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Pope Francis with leading members of the Secretariat of the Synod of BishopsFacebook

VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — The list of participants for the October meeting of the Synod on Synodality has been released, with Pope Francis’ personal choices including Cardinals McElroy, Cupich, and Gregory and Father James Martin.

Issued July 7, the several-hundred strong list of participants for the upcoming 16th General Assembly of the Ordinary Synod of Bishops – or the Synod on Synodality – was distributed by the Vatican and the Synod press office. It is comprised of normal members, as governed by the Apostolic Constitution Episcopalis Communio, but also of the participants specifically appointed by Pope Francis. 

As such, a differentiation can be observed between the delegates chosen by their own local churches or bishops’ conferences to participate in the Synod, and those personally picked by Pope Francis.

Whom has the Pope chosen?

There are fifty names among the Pope’s personal choices for voting members of the Synod. They include cardinals, bishops, priests, and religious sisters. Among the most notable of the papal picks are:

  • Cardinal Jean-Marc Aveline: From Marseille, made a cardinal in August 2022.
  • Bishop Stephen Chow S.J.: The pro-CCP Jesuit bishop of Hong Kong who has downplayed fears about the Vatican-China deal.
  • Archbishop Timothy Costelloe: Anti-traditional Mass Bishop of Perth, who has been a key Synod on Synodality member, and who shocked Australian Catholics when he oversaw an indigenous pagan ritual at the beginning of the 5th Australian Plenary Council’s Opening Mass.
  • Cardinal Blase Cupich: The notorious Chicago cardinal, known especially for his promotion of LGBT Masses and restriction of Latin Masses, who has recently praised the heterodox German Synodal Way.
  • Cardinal Josef de Kesel: The Archbishop Emeritus of Mechelen-Brussel who signed and approved the notorious document by his fellow Belgium bishops promulgating blessings for same-sex couples. At their subsequent ad limina visit with Francis some months later, De Kesel said that the meeting was “invariably warm” and that the Belgians had not been admonished for their document.
  • Cardinal Wilton Gregory: Current Archbishop of Washington D.C., raised to the cardinalate by Francis in 2020, with a long list of anti-family and anti-Traditional actions.
  • Cardinal Ladaria Ferrer S.J.: The outgoing prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under whose tenure the CDF issued its ban on same-sex blessings in 2021.
  • Cardinal Gerhard Müller: Cdl Ladaria’s predecessor as prefect of the CDF, who has condemned the Synod as a “hostile takeover” of the Church that threatens to “end” Catholicism.
  • Cardinal JeanClaude Hollerich S.J.: Relator general of the Synod and recently appointed member of the Pope’s council of cardinals. A prominently pro-LGBT cardinal who has previously claimed that he is “in full agreement with Pope Francis” on the issue of opposing Catholic teaching on homosexuality.
  • Cardinal Robert McElroy: Notoriously heterodox bishop, recently raised to the cardinalate in 2022, who promotes Holy Communion for those in actively immoral LGBT lifestyles, and who has been accused by Bishops Paprocki and Schneider of having de facto excommunicating himself.
  • Bishop Stefan Oster: German bishop who has been one of the few dissenting voices at various stages of the country’s disastrous and heterodox Synodal Way.
  • Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodrígues Maradiaga: Former president of Pope Francis’ council of cardinal advisors, and close papal confidant. Encircled by scandal for many years, including financial and sexual cover-up allegations. 
  • Father James Martin S.J.: The notoriously pro-LGBT Jesuit, also a member of the Dicastery for Communications, who has enjoyed increasing papal favor despite his longstanding record of promoting LGBT ideology in dissent from Catholic teaching. He has promoted an image drawn from a series of blasphemous, homoerotic works showing Christ as a homosexual, promoted same-sex civil unions, and described viewing God as male as “damaging.”

In light of the announcement, veteran Vatican journalist Edward Pentin stated that a “senior Church leader” told him recently that some of these clerics “don’t have any criteria of objective, methodological and correct theology. They no longer have the objectivity of divine revelation, only a subjective understanding, according to prejudices.”

Who else is taking part?

Participants of the Synod included delegates from bishops’ conferences around the world, selected by the local bishops’ conferences themselves. Numerous prefects and leading members of the Roman Curia also make the cut, as do members of the Secretariat of the Synod. 

READ: Pope Francis to personally select lay men, women to form up to 25% of Synodal vote

As reported in April, Pope Francis has made changes to the organizational structure of the Synod, meaning that for the first time laity will have voting rights in the Assembly of Bishops. He personally selected the 70 non-bishop members. Furthermore, the Synod on Synodality will be joined by other “experts” who will not have the right to vote, and are thus not given the title “Member of the Assembly.”

Such “experts” – heavily drawn from the “experts” who complied the October 2022 working document for the continental stage – will be joined by other “facilitators.”

There are also those who have been invited as “special invitees” or “fraternal delegates,” who do not hold voting rights at the assemblies. Similar in that they do not hold voting rights, the “Experts and Facilitators” only participate and advise.

Among the “special invitees” is Fr. Alois, the prior of the Taize community. He is heavily involved in leading an ecumenical prayer vigil in St. Peter’s Square that is intended to further the “path to Christian unity and the path of synodal conversion of the Church.” 

Meanwhile the notoriously pro-LGBT English Dominican  Father Timothy Radcliffe is listed as one of two “spiritual assistants.” Fr. Radcliffe O.P. was personally invited by the Pope to lead a pre-Synodal retreat for the bishops; his long history of homosexual advocacy seems not to have been an inhibiting factor.

READ: Pope invites notorious pro-LGBT priest to lead key Synod retreat for bishops

As noted, a large number of the “experts” are those who compiled the 2022 Synodal working document, and include figures such as papal biographer Austen Ivereigh; Monsignor Piero Coda, the Secretary of the Pontifical International Theological Commission which advises the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; the pro-contraception and pro-homosexual Monsignor Philippe Bordeyne, the Dean of the revamped Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and the Family.

LifeSiteNews has highlighted the records of such Synod “experts” in previous reporting.

What does this mean?

The Synod will convene on October 4, with the participants meeting in the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican.

As noted by the Synod team, all the members and additional experts will take part in the two sessions of the Synod in Rome. The first will take place this October and the second in October 2024. 

When Pope Francis is not present, a total of nine president delegates will assume the operating control of proceedings “in the name and by the authority” of the Pope. These nine are:

  • His Beatitude Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, Head of the Synod of the Coptic Catholic Church (Egypt)
  • Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes, Archbishop of México
  • Archbishop Luis Gerardo Cabrera Herrera, O.F.M., Archbishop of Guayaquil (Ecuador)
  • Archbishop Timothy John Costelloe S.D.B., Archbishop of Perth
  • Bisho Daniel Ernest Flores, Bishop of Brownsville, USA
  • Bisho Lúcio Andrice Muandula, Bishop of Xai-Xai (Mozambique)
  • Father Giuseppe Bonfrate (Italy)
  • Sister Maria de los Dolores Palencia, C.S.J. (Mexico)
  • Momoko Nishimura, S.E.M.D. (Japan)

Cardinal Hollerich, as relator general, will play a key role. He will deliver a report at the start of the entire proceeding and at the start of each section of the meeting, presenting the issues to be covered. He will also be in charge of summarizing the work of the October Assembly in a text  to serve as the basis for the 2024 Assembly. 

The Secretariat for the Synod recently released the text which will guide discussions at the 2023 synodal assembly. It presented topics such as women’s diaconal “ordination,” married priests, and a need to “welcome” the “remarried divorcees, people in polygamous marriages, LGBTQ+ people.”

READ: Major Synod on Synodality document highlights need to ‘welcome’ polygamists, ‘LGBTQ+ people’

Participants at the assembly will study the document, along with the worksheets provided, which can be used for “in-depth thematic meetings in a synodal style at all levels of Church life.” Each worksheet contains questions for discussion. These include questions for increased female governance, more acceptance for LGBT individuals, married priests, and the future of ecclesiastical governance. 

Notably, the widely accepted, and papally approved, interpretation of Amoris Laetitia  as allowing the divorced and “re-married” to Holy Communion was presented as an already finalized issue in the document which the assembly members will discuss. 

Commenting on the list of participants, Deacon Nick Donnelly argued that the event was a means to promote homosexuality to the Church.

“Bergoglio really isn’t hiding the fact that the goal of the synod on Synodality is about defying God’s commands against sodomites,” he wrote. “When you add into the mix the fact that Timothy Radcliffe is leading the pre-synod retreat you realize the fix is in for the synod force through the acceptance of sodomy.”