VATICAN CITY - More than 360 participants, including 18
married couples from around the world, were expected to
attend October's Synod of Bishops on the family.
In addition to the 166 synod members elected by their
national bishops' conferences, 22 heads of Eastern Catholic
churches, 25 heads of Vatican congregations and councils and
10 heads of men's religious orders, the pope appointed an
additional 45 synod fathers to take part in the Oct. 4-25
The complete list of synod participants and papal appointees
was released Sept. 15 by the Vatican.
The ordinary synod will include many more people than last
year's extraordinary synod, which met over the course of 15
days. The ordinary synod will bring together nine additional
leaders of Eastern Catholic churches and six more "fraternal
delegates" from the Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant
communities. The pope also named 45 voting members of the
synod - up from 26 last year - and he appointed 51 observers
and 23 experts, including a total of 18 married couples. At
the extraordinary synod, there were 38 observers and 16
experts, which included a total of 14 couples.
Almost half of the 45 papally appointed voting members are
from Europe with another 15 from the Americas, three from
Africa, two from Oceania and one from Asia. At the
extraordinary synod, almost all appointees were from Europe,
and none of the papal appointees was from North America or
other English-speaking countries.
Pope Francis ensured that all the members of the synod's
general council would be present at the October meeting by
appointing U.S. Cardinals Donald W. Wuerl of Washington and
Timothy M. Dolan of New York as voting members.
In addition, he named U.S. Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of
Chicago; U.S. Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio;
Canadian Cardinal Gerald C. Lacroix of Quebec; and New
Zealand Cardinal John A. Dew of Wellington as members.
Some of the other papal appointees include German Cardinal
Walter Kasper, Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels of
Mechelen-Brussels, and Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez
Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, as well as Jesuit Father Antonio
Spadaro, director of La Civilta Cattolica journal, and Msgr.
Pio Pinto, dean of the Roman Rota, a Vatican-based tribunal
that deals mainly with marriage cases.
Among 51 observers and 23 experts appointed by the pope, the
majority are laymen and laywomen, including 18 married
couples. The 42 men and 32 women, who will not have voting
rights, represent a more geographically diverse mix with
fairly equal representation for Asia, Africa, the Americas
and the Middle East, and a slightly higher number from
The synod's voting members include officials from the Roman
Curia, heads of the Eastern churches, and archbishops of
smaller Eastern Catholic churches, including Byzantine
Archbishop William C. Skurla of Pittsburgh.
Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation
for Bishops, and Australian Cardinal George Pell, prefect of
the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy, were to attend as
officials of the Roman Curia.
Pope Francis will serve as president of the synod and will be
assisted by Cardinals Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris; Luis
Antonio Tagle of Manila; Raymundo Damasceno Assis of
Aparecida, Brazil; and Wilfrid F. Napier of Durban, South
As he did at last year's extraordinary synod, Hungarian
Cardinal Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest will serve as
relator with the duty of introducing the discussion and
synthesizing its results, and Italian Archbishop Bruno Forte
of Chieti-Vasto will serve again as special secretary.
Among those elected to attend by their country's bishops'
- Canadian Cardinal Thomas C. Collins of Toronto; Archbishop
Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec, conference
president; Archbishop Richard W. Smith of Edmonton, Alberta;
and Bishop Noel Simard of Valleyfield, Quebec.
- U.S. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston;
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky,
conference president; Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of
Philadelphia, host of the World Meeting of Families in
September; and Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles.
- English Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster and Bishop
Peter Doyle of Northampton.
- Scottish Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow.
- Irish Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin and Archbishop
Eamon Martin of Armagh, Northern Ireland, president of the
Irish bishops' conference.
- Australian Bishop Daniel Hurley of Darwin and Archbishop
Mark Coleridge of Brisbane; and Bishop Charles Drennan of
Palmerston North, New Zealand.
Many of the papally appointed observers and experts are
active in family ministries and pastoral care, canon law and
moral theology, and did not attend last year's extraordinary
Among the nonvoting members invited to attend are:
- U.S. Sister Maureen Kelleher, a member of the Sisters of
the Sacred Heart of Mary and an attorney who provides legal
assistance and attention to immigrants in Florida.
- U.S. couple Catherine Witczak and Anthony Witczak of
Philadelphia, former leaders of the International Ecclesial
Team of Worldwide Marriage Encounter.
- John Grabowski, professor of moral theology at The Catholic
University of America, Washington.
- Moira McQueen, director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics
Institute at the University of Toronto, moral theologian and
lawyer who specialized in family law and juvenile court.
- Pia Matthews, professor of health care ethics at St. Mary's
University in London.
- Maria Harries, research fellow in social work and policy at
the University of Western Australia, expert on mental health,
child protection, child migrants and social services, and
member of the "Truth, Justice, Healing Council" assisting the
Australian bishops' response to abuse.
- John Kleinsman, director of the Nathaniel Centre, the New
Zealand Catholic Bioethics Centre.
- Nathalie and Christian Mignonat, national coordinators of
"Les Equipes Reliance" in France and co-founding members of
SEDIRE; both associations work with accompanying divorced and
- A Chaldean Catholic couple from Baghdad, Suhaila Salim Toma
and Wisam Marqus Odeesho.
- A Hindu-Christian couple from Mumbai, India, Penny and
- Father Garas Boulos Garas Bishay, a parish priest in Sharm
el Sheikh, Egypt, and Maria Gomes, director of the family and
life program at St. Mary's parish in Dubai, which helps tens
of thousands of foreign Catholics there.
Fourteen "fraternal delegates" will represent other Christian
communities, such as the Lutheran, Anglican and Baptist
communities. Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion of
Volokolamsk, director of foreign relations for the Moscow
Patriarchate, also is expected to attend.
The ordinary general assembly of the Synod of Bishops is
focusing on "The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the
Church and the Contemporary World." It will draw up pastoral
guidelines responding to previous discussions looking at the
challenges facing today's families. It is expected the pope
will then write a postsynodal apostolic exhortation that
takes up the themes of the synod and develops them further.