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Synod, October 10: participants discuss 2nd topic, elect members of key commission

October 11, 2023

On October 10, participants in the first session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops continued their discussion of the Synod’s second topic: “How can we be more fully a sign and instrument of union with God and of the unity of all humanity?”

At a press conference, Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, said that on the previous day, Synod participants had elected some of the members of two commissions.

Commission for the Synthesis Report

According to the Synod’s rules (Article 14), the Commission for the Synthesis Report is composed of the Relator General, who presides over it; the General Secretary; the Special Secretary delegated to supervise the work of the Experts-Theologians, who is its secretary; seven Members elected by the Assembly and three other Members appointed by the Roman Pontiff.”

The commission’s work is crucial because the results of the Synod’s first session (October 4-29) will form the agenda of the Synod’s second session in October 2024.

The ex-officio members of the commission, as established by the Synod’s rules, are Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, SJ (president), Cardinal Mario Grech, and Father Riccardo Battocchio.

The seven members elected by the Synod participants are

  • Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu (DR Congo)
  • Cardinal Jean-Marc Aveline (France)
  • Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix (Canada)
  • Archbishop José Luis José Luis Azuaje Ayala (Venezuela)
  • Bishop Anthony Mackinlay (Australia)
  • Bishop Mounir Khairallah (Lebanon)
  • Father Clarence Sandanaraj Davedassan (Malaysia)

The three members appointed by Pope Francis are

  • Cardinal Giorgio Marengo (Mongolia)
  • Father Giuseppe Bonfrate (Italy)
  • Sister Patricia Murray (Ireland)

CNA published brief profiles of each of the members of this commission.

Commission for Information

The Commission for Information, according to the Synod’s rules, is “composed of: the President and the Secretary, appointed by the Roman Pontiff; the General Secretary; the Under-Secretaries; the Relator General; the Special Secretaries; the Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication; the Director of the Press Room; as well as seven Members elected by the Assembly; to which the Communication Manager of the General Secretariat of the Synod is added” (Article 11).

The ex-officio members of the Commission for Information are listed here. The members elected by Synod participants are

  • Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández (prefect, Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith)
  • Cardinal Joseph Tobin (USA)
  • Archbishop Andrew Nkea Fuanya (Cameroon)
  • Bishop Pablo Virgilio David (Philippines)
  • Bishop Anthony Randazzo (Australia)
  • Father Antonio Spadaro, SJ (undersecretary, Dicastery for Culture and Education)
  • Father Khalil Alwan (Lebanon)

Press conference

Participants in the press conference said that Synod members were discussing the following topics:

  • education
  • the environment
  • multiculturalism
  • “walking with the marginalized and migrants”
  • the poor
  • human trafficking
  • social exclusion

Cardinal Joseph Tobin, CSSR, of Newark (NJ) told reporters that at the Synod, “things are not coming to us from above, but it is a process that starts from the bottom, from the involvement of the People of God, and arrives at the top. I do not feel constrained or handcuffed.”

Referring to a “pilgrimage of people who felt marginalized because of their sexual orientation,” Cardinal Tobin quoted a priest who said, “This is a beautiful church, but it is most beautiful when its doors are open.”

Cardinal Tobin also criticized “leaders who are committed to building borders”—a remarkable statement, as three days earlier, Hamas had breached the Gaza-Israeli border and invaded Israel.

“In a world characterized by exclusionary nationalism, by xenophobia, in which there are leaders who are committed to building borders, the Church’s option is that of fraternity, of synodality, an option that enables us to understand that we are all brothers and sisters,” in the words of Vatican News’s paraphrase of his remarks. (According to Vatican News’s Italian-language article, the paraphrase consisted substantially of direct quotes, including his criticism of “leaders who are committed to building borders.”)

Cardinal Tobin also spoke about the restrictions on the traditional Latin Mass. (Vatican News, operated by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication, omitted any reference to the cardinal’s remarks on this topic.)

“I would say the experience of feeling banished is something that is sadly part of the signs of the times, not simply for people who very much love the Traditional Mass,” he said.

Cardinal Tobin added:

For people who love the Traditional Mass, they are still under the conditions of two motu proprios, as well as the decisions of the Dicastery for Divine Worship, there are still opportunities for it, but not perhaps what they have been accustomed to. So I know it has caused a lot of grief among people who particularly identified with that Mass, but I don’t think they have been banished from the Catholic Church.

Earlier coverage


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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Oct. 11, 2023 11:52 AM ET USA

    "I don’t think they have been banished from the Catholic Church." True--just marginalized, denigrated, and eschewed. But the SSPX, FSSP, and other "authorized" movements that stress the hermeneutic of continuity continue to grow, despite the insults and attempted shutdowns. Gamaliel's advice is just as pertinent today as it was 2 millennia ago: "But if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it, lest perhaps you be found even to fight against God" (Acts 5:39). They fear what they no longer know.