The Vatican on Tuesday announced 26 papally appointed voting members of the 5-19 October Synod of Bishops on the family. Along with 114 presidents of bishops’ conferences, 25 heads of Vatican congregations and councils, and 13 heads of Eastern Catholic Churches, there will be appointees including Cardinal Walter Kasper, Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, and Italian Cardinal Elio Sgreccia.
Fr Antonio Spadaro, director of La Civilta Cattolica journal, and Mgr Pio Pinto, dean of the Roman Rota, were also appointed. US Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, the Vatican’s highest court, will attend as an official of the Roman Curia.
There will be more than 250 participants, including 14 married couples from around the world.
The Pope also appointed 38 nonvoting observers and 16 nonvoting experts. Ten of these experts are from Europe (including five from Italy), three from Asia, and one each from Mexico, the Lebanon, and Australia.
Many of the observers are heads of Catholic organisations, including natural family planning organisations. These include Jeffrey Heinzen, director of Natural Family Planning in the US diocese of La Crosse, and Alice Heinzen, a member of the Natural Family Planning Advisory Board of the US bishops’ conference.
Eight “fraternal delegates” will represent non-Catholic Christian communities. These include Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, director of foreign relations for the Moscow patriarchate.
The theme of the extraordinary synod is: “The pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.” Pope Francis will serve as president and Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri as the synod's general secretary.