The official list of participants in this year’s synod of bishops on the family has been released, showing 45 new names personally appointed by Pope Francis – four of whom are Americans.
Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, and Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio have officially been added to the list of voting participants in the October gathering.
They will join four other American prelates already elected by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, raising the number of American participants to 8.
Those previously appointed by the USCCB are Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville and President of the USCCB; Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia; Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and Cardinal Daniel N. Di Nardo of Galveston-Houston, who is vice president of the USCCB.
Other participants chosen by the Pope represent a diverse group of Church leaders from Europe, Africa, South America and Asia, including Cardinal Soane Mafi of Tonga, who was elevated to the cardinalate by Pope Francis in February.
Pope Francis’ new additions included a total of 279 cardinals, bishops, and priests from all over the world, who will be able to actively take part in the synod, voting on documents and specific issues.
Released by the Vatican Sept. 15, the list also includes the names of the synod’s 34 auditors, which includes 17 individuals and 17 couples. Although auditors are allowed to attend synod sessions and participate in the discussions, they are not able to vote.
Among the 17 individual auditors – 13 of whom are women – is American Sr. Maureen Kelleher of the Sacred Heart of Mary.
A member of the International Union of Superiors General, Sr. Kelleher is a civil attorney who has worked extensively with low-income families, immigrants and women and children that have faced violence.
Philadelphia couple Catherine and Anthony Witczak will also be auditing, and are in charge of Worldwide Marriage Encounter’s International Ecclesial Team. The organization is a faith-based movement dedicated to building stronger marriages.
Other Americans involved in the synod include Archbishop William Skurla of the Ruthenian Archeparchy of Pittsburgh. Archbishop Skurla will represent one of the 15 Eastern Catholic Churches participating in the synod. He will be joined by Patriarch Youssif III Younan of the Syriac Catholic Church; Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai O.M.M. of the Maronite Catholic Church; Patriarch Luis Raphael Sako of the Chaldean Catholic Church; Gregoire Pierre XX Ghabroyan of the Armenian Catholic Church; and Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, among others.
Four Americans will also be among the 32 assistants helping the syond’s General Secretariat, headed by Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri. They are Fr. Jonathan Flemings, L.C., Fr. Brian Needles, Fr. Stephen Prisk and Fr. William Donovan, who for the past two years has served as Archbishop Charles Chaput’s liaison to the Pontifical Council for the Family on behalf of the World Meeting of Families.
Dr. John Grabowski, Professor of Moral Theology at the Catholic University of America will also join the synod as a collaborator.
In addition to the various Church leaders filing in for October’s meeting, there will also be a number of non-Catholic observers, including Robert K. Welsh of the Church for Disciples of Christ, who heads that ecclesial community’s Council on Christian Unity.
In total, there will be 18 Americans – participants, auditors and collaborators included – among those gathered in the Vatican for the three-week October meeting, plus Fr. Manuel Dorantes of Chicago, who will be assisting with the Spanish-speaking media.
Other participants appointed by Pope Francis include: Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals; Cardinal Godfried Danneels, archbishop emeritus of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium; Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, Archbishop of Vienna and president of the Austrian Episcopal Conference; 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 and President of the Honduran Episcopal Conference; Cardinal Peter Erdo, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, President of the Hungarian Episcopal Conference and President of the Council for European Episcopal Conferences; Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis, Archbishop of Aparecida, Brazil; Cardinal Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Milan, Philippines and President of Caritas Internationalis; Cardinal Alberto Suarez Inda, Archbishop of Morelia, Mexico; Archbishop Bruno Forte, Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto, Italy; Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, Rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina; Msgr. Pio Vito Pinto, Dean of the Roman Rota; 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.”
By Elise Harris