Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Monday 04 March |
Saint of the Day: St. Casimir
Aleteia logo
separateurCreated with Sketch.

Pope Francis Confirms Some Surprising Appointments for October Synod of Bishops

Aula del Sinodo 2 10 Ottobre 2014 – Sabrina Fusco – en

© Sabrina Fusco / ALETEIA

Diane Montagna - published on 06/17/15

Including Belgian prelate who openly supports same-sex unions
Without donors, Aleteia's future is uncertain.
Join our Lenten Campaign 2024.

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has ratified the election of further members of the October 2015 Ordinary Synod on the Family. The Vatican published the list on Tuesday. 

The list of 65 new synod members spans the five continents. It includes bishops elected by individual national episcopal conferences; bishops of the Catholic Churches of the Eastern rite sui iuris; and ten religious chosen from the Roman Union of Superiors General to represent the clerical religious institutes.

Belgian Bishop Johan Jozef Bonny of Antwerp, who has openly argued for Church recognition for same-sex unions and Holy Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried, is one of those ratified as a member of the Synod. 

Last September, Bonny articulated his hopes for the upcoming Synod in a 22-page letter. In it, he disparages natural law, says the Church’s doctrine will have to be “dealt with” at the Synod if the Church wants “to open new avenues towards the evangelization of marriage and family in today’s society,” and effectively proposes dismantling Catholic culture by changing the Church’s language, which he calls “offensive” and in need of “urgent revision.” 

In the same letter, Bonny states regarding same-sex unions: “The present day legalization of civil partnership and marriage between people of the same gender has led to new situations and insights concerning marriage and family life … In almost all the responses to Rome’s questionnaire [in preparation for the Synod], I have read the expectation that the Church would also recognize what is good and valuable in other forms of partnership, forms other than traditional marriage. I consider such a hope to be justified.”

By contrast, Pope Francis has also ratified the election of Archbishop Henryk Hoser of Warsaw-Praga, Poland. In a February 2015 interview with Poland’s Niedziela, Archbishop Hoser criticized certain pastoral innovations put forward at last year’s Extraordinary Synod, saying they betrayed the legacy of Pope St. John Paul II.

Also of note: Africa will be well represented, with more members present than at last October’s meeting. To date, 40 Synod members from Africa have been ratified, not including South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, who serves as one of the Synod presidents; Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship; and Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who will also be attending. 

Last week, 45 presidents of the continent’s episcopal conferences and 5 cardinals, including Cardinal Robert Sarah, met in Accra, Ghana. They urged that the synod uphold the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family. Cardinal Sarah also called on the synod fathers “to speak with clarity and with just one voice, in filial love of the Church,” and expressed hope that the meeting would “protect the family from all the ideologies that want to destroy it, and therefore also from the national and international policies that impede the promotion of positive values.”

The list also contains substitute members who will replace a member only if he has a grave reason for not being able to attend, such as illness, responsibilities in the diocese, war, etc.

Individual national episcopal conferences elect members whose names are then sent to the Synod Secretariat. The names are then submitted to Holy Father. Technically, the results of the election in the bishops’ conferences are not to be made public until the names of those elected have been ratified by the Pope.

This is the third list of members to be published for the October synod. The first was published on
January 31, and a second on March 25. A final list of all Synod members and participants will be published in the lead up to the October meeting. 

The distinction between members and participants is that only members have a vote. Participants in the synod also include experts (who are not granted speaking privileges as members are), auditors and fraternal delegates. The Secretariat of the Synod also has yet to release these lists.

The Pope can also appoint up to 15 percent of the total members, who are called pontifical appointees. According to the synod’s statutes, “the Supreme Pontiff may, if he so chooses, increase the number of members of the Synod of Bishops by adding bishops, or religious to represent the religious institutes, or clerics who are experts, to the extent of fifteen percent of the total number of the members mentioned in articles V and VIII.”

Last year Cardinal Walter Kasper of Germany was one such member. Asked recently in an interview with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo if he foresees the Holy Father inviting appointing him as a synod father for the October meeting, Cardinal Kasper said, “I do not know what the Holy Father sees. I did not speak with him, and he did not tell me. And I, to be a member of the synod is not only a pleasure … if the Pope’s wants, I come, and if he does not want me, he appoints another.” 

The instrumentum laboris [working document] for the synod is expected to be published in the next week or two. By statute, the instrumentum laboris has to be published within six months of the Synod. 

The Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family will meet October 4-25 in the Vatican. 

Here below we publish the list of members and substitutes from the competent bodies for the 14th General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, confirmed by Pope Francis on May 22, 2015.


A) Episcopal Conferences


Member: The Most Reverend Emílio SUMBELELO, Bishop of Uíje (Angola)
Substitute: The Most Reverend José de QUEIRÓS ALVES, C.SS.R., Archbishop of Huambo (Angola)

Member: The Most Reverend Eugène Cyrille HOUNDÉKON, Bishop of Abomey, Vice President of the Episcopal Conference
Substitute: The Most Reverend Antoine SABI BIO, Bishop of Natitingou

Members: The Most Reverend Joseph ATANGA, S.J., Archbishop of Bertoua
The Most Reverend Samuel KLEDA, Archbishop of Douala, President of the Episcopal Conference
Substitutes: The Most Reverend Barthélémy YAOUDA HOURGO, Bishop of Yagoua
The Most Reverend Andrew Nkea FUANYA, Bishop of Mamfe

CONGO (Rep. of)
Member: The Most Reverend Urbain NGASSONGO, Bishop of Gamboma, President of the Bishops’ Commission for Family Pastoral Care 
Substitute: The Most Reverend Louis PORTELLA MBUYU, Bishop of Kinkala

Member: The Most Reverend Mathieu MADEGA LEBOUAKEHAN, Bishop of Mouila, President of the Episcopal Conference
Substitute: The Most Reverend Jean-Vincent ONDO EYENE, Bishop of Oyem

Member: The Most Reverend Charles Allieu Matthew CAMPBELL, Bishop of Bo (Sierra Leone)
Substitute: The Most Reverend Henry ARUNA, Bishop of Makeni (Sierra Leone)

Member: The Most Reverend Thomas Luke MSUSA, S.M.M., Archbishop of Blantyre, President of the Episcopal Conference
Substitute: The Most Reverend Emmanuel KANYAMA, Bishop of Dedza

Member: The Most Reverend Maurice PIAT, C.S.Sp., Bishop of Port-Louis (Maurizio), President of the Episcopal Conference
Substitute: The Most Reverend Gilbert AUBRY, Bishop of Saint-Denis-de-La Réunion (La Riunione)

Member: The Most Reverend Cyr-Nestor YAPAUPA, Bishop of Alindao
Substitute: The Most Reverend Dieudonné NZAPALAINGA, C.S.Sp., Archbishop of Bangui, President of the Episcopal Conference

Member: The Most Reverend Benjamin NDIAYE, Archbishop of Dakar, President of the Episcopal Conference (Senegal)
Substitute: The Most Reverend Paul Abel MAMBA, Bishop of Ziguinchor (Senegal), Vice President of the Episcopal Conference

Members: The Most Reverend Tarcisius J. M. NGALALEKUMTWA, Bishop of Iringa, President of the Episcopal Conference
The Most Reverend Renatus Leonard NKWANDE, Bishop of Bunda
Substitutes: The Most Reverend Mons. Joseph Roman MLOLA, Bishop of Kigoma
The Most Reverend John Chrisostom NDIMBO, Bishop of Mbinga

Member: The Most Reverend Benjamin PHIRI, Titular Bishop of Nachingwea, Auxiliary of Chipata
Substitute: The Most Reverend Patrick CHISANGA, O.F.M. Conv., Bishop of Mansa


Members: The Most Reverend Sérgio DA ROCHA, Archbishop of Brasilia, President of the Episcopal Conference
The Most Reverend João Carlos PETRINI, Bishop of Camaçari
The Most Reverend Geraldo LYRIO ROCHA, Archbishop of Mariana
His Eminence Cardinal Odilo Pedro SCHERER, Archbishop of São Paulo
Substitutes: The Most Reverend João Bosco BARBOSA DE SOUSA, O.F.M., Bishop of Osasco
The Most Reverend Leonardo ULRICH STEINER, O.F.M., Titular Bishop of Tisiduo, Auxiliary of Brasília

Members: The Most Reverend Paul-André DUROCHER, Archbishop of Gatineau, President of the Episcopal Conference
The Most Reverend Noël SIMARD, Bishop of Valleyfield
His Eminence Cardinal Thomas Christopher COLLINS, Archbishop of Toronto
The Most Reverend Richard William SMITH, Archbishop of Edmonton
Substitutes: The Most Reverend Lionel GENDRON, P.S.S., Bishop of Saint-Jean – Longueuil
The Most Reverend J. Michael MILLER, C.S.B., Archbishop of Vancouver

Members: The Most Reverend Pablo Emiro SALAS ANTELIZ, Bishop of Armenia
His Eminence Cardinal Rubén SALAZAR GÓMEZ, Archbishop of Bogotá
The Most Reverend Óscar URBINA ORTEGA, Archbishop of Villavicencio
Substitute: The Most Reverend Ricardo Antonio TOBÓN RESTREPO, Archbishop of Medellín

Member: The Most Reverend José Francisco ULLOA ROJAS, Bishop of Cartago, President of the Episcopal Commission for Family Pastoral Care 
Substitute: The Most Reverend Oscar Gerardo FERNÁNDEZ GUILLÉN, Bishop of Puntarenas, President of the Episcopal Conference

Member: The Most Reverend Constantino BARRERA MORALES, Bishop of Sonsonate
Substitute: The Most Reverend Fabio Reynaldo COLINDRES ABARCA, Military Ordinary of El Salvador

Member: The Most Reverend Roberto Octavio GONZÁLEZ NIEVES, O.F.M., Archbishop of San Juan de Puerto Rico, President of the Episcopal Conference
Substitute: The Most Reverend Alvaro CORRADA DEL RÍO, S.I., Bishop of Mayagüez

Member: The Most Reverend Gregorio Nicanor PEÑA RODRÍGUEZ, Bishop of Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia en Higüey, President of the Episcopal Conference
Substitute: The Most Reverend Fausto Ramón MEJÍA VALLEJO, Bishop of San Francisco de Macorís


Member: The Most Reverend Paul Ponen KUBI, C.S.C, Bishop of Mymensingh, President of the “Episcopal Family Life Commission”
Substitute: The Most Reverend Sebastian TUDU, Bishop of Dinajpur

Member: The Most Reverend Peter KANG U-IL, Bishop of Cheju
Substitute: The Most Reverend Hyginus KIM HEE-JOONG, Archbishop of Gwangju, President of the Episcopal Conference

Member: The Most Reverend Joseph Mitsuaki TAKAMI, P.S.S., Archbishop of Vice Presidente della Conferenza Episcopale
Substitute: The Most Reverend Dominic Ryōji MIYAHARA, Bishop of Fukuoka

Members: His Eminence Cardinal Oswald GRACIAS, Archbishop of Bombay, President of the Episcopal Conference
The Most Reverend Filipe Neri António Sebastião DO ROSÁRIO FERRÃO, Archbishop of Goa and Damão
The Most Reverend Selvister PONNUMUTHAN, Bishop of Punalur
The Most Reverend Dominic JALA, S.D.B., Archbishop of Shillong
Substitute: The Most Reverend Singaroyan SEBASTIANAPPAN, Bishop of Salem

Member: The Most Reverend Harold Anthony PERERA, Bishop of Kurunegala
Substitute: The Most Reverend Norbert Marshall ANDRADI, O.M.I., Bishop of Anuradhapura


Membro: The Most Reverend Johan Jozef BONNY, Bishop of Antwerpen
Substitute: The Most Reverend Lucas VAN LOOY, S.D.B., Bishop of Gent

Member: The Most Reverend Gheorghi Ivanov JOVČEV, Bishop of Sofia and Plovdiv
Substitute: The Most Reverend Christo PROYKOV, Titular Bishop of Briula, Apostolic Esarca of Sofia for Catholics of the Byzantine-Slavic rite residing in Bulgaria, President of the Episcopal Conference

Members: His Eminence Cardinal Angelo BAGNASCO, Archbishop of Genoa, President of the Episcopal Conference
The Most Reverend Angelo SCOLA, Archbishop of Milan
The Most Reverend Franco Giulio BRAMBILLA, Bishop of Novara
The Most Reverend Enrico SOLMI, Bishop of Parma, President of the Episcopal Conference’s Commission for Life and Family   
Substitutes: The Most Reverend Gennaro PASCARELLA, Bishop of Pozzuoli
The Most Reverend Luciano MONARI, Bishop of Brescia

Member: The Most Reverend Mario GRECH, Bishop of Gozo, President of the Episcopal Conference
Substitute: The Most Reverend Charles Jude SCICLUNA, Archbishop of Malta

Members: The Most Reverend Stanisław GĄDECKI, Archbishop of Poznań, President of the Episcopal Conference
The Most Reverend Henryk HOSER, S.A.C., Archbishop-Bishop of Warszawa-Praga
The Most Reverend Jan Franciszek WĄTROBA, Bishop of Rzeszów
Substitutes: The Most Reverend Józef MICHALIK, Archbishop of Przemyśl dei Latini
The Most Reverend Marek JĘDRASZEWSKI, Archbishop of Łódź

Member: The Most Reverend Petru GHERGHEL, Bishop of Iaşi
Substitute: The Most Reverend Cornel DAMIAN, Titular Bishop of Iziriana, Auxiliary of Bucharest

Member: The Most Reverend Stanislav ZVOLENSKÝ, Archbishop of Bratislava, President of the Episcopal Conference
Substitute: The Most Reverend Jozef HAL’KO, Titular Bishop of Serra, Auxiliary of Bratislava

Member: The Most Reverend Stane ZORE, O.F.M., Archbishop of Ljubljana
Substitute: The Most Reverend Andrej GLAVAN, Bishop of Novo Mesto, President of the Episcopal Conference

Member: The Most Reverend Lévon Boghos ZÉKIYAN, Archbishop of Istanbul of the Armenians
Substitute: The Most Reverend Louis PELÂTRE, A.A., Titular Bishop of Sasima, Apostolic Vicar of Istanbul, Apostolic Administrator of the’Apostolic Esarcato Apostolico of Istanbul for the faithful of the Byzantine rite residing in Turkey

Member: The Most Reverend Mieczysław MOKRZYCKI, Archbishop of Lviv of the Latins, Presidente della Conferenza Episcopale
Substitute: The Most Reverend Radosław ZMITROWICZ, O.M.I., Titular Bishop of Gissaria, Auxiliary of Kamyanets-Podilskyi of the Latins

Member: The Most Reverend András VERES, Bishop of Szombathely
Substitute: The Most Reverend László BÍRÓ, Military Ordinary of Hungary


Member: The Most Reverend Peter Loy CHONG, Archbishop of Suva (Isole Fiji)
Substitute: His Eminence Cardinal Soane Patita Paini MAFI, Bishop of Tonga (Tonga), President of the Episcopal Conference

B) Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris

Synod of the Maronite Church
Members: The Most Reverend Antoine Nabil ANDARI, Titular Bishop of Tarsus of the Maronites, Auxiliary and Sincello di Joubbé, Sarba e Jounieh dei Maroniti, President of the Episcopal Commission for Life and Family (Lebanon)
The Most Reverend Antoine TARABAY, O.L.M., Bishop of Saint Maron of Sydney of the Maronites (Australia)
Substitutes: The Most Reverend Michel AOUN, Bishop of Jbeil, Byblos of the Maronites (Lebanon)
The Most Reverend Gregory John MANSOUR, Bishop of Saint Maron of Brooklyn of the Maronites (United States of America)

C) Union of General Superiors
Members: Rev. Fr. Adolfo NICOLÁS PACHÓN, S.J., Prepositor General of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits)
Rev. Fr. Marco TASCA, O.F.M. Conv., Minister General of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor Conventual
Rev. Fr. Mario ALDEGANI, C.S.I., Superior General of the Congregation of St. Joseph (Josephites of Murialdo)
Rev. Fr. Richard Kuuia BAAWOBR, M.Afr., Superior General of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers)
Rev. Fr. Bruno CADORÉ, O.P., Master General of the Friars Preachers (Dominicans)
Rev. Fr. Jesús DÍAZ ALONSO, S.F., Superior General of the Sons of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Rev. Fr. Michael BREHL, C.SS.R., Superior General of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists or Liguorini)
Rev. Fr. Javier ÁLVAREZ-OSSORIO, SS.CC., Superior General of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts (Picpus)
Rev. Fr. Ab. D. Jeremias SCHRÖDER, O.S.B., Arch-abbot President of the Benedictine Congregation of  Presidente della Congregazione Benedettina of St. Odile
Fr. Hervé JANSON, P.F.J., Prior General of the Little Brothers of Jesus (Foucauld)
Substitutes: Rev. P. Edmund Jan MICHALSKI, M.S.F., Superior General of the Missionaries of the Holy Family
Rev. Fr. Gregory GAY, C.M., Superior General of the Congregation of the Missions (Lazzarists)

Diane Montagna is Rome correspondent for Aleteia’s English edition.

Pope FrancisSynod on the Family
Support Aleteia!

Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Thanks to their partnership in our mission, we reach more than 20 million unique users per month!

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting and transformative Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Support Aleteia with a gift today!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.