Pope Francis has named Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston and the other members of his international Council of Cardinals to be voting members of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon.
Releasing the list of synod participants on September 21, the Vatican also noted that the pope had nominated as synod members Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego and Bishop Lionel Gendron of Saint-Jean-Longueuil, Quebec, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Most of the 185 voting members of the synod are bishops or priests from the nine countries that include part of the Amazon rainforest: Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Suriname, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Guyana and French Guiana.
But the members also include the heads of Roman Curia offices, cardinals, bishops and priests nominated by Pope Francis, 14 religious-order priests nominated by the men’s Union of Superiors General and one religious brother elected by the USG.
The women’s International Union of Superiors General was invited to elect 10 observers, who can speak to the assembly and participate in the small-group work, but do not have a vote.
The synod participant list includes six “fraternal delegates” from Anglican and Protestant churches in South America and 12 “special guests,” most of whom are internationally recognized experts on climate, food security or indigenous rights. The guests include Ban Ki-moon, former U.N. secretary-general, and Carlos Afonso Nobre, a Brazilian expert on climate change and the Amazon and co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Jeffrey D. Sachs of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University in New York also will participate.
The 25 experts appointed to assist the synod members include 20 priests, two women religious, a layman and two laywomen, most of whom are theologians, missionaries in the Amazon region or experts in Catholic approaches to safeguarding creation.
In addition to the 10 women religious nominated by the International Union of Superiors General to serve as synod observers, Pope Francis has invited eight other sisters, including Sister Gloria Franco Echeverri, a member of the Company of Mary and president of the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Men and Women Religious, known as CLAR. Two permanent deacons, two religious brothers, 15 laymen, seven priests and 11 laywomen also were named as observers.