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Vatican’s first list of 2015 Synod bishops includes some strong voices for life and family

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ROME, February 2, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Vatican has published its first list of bishops who will attend the next Synod of bishops in October 2015. For those who were closely following the controversies surrounding the October 2014 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, at least some of the names on the list will look heartening.

The US list includes some of the more notable American defenders of Catholic orthodoxy, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and Los Angeles Archbishop José Horacio Gómez and the strongly pro-life Cardinal Daniel DiNardo.

Chaput was among the bishops in October who expressed concern over public perception of the Synod. Chaput, who has long been one of the stronger defenders of Catholic doctrine in the US hierarchy, called the confusion that resulted a work “of the devil.”

“I was very disturbed by what happened,” the archbishop said. “I think confusion is of the devil, and I think the public image that came across was one of confusion.”

Archbishop Gomez, who took over one of the most pro-homosexual archdioceses in the western world upon the retirement of the disgraced Cardinal Roger Mahoney, is known for having suspended the priestly faculties of a cleric who had started an advocacy organization for “gay marriage.”

Another on the US list is Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and the vice president of the US bishops’ conference, who has been a major voice in the various conflicts between the Church and the US government, particularly over conscience rights, the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate, and efforts to bring the legalization of abortion back to the legislative table. A regular at the Washington March for Life, DiNardo was appointed to head the US bishops’ pro-life office in 2009, and is known for having chastised the US judiciary to their faces for their support for continued legalization of abortion.

Notably, despite having been recently appointed as the head of one of the three largest archdioceses in the US, Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago – a prominent liberal voice – is listed only as a “substitute” and not a member. Oddly, the Vatican’s published document gives Cupich’s former position and rank of Bishop of Spokane, Washington.

The make-up of the Ordinary Synod will likely be more reflective of the beliefs of the wider Catholic Church. At an Extraordinary Synod, the Vatican’s Synod committee chooses who will be invited to attend, and accusations flew before last year’s meeting of the Vatican deliberately “stacking” the list with prelates who are or could be convinced to be sympathetic to the aims of the progressivists. At this year’s meeting, the national conferences themselves choose who will attend.

In the US and Africa, for different reasons, the Catholic Church has taken up strong positions opposing the aims of the Kasper group, which is mainly composed of Europeans, and especially Germans. In the US, the bishops have been pushing back against the attempts by the Obama administration to impose abortion, contraception, and “gay marriage” at the state level.

In Africa, Catholic bishops are generally the strongest voices against the attempts by international population groups to impose what the African Catholic Church holds to be a virtual invasion by a foreign, anti-family, and anti-child “lethal ideology”. At 2009’s African Synod, nearly every session was punctuated by calls for the West to stop trying to force contraception, abortion, and acceptance of homosexuality onto the African people.

The most stand-out name in the African contingent is that of Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle, the archbishop of Accra, Ghana. In 2009, Archbishop Palmer-Buckle attended the African Synod in Rome, and told US Vaticanist John Allen that he agreed with his brother bishops in their condemnation of the co-coordinated efforts by Western organizations to normalize homosexuality in African countries.

He named the World Bank, the IMF, and the UN as among those organizations that “sees African values on the family to be a danger to what’s called the ‘new global ethic.’” Such groups, he said, are “corrupting the young.”

“I know of NGOs that are not only supplying condoms, they're also supplying lubricants for boys who want to engage in homosexual relations. I know it. They’re handing them out, for free. I know workers for NGOs who hang around with boys in order to introduce them to homosexual relationships.”

This first list does not include those to be chosen to attend by the conferences of Nigeria or South Africa – whence comes Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, one of the most outspoken of the anti-Kasper bishops at the last synod – two of the largest Catholic populations in Africa. The list also does not include the strongly liberal and secularized Germany and Belgium.

Another surprise was the listing of Bishop Charles Edward Drennan of Palmerston, New Zealand as member and Cardinal John Dew as a substitute. Not only is Cardinal Dew the president of the New Zealand bishops’ conference, but was vocal in his support of the proposal to drop the Church’s traditional language describing sexual sin.

From Ireland one of the members listed is Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, the president of the Irish bishops’ conference as well as one of the strongest voices in that country against the ongoing efforts to legalize abortion in Northern Ireland. From France is included Georges Pontier, archbishop of Marseille and head of the French bishops’ conference, who in 2013 said that his “position” on “gay marriage” was that of the Catholic Church.

Correction Feb. 4/2015: The original version of this article suggested that Archbishop Chaput had criticized the Synod itself, however his point was to criticize the confusion in the public perception of the Synod.

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