THE NAMES of 360 people attending next month’s family synod were unveiled by the Vatican this week.
Forty-five of the synod fathers have been appointed by Pope Francis while the rest have been elected by bishops’ conferences or are the heads of Vatican departments, religious orders or Eastern Catholic Churches. The list for the October 4-25 gathering also includes 18 married 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 last year, almost all appointees were from Europe, and none of the papal appointees were from North America or other English-speaking countries.
Pope Francis ensured that all members of the synod’s general council would be present at the October synod by appointing American cardinals Donald Wuerl of Washington and Timothy Dolan of New York as voting members. In addition, he named German Cardinal Walter Kasper, Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Mechelen-Brussels and Honduran Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, as well as Fr Antonio Spadaro, Jesuit director of La Civiltà Cattolica journal, and Mgr Pio Pinto, dean of the Roman Rota, a Vatican-based tribunal that deals mainly with marriage cases.
Some of the other papal appointees include US Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago; US Bishop George Murry of Youngstown, Ohio; Canadian Cardinal Gerald Lacroix of Quebec; and New Zealand Cardinal John Dew of Wellington as members.
German bishop says Church could bless same-sex unions
One of three German bishops attending next month’s synod on the family has suggested that the Church might offer “private blessings” to same-sex couples. Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabruck said it was possible to see strengths as well as weaknesses in gay relationships and in those of cohabiting heterosexuals. He said the Catholic Church could not accept gay marriage because it understood marriage as a union between a husband and a wife that was open to the procreation of children.
But the bishop said that since the Church was bound not to discriminate against gay people by the Catechism of the Catholic Church it should do more to support those who were in stable unions. He said: “With prayer and a private form of blessing you will be able to accompany their way.”
His comments were made in an interview with KNA, a German Catholic news agency with close ties to the German bishops’ conference. Bishop Bode also said that divorced and remarried couples can “come to a new relationship which is more mature than the first, but which does not have the same sacramental value”.
Pope: rich have ‘ecological debt’
Wealthier nations have an “ecological debt” they must pay back to poorer countries, Pope Francis has said. They can do this by ending food waste, cutting back on fossil fuels and investing in sustainable development, Francis told EU environment ministers. The debt, he said, was created by a “disproportionate use” of natural resources.