its popular annual list 50 over 50: Europe, Middle East and Africa, where it highlights influential women in fields such as science, fashion, economics, and human rights, among others. In the 2024 edition, it included Sr. Nathalie Becquart, X.M.C.J., a Catholic sister who serves as undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.
The highest-ranking woman in the Vatican
Pope Francis appointed Sr. Becquart to her undersecretary post in 2021. At the time, that made her the “the highest ranking woman in the Vatican and is the first woman to gain a right to vote at such a high-level conference,” Forbes notes. This is one of several appointments of women to increasingly important positions at the Vatican by Pope Francis.
The business magazine also noted her master’s degree in entrepreneurship from the HEC business school in Paris and the successful career she had in marketing before joining the Xavière Sisters in 1995.
Sr. Nathalie studied philosophy, theology and sociology at prestigious institutions in Paris and specialized in ecclesiology in the United States. Prior to her position as undersecretary, she was director of the National Service for the Evangelization of Youth and Vocations of the French Bishops’ Conference for six years. She has also been a consultant to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops since 2019.
This is not the first time she has appeared on such a list: last year she was also on the Forbes list, and in 2022 the BBC included her on its list of 100 inspirational and influential women worldwide.
“Nathalie is a very focused, dedicated woman who really works hard, but despite her pedigree and CV, there’s a real humility about her,” said Sr. Barbara Quinn, RSCJ. Quinn is the Associate Director for Spiritual Formation at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, where Sr. Becquart studied.
In an article on the Boston College website, she added that Sr. Nathalie Becquart “is a down-to-earth, grassroots person who has been working on the ground, with people and hearing their needs. To me, that one of the most important qualities she brings. She’s also very well-educated. Her thesis is on synodality. It’s almost as though her adult life has been leading up to a moment like this, so that when the invitation came, she was ready to go.”