Vatican releases Synod list: 279 participants, 8 Americans

This story appears in the Synod on the Family feature series. View the full series.

by Joshua J. McElwee

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The Vatican has officially released the full list of participants, auditors and collaborators for October’s hotly anticipated global meeting of Catholic bishops on family life.

Among the details: Pope Francis has personally appointed four extra U.S. bishops to take part in the proceedings, giving the American delegation a total of eight prelates able to vote.

Those eight from the U.S. will be part of 279 bishops, prelates and priests announced as voting participants, coming from countries and regions all over the world.

The new U.S. prelates appointed by Francis: New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich, and Youngstown, Ohio Bishop George Murry.

The four Americans will join four others already elected by the U.S. bishops’ conference: Louisville, Ky., Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, Galveston-Houston Cardinal Daniel Di Nardo, and Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez.

The Americans will join a globally diverse group of male prelates taking part in the discussions, who are a mix of those elected by the different bishops’ conferences around the world to attend the event and personal appointees made by the pontiff himself.

Francis appointed 45 members to the Synod on his own authority, selecting a diverse group of prelates from Europe, Africa, and even the island nation of Tonga.

Twenty-five heads of various Vatican offices will also participate, as will ten representatives of the world’s male religious orders.

There will also be a number of auditors taking part in the discussions, who are allowed to attend and participate in the discussions but not to vote on any final document or issues. Among those auditors are 17 individuals and 17 married couples. Thirteen of the individual auditors are women, including three religious sisters.

One of the religious sisters serving as an auditor will be U.S. Sacred Heart of Mary Sr. Maureen Kelleher, a civil attorney who has specialized in working with low-income clients and was a founding member of the Catholic social justice lobby group NETWORK.

The two other sister auditors are: Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa Sr. Carmen Sammut, the head of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG); and Costa Rican Capuchin Sr. Berta Maria Porras Fallas.

Included in the 17 couples serving as auditors are one from the U.S.: Mrs. Catherine and Mr. Anthony Witczak, of the Worldwide Marriage Encounter group.

Among the other prelates personally appointed by Francis to participate:

  • Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals;
  • Cardinal Godfried Danneels, archbishop emeritus of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium;
  • Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, Archbishop of Vienna, Austria;
  • Cardinal Walter Kasper, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity;
  • Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Archbishop of Durban, South Africa;
  • Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras;
  • Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo;
  • Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis, Archbishop of Aparecida, Brazil;
  • Cardinal John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington, New Zealand;
  • Cardinal Soane Mafi, Bishop of Tonga;
  • Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, Rector of the Pontifical University of Argentina;
  • Jesuit Fr. Francois-Xavier Dumortier, head of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome;
  • Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro, editor of the Italian Catholic magazine La Civiltà Cattolica.

The Vatican has made the full list of synod participants, auditors and collaborators available online.

[Joshua J. McElwee is an NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

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