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Synod on Synodality: Who is overseeing the draft report at the end of the assembly?

Delegates meet at round tables during the Synod on Synodality on Oct. 10, 2023. / Credit: Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Oct 10, 2023 / 15:30 pm (CNA).

Synod on Synodality delegates elected this week the members of a commission who will supervise the drafting of a “synthesis report” that will sum up what was discussed during the confidential conversations and speeches during the 2023 October assembly.

The Commission for the Synthesis Report has “the task not to write but of periodically  supervising, amending, and approving the preparation of the draft” that will be published at the conclusion of the first Synod on Synodality assembly, according to a communiqué published Tuesday by synod organizers.

Vatican spokesman Paolo Ruffini explained at a press conference on Oct. 10 that the synthesis report will be written by “the experts” attending the synod.

The Vatican has published a list of 62 nonvoting “experts and facilitators,” including papal biographer Austen Ivereigh, Brazilian Jesuit Father Adelson Araújo dos Santos, and Thomas Söding, a major proponent of the German Synodal Way.

A delegate participates in round-table discussions at the Synod on Synodality, Oct. 10, 2023. Credit: Vatican Media

Fourteen of the experts were also part of a group of approximately 20 experts who helped draft the Synod on Synodality’s document for the continental stage at the end of September 2022.

The report produced at the end of this month will be revisited during the October 2024 synod assembly, Ruffini explained.

The Commission for the Synthesis Report, who will oversee the writing of the draft report, is made up of 13 members — seven members elected by the synod assembly on Oct. 9, three members personally appointed by Pope Francis, three de facto members from the Secretariat of the Synod.

Here is who will oversee the drafting of the synod synthesis report:

Members appointed by Pope Francis

Father Giuseppe Bonfrate, Italy, is a theology professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University, where he teaches courses on the sacraments and the Second Vatican Council. He is the director of the university’s Alberto Hurtado Center for Faith and Culture and served as an expert in the 2015 Synod on the Family and the 2019 Synod on the Pan-Amazonian region.

Sister Patricia Murray, IBVM, Ireland, has spent nearly a decade as the executive secretary of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG). The sister with the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto Sisters) previously worked as a secondary school teacher, principal, and a peace education officer and was appointed as a consultant for the Vatican Dicastery for Culture and Education earlier this year.

Cardinal Giorgio Marengo, IMC, apostolic prefect of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, is the world’s youngest cardinal at the age of 49. Originally from northern Italy, Marengo has spent two decades as a missionary in Mongolia, where he was appointed apostolic prefect in 2020.

Pope Francis at the Synod on Synodality on Oct. 10, 2023. Credit: Vatican Media

Members elected by the synod assembly

Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, OFMCap, Democratic Republic of Congo, is the archbishop of Kinshasa and is the president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM). He was made a cardinal by Pope Francis in 2019. The African cardinal said at a synod press conference on Oct. 7 that the outcome of the Synod on Synodality will be “welcomed by everyone as the will of God.”

Cardinal Jean-Marc Aveline, France, is the archbishop of Marseille, where he has emphasized the importance of dialogue between Christians and Muslims and welcoming migrants. Pope Francis made him a cardinal in 2022. The Algerian-born Frenchman has headed the French bishops’ conference council for interreligious relations since 2017. He welcomed the pope to Marseille last month for the “Mediterranean Encounter.”

Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, ISPX, Canada, has served as the archbishop of Quebec and primate of Canada since 2011. He spent eight years as a missionary priest in Colombia with the Pius X Secular Institute and served as director general of the institute for nearly 10 years. He was named in early 2023 to the pope’s Council of Cardinals.

Bishop Shane Anthony Mackinlay, Australia, has served as the bishop of Sandhurst since 2019 and was the master of Catholic Theological College in Melbourne for nearly 10 years. He participated in the German Synodal Way session in March, where he spoke about the need for pastoral care for children in Catholic schools who have same-sex attractions.

Archbishop José Luis Azuaje Ayala, Venezuela, has been president of the Venezuelan bishops’ conference and is currently vice president of CELAM. He participated in the 2019 Synod for the Amazon. In an interview in 2018 he said: “I think Pope Francis is doing what a pope should do: encourage, get to the heart of the message. … With parrhesia the pope carries the weight of renewal and does so looking to the future with hope. We see it in the convocation of the youth synod, in the agreement with China, and in its constant rapprochement with minorities.”

Bishop Mounir Khairallah, Lebanon, has served as the eparch of the Maronite Catholic Eparchy of Batroun, Lebanon, since 2012. He studied at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome and at the Catholic University of Paris.

Father Clarence Sandanaraj Davedassan, Malaysia, is the director of the Catholic Research Center in Kuala Lumpur. A priest of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, Davedassan is the executive secretary for the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences’ Office of Theological Concerns and has been a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue since 2013. He gave a livestreamed testimony at the Synod on Synodality’s General Congregation on Oct. 9.

Members from synod leadership

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, SJ, relator general, is one of the leading organizers of the ongoing Synod on Synodality as the relator general. The Jesuit archbishop of Luxembourg was added to Pope Francis’ council of cardinal advisers earlier this year. He said in an interview in March that he believes that a future pope could allow women priests and that he finds “the part of the teaching calling homosexuality ‘intrinsically disordered’ a bit dubious.”

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich (left), relator general of the Synod on Synodality, and Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary general of the Synod, at the Oct. 9, 2023, general congregation. Credit: Vatican Media

Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary general of the General Secretariat of the Synod, is the former bishop of Gozo, Malta. He was one of two authors of the Maltese bishops’ controversial pastoral guidelines on Amoris Laetitia, which stated that divorced and remarried Catholics, in certain cases and after “honest discernment,” could receive Communion. Last year, Grech decried the public criticism of the German “Synodal Way” as “denunciation.”

Father Riccardo Battocchio is one of two special secretaries for the Synod on Synodality. The Italian priest from the Diocese of Padua is the rector of the Almo Collegio Capranica in Rome and the president of the Italian Theological Association.

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