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POPE

Dead priest delivers miracle

A French priest moved a step closer to sainthood Saturday when the Vatican acknowledged that the healing of an Ecuadoran boy amounted to a miracle.

Dead priest delivers miracle
Photo: Alex Proimos

Father Louis Brisson was beatified in Troyes, eastern France, at a packed cathedral in a ceremony presided over by Cardinal Angelo Amato, who leads the Vatican department that examines claims to sainthood.

Also present were a dozen bishops, some 200 priests and French Interior Minister Manuel Valls.

The ceremony was relayed to the crowd outside the cathedral on a giant television screen.

Brisson lived from 1817 to 1908, but it was the healing of an eight-year-old boy in Ecuador many years after his death that the Church has now acknowledged as a miracle.

The boy had had his foot badly injured and members of the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales, one of two orders Brisson had founded, prayed for him for nine days. The boy made a complete recovery from his injury.

Saturday's event was the official consecration of Pope Benedict XVI's December decision to acknowledge that this healing had been miraculous — and through Brisson's direct intercession.

Doctors who had examined the case could offer no medical or scientific explanation for the boy's dramatic recovery, said a statement from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Vatican department Amato leads.

Brisson's elevation to the ranks of the blessed, as the beatified are described, puts him one step closer to being declared a saint. But that would require Vatican recognition of a second miracle attributable to him.

The two orders founded in 1875 by Brisson, the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales and the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, have several hundred members scattered across the world.

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WOMEN

Pope appoints French woman to senior synod post

Pope Francis has broken with Catholic tradition to appoint a woman as an undersecretary of the synod of bishops, the first to hold the post with voting rights in a body that studies major questions of doctrine.

Pope appoints French woman to senior synod post
Pope Francis has appointed Nathalie Becquart as undersecretary of the synod of bishops. She is the first woman to hold the post. Photo: AFP

Frenchwoman Nathalie Becquart is one of the two new undersecretaries named on Saturday to the synod, where she has been a consultant since 2019.

The 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.

“With the nomination of Sister Nathalie Becquart and her possibility of participating in voting, a door has opened.”

The synod is led by bishops and cardinals who have voting rights and also comprises experts who cannot vote, with the next gathering scheduled for autumn 2022.

A special synod on the Amazon in 2019 saw 35 female “auditors” invited to the assembly, but none could vote.

The Argentinian-born pope has signalled his wish to reform the synod and have women and laypeople play a greater role in the church.

He named Spaniard Luis Marin de San Martin as the other under undersecretary in the synod of bishops.

Becquart, 52, 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.

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