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Canadian bishops to meet Monday to discuss euthanasia, protection of minors

Priests celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving for two new Canadian Saints in St. Peter's Basilica on Oct. 12, 2014. / Lauren Cater/CNA.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 22, 2023 / 16:45 pm (CNA).

Catholic bishops in Canada will gather next week, the final week of September, to discuss a series of issues including the growth of euthanasia, the Church’s work in overseas development, and the protection of minors.

The 2023 Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), which is held annually, will begin on Monday, Sept. 25, and conclude on Thursday, Sept. 28. The meeting will take place in King City, Ontario, just outside of Toronto, and 79 Latin and Eastern-rite bishops are expected to participate.

One of the main topics to be discussed is the growth of euthanasia throughout Canada, which is known legally as Medical Assistance in Dying, or MAiD. Although voluntary euthanasia has been legal in Canada since 2016, a revision of that law going into effect in March 2024 will vastly expand eligibility.

More than 30,000 Canadians died from euthanasia between 2016 and 2021, and it has seen a growth in use annually. The revision, which will go into effect in less than six months, will make mental illness an eligible condition to receive approval for MAiD, opening the procedure up to significantly more people.

The Standing Committee for Family and Life, chaired by Archbishop Christian Lépine, will hold a panel discussion on this topic, which is meant to help the Church “engage with the urgency of promoting palliative care” rather than euthanasia.

Another aspect of the meeting will focus on Development and Peace — Caritas Canada, known as DPCC. This project encompasses charity and development work overseas. Clergy on the DPCC National Council will update the bishops on the activities since last year and will be joined by DPCC President Brenda Arakaza and Executive Director Carl Hétu.

The bishops will also discuss “safeguarding persons in vulnerable situations,” which includes minors. The Standing Committee for Responsible Ministry has been studying this issue over the past year and intends to discuss how to define vulnerability, how to reduce risks, and what behaviors to encourage on the part of the ministry.

Part of the meeting will also focus on the upcoming Synod on Synodality. According to the CCCB, there will be four Canadian bishops taking part in the synod and four non-bishop Catholics chosen by the Vatican. 

“In order to help prepare the episcopal delegates, bishops present at the Plenary Assembly meeting will reflect on one of the three dimensions of synodality (communion, participation, and mission), guided by the questions in the Instrumentum Laboris and the results of the ‘national’ and ‘continental’ stages of the synod process,” a statement from the CCCB read.

The bishops will also review various reports from subcommittees, which will include topics such as liturgy, catechesis, and evangelization. Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle from the Philippines will address the bishops virtually and the apostolic nuncio to Canada, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, will also give an address.

“A meeting of the Plenary Assembly is a solemn and momentous event in the life of the Church in Canada because it gathers together all the members of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), who total 79 bishops of the Latin and Eastern Churches across Canada,” a statement from the CCCB read. “Decisions taken by the Plenary Assembly are the highest instance of authority within the CCCB and represent the unity of action of all the bishops on a national level.”

Woman arrested for silent prayer at UK abortion clinics gets police apology

“This isn’t 1984, but 2023 —I should never have been arrested or investigated simply for the thoughts I held in my own mind,” Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, who was arrested for praying outside of an abortion clinic, said Sept. 22, 2023. / Credit: ADF UK

CNA Staff, Sep 22, 2023 / 15:30 pm (CNA).

Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, the woman twice arrested for silent prayer outside U.K. abortion clinics, has received a police apology and confirmation that she will not face charges for violating a local “buffer zone” protection order. 

Though Vaughan-Spruce said she would return to the clinic to pray, she warned that her treatment has implications for the future of basic freedoms in the U.K.

“This isn’t 1984, but 2023 — I should never have been arrested or investigated simply for the thoughts I held in my own mind,” Vaughan-Spruce said, alluding to George Orwell’s dystopian novel. “Silent prayer is never criminal,” she said in a Sept. 22 statement.

On March 6, Vaughan-Spruce was arrested for praying in a “buffer zone” outside an abortion clinic on Station Road, Birmingham. Local authorities had declared a Public Space Protection Order near the clinic, using a legal mechanism intended to prevent antisocial behavior. 

Prohibited activities in this zone include approval or disapproval of abortion through protest, which “includes but is not limited to graphic, verbal, or written means, prayer, or counseling.” The order also bars interference, intimidation, or harassment, recording or photographic clinic staff or clients, and the display of any text or imagery related to abortion.

Vaughan-Spruce was previously arrested Dec. 6, 2022, for silent prayer outside the same abortion facility, which was closed at the time. In February, the Birmingham Magistrates’ Court acquitted her of all charges related to the first case. 

Isabel Spruce-Vaughn was arrested twice for praying outside abortion clinics. Credit: ADF UK
Isabel Spruce-Vaughn was arrested twice for praying outside abortion clinics. Credit: ADF UK

West Midlands police apologized to Vaughan-Spruce for taking so long to close her second case. They said there would be no further investigation and no further action taken.

Vaughan-Spruce welcomed the end of the investigation and the police apology but said her case highlights “the extremely harmful implications” of what happened to her.

“What happened to me signals to others that they too could face arrest, interrogation, investigation, and potential prosecution if caught exercising their basic freedom of thought,” she said.

Police initially told Vaughan-Spruce the delay was due to her case being referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for charges, though CPS has denied this claim, according to ADF UK. CPS had no information about her second case and said police should not refer such cases to the CPS when they have the power to decide on charges themselves.

Vaughan-Spruce is the director of March for Life UK and helps support women in crisis pregnancies. She has regularly prayed near abortion clinics for 20 years.

“Now that authorities have twice settled on the conclusion that silent prayer is not a crime — a conclusion also reached by the Home Secretary last week — I am thankful to resume my practice of praying silently for women in crisis pregnancies,” she said.

Pope Francis in Marseille: It’s ‘a duty of humanity’ to save migrants abandoned at sea

Pope Francis speaks during a meeting with local religious leaders at a memorial dedicated to sailors and migrants lost at sea on the first of a two-day visit to Marseille, France, Sept. 22, 2023. / Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA

Rome Newsroom, Sep 22, 2023 / 14:53 pm (CNA).

In Marseille on Friday, before a memorial to people lost at sea, Pope Francis said humanity is at a crossroads between fraternity and indifference regarding the migrant crisis.

“We can no longer watch the drama of shipwrecks, caused by the cruel trafficking and the fanaticism of indifference,” he said Sept. 22. “People who are at risk of drowning when abandoned on the waves must be rescued. It is a duty of humanity; it is a duty of civilization.”

“On the one hand, there is fraternity, which makes the human community flourish with goodness; on the other, indifference, which bloodies the Mediterranean. We find ourselves at a crossroads of civilization.”

The pope spoke during a meeting with local religious leaders at a memorial dedicated to sailors and migrants lost at sea on the first of a two-day visit to Marseille.

“Before us,” he said, “is the sea, a source of life, yet this place evokes the tragedy of shipwrecks, which cause death.”

Pope Francis asks for a moment of silence at a memorial dedicated to sailors and migrants lost at sea on the first of a two-day visit to Marseille, France, Sept. 22, 2023. A Camargue cross, which comes from the Camargue area of France, represents the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. The three tridents represent faith, the anchor represents hope, and the heart represents charity. Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA
Pope Francis asks for a moment of silence at a memorial dedicated to sailors and migrants lost at sea on the first of a two-day visit to Marseille, France, Sept. 22, 2023. A Camargue cross, which comes from the Camargue area of France, represents the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. The three tridents represent faith, the anchor represents hope, and the heart represents charity. Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA

“We are gathered in memory of those who did not make it, who were not saved. Let us not get used to considering shipwrecks as news stories, and deaths at sea as numbers: No, they are names and surnames, they are faces and stories, they are broken lives and shattered dreams,” he continued.

Francis is in Marseille to participate in the Mediterranean Encounter, the “Rencontres Mediterraneennes” — a gathering of some 120 young people of various creeds with bishops from 30 countries.

The day after the pope’s visit — and the concluding day of the encounter, Sunday, Sept. 24 — is the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

The first quarter of 2023 was the deadliest since 2017 in the Central Mediterranean, with at least 441 people dying, though that’s considered an undercount. The U.N.’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) calls it a “persisting humanitarian crisis” that is “intolerable.” More than 20,000 people have died on Central Mediterranean migration routes since 2014.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis marked the 10-year anniversary of his first trip as pope: to Lampedusa, an island between Sicily and Tunisia and Libya, and the center of many migrant disasters.

In personal comments with journalists aboard the papal plane from Rome earlier in the day, Pope Francis lamented the “cruelty, a lack of humanity,” on Lampedusa, where hundreds of migrants have arrived almost every day in recent weeks.

The Italian island, which is smaller than eight square miles and has a population of about 6,400, has declared a state of emergency as it struggles to respond to the situation.

“I hope I have the courage to say everything I want to say,” the pope told Spanish journalist Eva Fernández of COPE Radio.

“After the Libyan concentration camps they throw them into the sea,” he said upon seeing a photo of a migrant child who arrived on Lampedusa.

A Camargue cross, which comes from the Camargue area of France, represents the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. The three tridents represent faith, the anchor represents hope, and the heart represents charity. Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA
A Camargue cross, which comes from the Camargue area of France, represents the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. The three tridents represent faith, the anchor represents hope, and the heart represents charity. Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA

At the memorial, Pope Francis asked for a moment of silence.

“We need to show some humanity: silence, weeping, compassion, and prayer. I now invite you to spend a moment of silence in memory of these brothers and sisters of ours: Let us be moved by their tragedies,” he said.

“God will bless us,” the pope added, “if on land and at sea we know how to take care of the weakest, if we can overcome the paralysis of fear and the disinterest that, with velvet gloves, condemns others to death.”

The memorial to those lost at sea is a Camargue cross, which comes from the Camargue area of France. The design of the cross represents the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. The three tridents represent faith, the anchor represents hope, and the heart represents charity.

Pope Francis entrusts to Mary ‘Mediterranean Encounter’ with youth and bishops

Pope Francis entrusted a meeting of Mediterranean bishops and youth to the Virgin Mary during the first appointment of a two-day trip to Marseille, France, Sept. 22, 2023. The model ships hanging in Marseille's Basilica de Notre-Dame de la Garde are a testament to the faith of the sailors who have relied on the intercession of Our Lady over the centuries. / Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/EWTN News

CNA Staff, Sep 22, 2023 / 14:33 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis on Friday entrusted a meeting of Mediterranean bishops and youth to the Virgin Mary during the first appointment of a two-day trip to Marseille, France.

After landing in the historic port city Sept. 22, the pope made his way to the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde, or the Basilica of Our Lady of the Guard, to ask for the intercession of Mary together with local priests, deacons, and religious.

The 19th-century basilica sits on the foundations of an ancient fort on a 489-foot limestone outcropping, the highest point of the city in southern France. Before the basilica, there was a medieval chapel on the same site.

Pope Francis entrusts a meeting of Mediterranean bishops and youth to the Virgin Mary during the first appointment of a two-day trip to Marseille, France, Sept. 22, 2023. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis entrusts a meeting of Mediterranean bishops and youth to the Virgin Mary during the first appointment of a two-day trip to Marseille, France, Sept. 22, 2023. Credit: Vatican Media

Pope Francis is in Marseille to participate in the Mediterranean Encounter, the “Rencontres Méditerranéennes” — a gathering of some 120 young people of various creeds with bishops from 30 countries. The encounter is a “cultural festival” drawing together associations and groups committed to dialogue and ecological issues. 

“We place under [Mary’s] mantle the fruit of the Rencontres Méditerranéennes, together with the expectations and hopes of your hearts,” the pope told clergy at the basilica Sept. 22.

The pope will join in the Mediterranean Encounter on the morning of Sept. 23.

Francis’ 27-hour trip will include an address to religious leaders, a private encounter with the poor, and the celebration of Mass. He will also meet with France’s President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne.

The last pope to visit Marseille was Clement VII in 1533. 

Pope Francis entrusts a meeting of Mediterranean bishops and youth to the Virgin Mary during the first appointment of a two-day trip to Marseille, France, Sept. 22, 2023, at the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde, or the Basilica of Our Lady of the Guard. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis entrusts a meeting of Mediterranean bishops and youth to the Virgin Mary during the first appointment of a two-day trip to Marseille, France, Sept. 22, 2023, at the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde, or the Basilica of Our Lady of the Guard. Credit: Vatican Media

Father Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, also visited the city and the Basilica of Notre Dame de La Garde when he was a young priest studying in Rome.

Pope Francis said he is “in the company of great pilgrims” who have visited the basilica, such as Pope John Paul II, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, and St. Charles de Foucauld. 

“In the biblical reading, the prophet Zephaniah exhorted us to joy and confidence, reminding us that the Lord our God is not far away, he is here, near to us, in order to save us,” the pope said.

“In a way, this message reminds us of the history of this basilica and what it represents,” he continued. “In fact, it was not founded in memory of a miracle or a particular apparition, but simply because, since the 13th century, the holy people of God have sought and found here, on the hill of La Garde, the presence of the Lord through the eyes of his holy Mother.”

“That is why, for centuries, the people of Marseille — especially those who navigate the waves of the Mediterranean — have been coming up here to pray,” he said.

Francis encouraged the 119 priests of the Archdiocese of Marseille, which serves approximately 742,000 Catholics, to take Mary and her gaze as an example for their priesthood.

Pope Francis entrusts a meeting of Mediterranean bishops and youth to the Virgin Mary during the first appointment of a two-day trip to Marseille, France, Sept. 22, 2023, at the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde, or the Basilica of Our Lady of the Guard. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis entrusts a meeting of Mediterranean bishops and youth to the Virgin Mary during the first appointment of a two-day trip to Marseille, France, Sept. 22, 2023, at the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde, or the Basilica of Our Lady of the Guard. Credit: Vatican Media

“Even with all the many daily concerns, I beg you, do not detract from the warmth of God’s paternal and maternal gaze,” he said. “It is marvelous to generously dispense his forgiveness, that is, to always, always, loosen the chains of sin through grace and free people from those obstacles, regrets, grudges, and fears against which they cannot prevail alone.”

He reminded the priests of the beauty and joy of making the sacraments available to people in both happy and sad moments, “and of transmitting, in the name of God, unexpected hopes for his consoling presence, healing compassion, and moving tenderness.”

“Be close to all, especially the frail and less fortunate, and never let those who suffer lack your attentive and discreet closeness,” he said. “In this way, there will grow in them and also in you the faith that animates the present, the hope that opens to the future, and the charity that lasts forever.”

“Like Mary, let us bring the blessing and peace of Jesus everywhere, in every family and heart,” Pope Francis said.

Synod on Synodality: Read the final list of delegates

Pope Francis led the opening procession of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region from St. Peter's Basilica to the Synod Hall where he led the opening prayer, Oct. 7, 2019. / Credit: Vatican Media

CNA Newsroom, Sep 22, 2023 / 13:42 pm (CNA).

The Vatican on Sept. 21 released the final list of names of those participating in the upcoming Synod on Synodality assembly in October, including laypeople who will be full voting delegates at a Catholic Church synod for the first time.

The delegates are made up of representatives selected by bishops’ conferences and Eastern Catholic Churches, leaders in the Roman Curia, and 120 delegates personally selected by Pope Francis.

In total, 363 people will be able to vote in the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, according to statistics released by the Holy See Press Office on July 7. Among them, 54 of the voting delegates are women.

In addition to the voting members, 75 other participants have been invited to the synod assembly to act as facilitators, experts, or spiritual assistants.

Here is full list of participants:


Pope Francis 

General Secretary 

Cardinal Mario Grech of Malta

President’s Delegates

His Beatitude Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak, Patriarch of Alexandria, head of the Synod of The Coptic Catholic Church, Egypt

Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes, archbishop of Mexico City, Mexico 

Archbishop Gerardo Cabrera Herrera, OFM, of Guayaquil, Ecuador

Archbishop Timothy John Costelloe, SDB, of Perth, Australia

Bishop Daniel Ernest Flores of Brownsville, Texas, USA 

Bishop Lúcio Andrice Muandula of Xai-Xai, Mozambique

Father Giuseppe Bonfrate, Italy

Sister Maria De Los Dolores Palencia, CSJ, Mexico

Momoko Nishimura, SEMD, Japan

General Relator

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, SJ, archbishop of Luxembourg

Special Secretaries

Father Giacomo Costa, SJ, Italy, president of Fondazione Culturale San Fedele of Milan, national spiritual companion of the Italian Christian Workers Associations 

Father Riccardo Battocchio, Italy, rector of the Almo Collegio Capranica, president of the Italian Theological Association

Commission for Information 

President: Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, Vatican City 

Secretary: Sheila Leocádia Pires, communications officer, Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), Mozambique

From the Eastern Catholic Churches

His Beatitude Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak, Coptic Church Patriarch of Alexandria, head of the Synod of the Coptic Catholic Church

His Beatitude Youssef Absi, patriarch of Antioch of the Greek-Melkites, head of the Synod of the Greek Melkite Catholic Church

His Beatitude Ignace Youssef Iii Younan, patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, head of the Synod of the Syrian Catholic Church

Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï, OMM, patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, head of the Synod of the Maronite Church

Bishop Mounir Khairallah of Batrun of the Maronites

Cardinal Louis Raphaël I Sako, patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, head of the Synod of the Chaldean Church

His Beatitude Raphaël Bedros XXI Minassian, ICPB, patriarch of Cilicia of Armenians, head of the Synod of the Armenian Catholic Church

His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halyc, Kyiv, head of the Synod of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

Bishop Teodor Martynyuk, MSU, Titular Bishop of Mopta, auxiliary bishop of Ternopil-Zboriv

Monsignor Bohdan Dzyurakh, CSSR, Apostolic Exarch of Germany and Scandinavia, titular bishop of Vagada

Cardinal George Alencherry, major archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, head of the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church

Metropolitan Archbishop Andrews Thazhath of Trichur, president of the Catholic bishops’ conference of India

Archbishop Joseph Pamplany of Tellicherry, India

His Beatitude Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, head of the Synod of the Syro-Malankara Church

Bishop Cristian Dumitru Crişan, titular bishop of Abula, auxiliary bishop of Fagaras Si Alba Iulia Dei Romanians

Cardinal Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, metropolitan archbishop of Addis Abeba, president of the Ethiopian and Eritrean bishops’ conference, president of the Council of the Ethiopian Church

Metropolitan Archbishop William Charles Skurla of the Byzantine Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, president of the Council of the Ruthenian Church  

Bishop Milan Lach, SJ, auxiliary bishop of Bratislava, Slovakia

Metropolitan Archbishop Menghesteab Tesfamariam of Asmara, president of the Council of the Eritrean Church 

Metropolitan Archbishop Fülöp Kocsis of Hajdúdorog for the Byzantine Catholics, president of the Council of the Hungarian Church 

Episcopal Conferences 


Northern Africa (CERNA)

Cardinal Cristóbal López Romero, SDB, archbishop of Rabat, Morocco

Angola and Sao Tome

Bishop Joaquim Nhanganga Tyombe of of Uíje, Angola


Archbishop Coffi Roger Anoumou, bishop of Lokossa

Botswana, South Africa, and Eswatini

Archbishop Anton Dabula Mpako, archbishop of Pretoria, military ordinary of South Africa

Burkina Faso and Niger

Archbishop Gabriel Sayaogo of Koupéla, Burkina Faso


Archbishop Georges Bizimana, bishop of Ngozi


Archbishop Emmanuel Dassi Youfang of Bafia

Bishop Philippe Alain Mbarga of Ebolowa


Bishop Nicolas Nadji Bab of Laï

Republic of Congo

Bishop Ildevert Mathurin Mouanga of Kinkala

Democratic Republic of Congo

Archbishop Marcel Utembi Tapa of Kisangani

Bishop Pierre-Célestin Tshitoko Mamba of Luebo

Côte D’ivoire (Ivory Coast)

Archbishop Marcellin Kouadio Yao of Daloa


Archbishop Markos Ghebremedhin, CM, apostolic vicar of Jimma-Bonga, titular bishop of Gummi of Proconsulari


Archbishop Jean-Patrick Iba-Ba of Libreville

Gambia and Sierra Leone

Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles of Freetown, Sierra Leone


Bishop Emmanuel Kofi Fianu, SVD, of Ho

Archbishop Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle of Cape Coast


Archbishop Vincent Coulibaly of Conarkry

Equatorial Guinea

Bishop Juan Domingo-Beka Esono Ayang, CMF, of Mongomo, president of the Episcopal Conference


Archbishop Martin Kivuva Musonde of Mombasa, president of the Episcopal Conference

Archbishop Anthony Muheria of Nyeri


Bishop John Joale Tlhomola, SCP, of Mohale’s Hoek


Bishop Anthony Fallah Borwah of Gbarnga


Auxiliary Bishop Jean Pascal Andriantsoavina of Antananavarivo, titular bishop of Zallata


Archbishop George Desmond Tambala, OCD, of Lilongwe, apostolic administrator of Zomba


Bishop Hassa Florent Koné of San


Archbishop Inácio Saure, IMC, of Nampula


Archbishop Liborius Ndumbukuti Nashenda, OMI, of Windhoek


Bishop Donatus Aihmiosion Ogun, OSA, of Uromi

Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Abuja

Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji of Owerri

Indian Ocean (CEDOI)

Bishop Alain Harel of Port Victoria

Central African Republic

Bishop Nestor-Désiré Nongo-Aziagbia, SMA, of Bossangoa


Bishop Edouard Sinayobye of Cyangugu

Senegal, Mauritania, Cape Verde, and Guinea-Bissau

Bishop Ildo Augusto Dos Santos Lopes Fortes of Mindelo, Cape Verde


Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla of Juba, South Sudan


Archbishop Jude Thaddaeus Ruwa'ichi, OFM Cap, of Dar-Es-Salaam

Bishop Flavian Kassala of Geita


Bishop Dominique Banlène Guigbile of Dapaong


Bishop Sanctus Lino Wanok of Lira


Archbishop Ignatius Chama of Kasama


Bishop Raphael Macebo Mabuza Ncube of Hwange



Archbishop Charles Jason Gordon of Porto of Spain


Bishop Óscar Vicente Ojea of San Isidro

Archbishop Marcelo Daniel Colombo of Mendoza

Archbishop Carlos Alfonso Azpiroz Costa, OP, of Bahía Blanca


Bishop Pedro Luis Fuentes Valencia, CP, of La Paz, Titular Bishop of Temuniana


Bishop Joel Portella Amado of São Sebastião do Rio De Janeiro, titular bishop of Carmeiano

Bishop Pedro Carlos Cipollini of Santo André

Cardinal Paulo Cezar Costa of Brasília

Archbishop Leonardo Ulrich Steiner, OFM, of Manaus

Bishop Dirceu De Oliveira Medeiros of Camaçari


Bishop Marc Pelchat of Québec, titular bishop of Lambesi

Bishop Raymond Poisson of Saint-Jérôme-Mont-Laurier

Archbishop John Michael Miller, CSB, of Vancouver

Bishop William Terrence Mcgrattan of Calgary


Archbishop Luis Fernando Ramos Pérez of Puerto Montt

Bishop Carlos Alberto Godoy Labraña of Santiago de Chile, titular bishop of Pudenziana


Archbishop Luis José Rueda Aparicio of Bogotá

Archbishop Ricardo Antonio Tobón Restrepo of Medellín

Archbishop José Miguel Gómez Rodríguez of Manizales

Costa Rica

Bishop Javier Gerardo Román Arias of Limón


Bishop Marcos Pirán of Holguín, titular bishop of Boseta


Archbishop Luis Gerardo Cabrera Herrera, OFM, of Guayaquil

Bishop David Israel De La Torre Altamirano, SsCc, of Quito, titular bishop of Bagai

El Salvador

Bishop William Ernesto Iraheta Rivera of Santiago De María


Bishop Juan Manuel Cuá Ajacúm of Los Altos, titular bishop of Rosella


Archbishop Launay Saturné of Cap-Haïtie, president of the episcopal conference


Archbishop José Vicente Nácher Tatay, CM, of Tegucigalpa


Bishop Gerardo Díaz Vázquez of Tacámbaro

Bishop Oscar Efraín Tamez Villarreal of Ciudad Victoria

Archbishop Faustino Armendáriz Jiménez of Durango

Bishop Adolfo Miguel Castaño Fonseca of Azcapotzalco


Bishop Sócrates René Sándigo Jirón of León 


Bishop Edgardo Cedeño Muñoz, SVD, of Penonomé


Bishop Miguel Ángel Cabello Almada of Concepción En Paraguay


Archbishop Héctor Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte, OFM, of Trujillo

Bishop Edinson Edgardo Farfán Córdova, OSA, Bishop Prelate of Chuquibambilla

Cardinal Archbishop Pedro Ricardo Barreto Jimeno, SJ, of Huancayo

Puerto Rico

Bishop Rubén Antonio González Medina, CMF, of Ponce

Dominican Republic

Bishop Ramón Alfredo De La Cruz Baldera of San Francisco De Macorís

United States of America

Bishop Timothy Broglio, military ordinary of the United States of America

Bishop Daniel Ernest Flores of Brownsville, Texas

Bishop Robert Emmet Barron of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota

Bishop Kevin Carl Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana

Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, archbishop of New York


Bishop Milton Luis Tróccoli Cebedio of Maldonado-Punta Del Este-Minas


Bishop Juan Carlos Bravo Salazar of Petare

Archbishop José Luis Azuaje Ayala of Maracaibo


Central Asia 

Cardinal Giorgio Marengo, IMC, Apostolic Prefect of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia


Archbishop Bejoy Nicephorus D’cruze, OMI, of Dhaka

China (Chinese Regional Bishops’ Conference)

Bishop Norbert Pu of Kiayi, Taiwan


Archbishop Peter Chung Soon-Taick, OCD, of Seoul


Bishop Pablo Virgilio S. David of Kalookan

Cardinal Archbishop Jose F. Advincula of Manila

Bishop Mylo Hubert C. Vergara of Pasig


Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, SVD, of Tokyo

India (CCBI)

Cardinal Filipe Neri António Sebastião Do Rosário Ferrão, archbishop of Goa and Damão

Archbishop George Antonysamy of Madras and Mylapore

Bishop Alex Joseph Vadakumthala of Kannur

Cardinal Anthony Poola, Archbishop of Hyderabad


Bishop Antonius Subianto Bunjamin, OSC, of Bandung

Bishop Adrianus Sunarko, OFM, of Pangkalpinang


Archbishop Dominique Mathieu, OFM Conv, of Tehran-Ispahan of the Latins

Laos and Cambodia

Father Enrique Figaredo Alvargonzalez, SJ, Apostolic Prefect of Battambang, Cambodia 


Cardinal William Seng Chye Goh, archbishop of Singapore


Bishop John Saw Yaw Han of Kengtung

Arab countries

Monsignor Paolo Martinelli, OFM Cap, apostolic vicar of South Arabia


Monsignor Khalid Rehmat, OFM Cap, apostolic vicar of Quetta

Sri Lanka

Bishop Raymond Kingsley Wickramasinghe of Galle


Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij, archbishop of Bangkok

East Timor

Cardinal Virgilio Do Carmo Da Silva, SDB, archbishop of Díli


Bishop Joseph Đo Manh Hùng of Phan Thiêt

Bishop Louis Nguyên Anh Tuán of Hà Tinh



Archbishop Arjan Dodaj, FDC, of Tiranë-Durrës


Archbishop Franz Lackner, OFM, of Salzburg


Bishop Koenraad Vanhoutte of Mechelen-Brussels, titular bishop of Tagora


Bishop Aliaksandr Yasheuski, SDB, of Minsk-Mohilev, titular bishop of Fornos Major

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bishop Marko Semren, OFM, of Banja Luka, titular bishop of Abaradira


Bishop Strahil Veselinov Kavalenov of Nicopolis

The Czech Republic 

Bishop Zdenek Wasserbauer of Praha, titular bishop of Butrint

International Episcopal Conference of Sts. Cyril and Methodius

Archbishop Ladislav Nemet, SVD, of Beograd, Serbia, president of the episcopal conference


Bishop Ivan Ćurić, Auxiliary of Ðakovo-Osijek, titular bishop of Tela

Russian Federation

Archbishop Paolo Pezzi, FSCB, of Mother of God in Moscow


Bishop Alexandre Joly of Troyes

Bishop Jean-Marc Eychenne of Grenoble-Vienne

Bishop Matthieu Rougé of Nanterre

Bishop Benoît Bertrand of Mende


Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg

Bishop Bertram Johannes Meier of Augsburg

Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen, military ordinary for the Federal Republic of Germany

Great Britain (England and Wales)

Archbishop John Wilson of Southwark

Bishop Marcus Stock of Leeds

Great Britain (Scotland)

Bishop Brian Mcgee of Argyll and the Isles


Archbishop Georgios Altouvas of Corfu, Zakynthos, and Kefalonia


Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick

Bishop Alexander Aloysius McGuckian, SJ, of Raphoe


Archbishop Roberto Repole of Turin, bishop of Susa

Bishop Franco Giulio Brambilla of Novara

Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto

Archbishop Domenico Battaglia of Naples

Archbishop Mario Enrico Delpini of Milan


Archbishop Zbigņev Stankevičs of Riga


Bishop Algirdas Jurevičius of Telšiai


Archbishop Charles Jude Scicluna of Malta


Bishop Theodorus Cornelis Maria Hoogenboom of Utrecht, titular bishop of Bistue


Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki of Poznań

Archbishop Adrian Józef Galbas, SAC, coadjutor archbishop of Katowice

Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski of Kraków


Bishop Virgílio do Nascimento Antunes of Coimbra

Bishop José Ornelas Carvalho, SCI, of Leiria-Fátima


Archbishop Gergely Kovács of Alba Iulia, apostolic administrator, Ad Nutum Sanctæ Sedis of the Ordinariate for Catholics of the Armenian Rite residing in Romania


Bishop Czeslaw Kozon of København, Denmark


Bishop Marek Forgáč of Košice, Titular Bishop of Seleuciana


Bishop Maksimilijan Matjaž of Celje


Archbishop Vicente Jiménez Zamora, archbishop emeritus of Zaragoza 

Archbishop Luis Javier Argüello García of Valladolid

Bishop Francisco Simón Conesa Ferrer of Solsona


Bishop Felix Gmür of Basel


Bishop Massimiliano Palinuro, apostolic vicar of Istanbul, apostolic administrator Vacant See of the Apostolic Exarchate of Istanbul 


Bishop Oleksandr Yazlovetskiy of Kyiv-Zhytomyr, titular bishop of Tulana


Bishop Gábor Mohos Mohos of Esztergom-Budapest, titular bishop of Iliturgi



Archbishop Patrick Michael O'Regan of Adelaide

Bishop Shane Anthony Mackinlay of Sandhurst

New Zealand

Archbishop Paul Gerard Martin, SM, coadjutor of Wellington


Bishop Paul Patrick Donoghue, SM, of Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands

Bishop Dariusz Piotr Kałuża, MSF, of Bougainville

Bishops Without an Episcopal Conference


Archbishop Selim Jean Sfeir of Cyprus of the Maronites

Presidents of International Meetings of Episcopal Conferences

Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa And Madagascar (SECAM)

Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, OFM Cap

Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC)

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, SDB

Federation of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO)

Bishop Antony Randazzo

Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE)

Bishop Gintaras Grušas

Latin American Bishops’ Council (CELAM)

Bishop Jaime Spengler, OFM

The Union of Superiors General and the International Union of Superiors General

Sister Mary Theresa Barron, OLA, president of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG)

Sister Elizabeth Mary Davis, RSM

Brother Mark Hilton, SC, superior general of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart

Sister Elysée Izerimana, Op SDN, general councilor of the Working Sisters of the Holy House of Nazareth

Abbot Mauro-Giuseppe Lepori, O Cist, abbot general of the Cistercian Order

Sister Patricia Murray, IBVM, executive secretary of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG)

Sister Nirmala Alex Maria Nazareth, AC, superior general of the Sisters of the Apostolic Carmel

Brother Ernesto Sánchez, FMS, superior general of the Marist Brothers 

Father Arturo Sosa, SI, superior general of the Society of Jesus

Father Gebresilasie Tadesse Tesfaye, MCCJ, superior general of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus

Heads of Dicasteries of the Roman Curia

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of state

Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, sostituto for the Secretariat of State

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for the Relations with States

Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, pro-prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization 

Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, pro-prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization 

Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández, future prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith

Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, papal almoner, prefect of the Dicastery for the Service of Charity

Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches

Cardinal Arthur Roche, prefect for the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, MCCJ, prefect of the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue

Archbishop Robert Francis Prevost, OSA, prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops

Cardinal Lazarus You Heung-Sik, prefect of the Dicastery for the Clergy

Cardinal João Braz De Aviz, prefect of the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life

Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life

Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Dicastery of the Causes of Saints

Cardinal Kurt Koch, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity

Cardinal José Tolentino De Mendonça, prefect of the Dicastery for Culture And Education

Cardinal Michael Czerny, SJ, prefect of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development

Archbishop Filippo Iannone, O Carm, prefect of the Dicastery for Legislative Texts

Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Dicastery for Communication

Members nominated by Pope Francis 

Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes, archbishop of Mexico City, Mexico

Enrique Alarcón García, president of the Christian Fraternity of People with Disabilities of Spain, Spagna

Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa De Chinchetru, secretary of the Dicastery for Legislative Texts, Vatican City

Cardinal Jeans-Marc Aveline, archbishop of Marseille, France

Father Riccardo Battocchio, rector of the Almo Collegio Capranica in Rome, president of the Italian Theological Association, Italy

Father Giuseppe Bonfrate, Italy

Bishop Dante Gustavo Braida, bishop of La Rioja, Argentina

Sister Simona Brambilla, superior general of the Consolata Missionaries, Italy

Archbishop Erio Castellucci, archbishop of Modena-Nantola-Carpi, Italy

Father Luis Miguel Castillo Gualda, rector of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Valencia, Spain

Bishop Stephen Chow Sau-Yan of Hong Kong, China

Father Giacomo Costa, SJ, president of the San Fedele Cultural Foundation of Milan; national spiritual companion of the Italian Christian Workers’ Associations, A.C.L.I., Italy

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, SDB, archbishop of Perth, Australia

Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, USA

Cardinal Jozef De Kesel, archbishop emeritus of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium

Archbishop Ignace Bessi Dogbo, archbishop of Korhogo, Ivory Coast

Bishop Lizardo Estrada Herrera, OSA, auxiliary bishop of Cuzco, Peru, titular bishop of Ausuccura, secretary general of the Latin American bishops’ conference (CELAM)

Archbishop Paul Dennis Etienne, archbishop of Seattle, USA

Cardinal Juan De La Caridad García Rodríguez, archbishop of San Cristóbal de La Habana, Cuba

Bishop Felix Genn, bishop of Münster, Germany

Cardinal Wilton Gregory, archbishop of Washington, D.C., USA

Cardinal Jeans-Claude Hollerich, SI, relator general of the Synod on Synodality, archbishop of Luxembourg

Bishop Nicholas Gilbert Hudson, auxiliary bishop of Westminster, Great Britain

Archbishop Dražen Kutleša, archbishop of Zagreb, Croatia

Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, SJ, prefect emeritus of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Vatican City

Father James Martin, SJ, USA

Cardinal Robert Walter McElroy, bishop of San Diego, USA

Bishop Marco Mellino, secretary of the Council of Cardinals, Vatican City

Bishop Gjergj Meta, bishop of Rrëshen, Albania

Bishop Lucius Andrew Muandula, bishop of Xai-Xai, Mozambique

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Vatican City

Bishop Antonello Mura, bishop of Nuoro, Italy

Archbishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu, archbishop of Harare, apostolic administrator of Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Bishop Manuel Nin, OSB, apostolic exarch for Byzantine Rite Catholics in Greece, titular bishop of Carcabia, Greece

Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, OFM Cap, archbishop of Boston, USA

Bishop Stefan Oster, SDB, bishop of Passau, Germany

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, PSS, prefect emeritus of the Dicastery for Bishops, Vatican City

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Vatican City

Bishop Joseph-Csaba Pál, bishop of Timişoara, Romania

Sister Maria De Los Dolores Palencia, CSJ

Sister Samuela Maria Rigon, SSM, superior general of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows, Italy

Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, SDB, archivist emeritus of Tegucicalpa, Honduras

Archbishop Angel S. Rossi, SJ, archbishop of Córdoba, Argentina

Father Elias Royón, vicar for consecrated life of the Archdiocese of Madrid, Spain

Archbishop Grzegorz Ryś, archbishop of Lodz, Polonia

Cristina Inogés Sanz, theologian, Spain

Father Antonio Spadaro, SJ, director of La Civiltà Cattolica, Italy

Archbishop Joseph Spiteri, apostolic nuncio to Mexico, Mexico

Sister Xiskya Lucia Valladares, Nicaragua, co-founder of Imisión, director of the communication department of the Centro De Enseñanza Superior Alberta Giménez (CESAG), Comillas Pontifical University

Sister María De Fátima Vieira Diniz, SSmoS, superior general of the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, Venezuela

Bishop Giuseppe Yang Yongqiang of Zhoucun in the Shandong Province of China

Bishop Giuseppe Yang Yongqiang of Zhoucun in the Shandon Province of China

Bishop Radoslaw Zmitrowicz, OMI, auxiliary bishop of Kamyanets-Podilskyi, Ukraine

From the Continental Assemblies (also selected by Pope Francis)


Father Vitalis Chinedu Anaehobi

Father Michel Jean-Paul Guillaud

Sister Ester Maria Lucas, FC

Sister Josée Ngalula, RSA

Norha Kofognotera Nonterah

Father Agbonkhianmeghe Emmanuel Orobator, SI

Sheila Leocádia Pires

Sister Marie Solange Randrianirin, FSP

Sister Solange Sahon Sia, NDC

Father Rafael Simbine Junior

North America

Sami Aoun

Cynthia Bailey Manns

Catherine Clifford

Richard Coll

Chantal Desmarais

Father Ivan Montelongo

Wyatt Olivas

Julia Osęka

Sister Leticia Salazar

Linda Staudt

Latin America

Erika Sally Aldunate Loza

Jesus Alberto Briceño Cherubini

Sister Rosmery Castañeda Montoya

José Manuel De Urquidi Gonzalez

María Cristina Dos Anjos Da Conceição

Sister Gloria Liliana Franco Echeverri, ODN

Sônia Gomes De Oliveira

Father Francisco Gerardo Hernández Rojas

Valeria Karina López

Néstor Esaú Velásquez Téllez


Vanessa Cheng Siu Wai

Rosalia Minus Cho Cho Tin

Father Joel Casimiro Da Costa Pinto, OFM

Father Clarence Devadass

Father William La Rousse, MM

Father Momoko Nishimura, SEMD

Estela Padilla

Anna Teresa Peter Amandus

Sister Lalitha Thomas, SJT

Father Vimal Tirimanna

Eastern Churches and the Middle East

Adel Abolouh

Father Khalil Alwan, ML

Saad Antti

Sister Houda Fadoul

Sister Caroline Jarjis

Rita Kouroumilian

Caroline Rafaat Awd Narouz

Claire Said

Lina Taschmann

Matthew Thomas


Aleksander Banka

Geert De Cubber

Giuseppina De Simone

Sister Anne Ferrand

Helena Jeppesen-Spuhler

Sister Anna Mirijam Kaschner, CPS

Father Jan Nowotnik

Oksana Pimenova

Father Luis Manuel Romero Sanchez

Maria Sabov


Manuel Beazley

Trudy Dantis

Renée Köhler-Ryan

John Lochowiak

Father Denis Nacorda

Kelly Paget

Sister Mary Angela Perez, RSM

Father Sijeesh Pullenkunnel

Susan Sela

Grace Wrackia

Under-Secretaries of the General Secretariat of the Synod

Bishop Luis Marín De San Martín, OSA, Titular Bishop of Suliana

Sister Nathalie Becquart, XMCJ

Members of the Ordinary Council

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, SDB, archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar

Bishop Jaime Calderón Calderón of Tapachula, Mexico

Cardinal Joseph Coutts, archbishop of Karachi, Pakistan

Archbishop Anthony Colin Fisher, OP, of Sydney, Australia

Archbishop Andrew Nkea Fuanya of Bamenda, Cameroon

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, India

Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, ISPX, archbishop of Québec, Canada

Archbishop Gabriel Mbilingi, CSSp, of Lubango, Angola

Cardinal Dieudonné Nzapalainga, CSSp, archbishop of Bangui, Central African Republic

Cardinal Juan José Omella Omella, archbishop of Barcelona, Spain

Cardinal Sérgio Da Rocha, metropolitan archbishop of São Salvador Da Bahia, Brazil

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, OP, archbishop of Wien, Austria, president of the Episcopal Conference of Austria

Cardinal Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet, SDB, Archbishop of Montevideo, Uruguay

Cardinal Joseph William Tobin, CSsR, archbishop of Newark, USA

His Beatitude Ignace Youssef Iii Younan, Syrian Patriarch of Antioch, head of the Synod of the Syrian Catholic Church, Lebanon

Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi, archbishop of Bologna, Italy

Special Guests

Father Alois, prior of the Taizé Community, France

Luca Casarini, Mediterranea Saving Humans, Italy

Sister Nadia Coppa, ASC, former president of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG)

Monsignor Severino Dianich, theologian, Italy

Eva Fernández Mateo, Catholic Action

Margaret Karram, Work of Mary-Focolare Movement

Father Hervé Legrand, OP, theologian, France

Monsignor Armando Matteo, secretary of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Vatican City

Father Thomas Schwartz, Germany

Other Participants

Spiritual Assistants

Father Timothy Peter Joseph Radcliffe, OP, Oxford Monastery, Great Britain

Mother Maria Ignazia Angelini, OSB, Monastery of Viboldone, Italy

Referent for the Liturgy

Father Matteo Ferrari, OSB Cam, Della Comunità Di Camaldoli

Experts and Facilitators

Father Dario Vitali, Italy, coordinator of theological experts

Wissam Abdo, Lebanon

Father Adelson Araújo Dos Santos, SI, Brazil

Father Mario Antonelli from Italy

Father Paul Béré, SJ, Burkina Faso

Sister María Luisa Berzosa González, FI, Spain

Monsignor Philippe Bordeyne, France

Monsignor Alphonse Borras, Belgium

Father Andrea Bozzolo, SDB, Italy

Father Pedro Manuel Brassesco, Argentina

Father Agenor Brighenti, Brazil

loy Bueno De La Fuente, Spain

Monsignor Valentino Bulgarelli, Italy

Father Juan Jorge Bytton Arellano, SJ, Peru

Sister Daniela Adriana Cannavina, CMR, Colombia

Sister María Suyapa Cacho Álvarez, Honduras

Father Carlo Casalone, SJ, Italy

Sandra Chaoul, Lebanon

Sister Maria Cimperman, RSCJ, USA

Monsignor Piero Coda, Italy

Professor Eamon Conway, Ireland

Sandie Cornish, Australia

Father Ian Cribb, SJ, Australia

Professor Klára Antonia Csiszár, Romania

Sister Christina Danel, superior general of the Congregation of Xavières, from France

Father Hyacinthe Destivelle, OP, France

Sister Anne Béatrice Faye, CIC, Ivory Coast

Paolo Foglizzo, Italy

Father Carlos Maria Galli, Argentina

Iris Gonzales, Dominican Republic

Eva Gullo from Italy

Father Gaby Alfred Hachem, Lebanon

Sister Philomena Shizue Hirota, MMB, Japan

Austen Ivereigh, Great Britain

Claire Jonard, Belgium

Sister Jolanta Maria Kafka, RMI, Poland

Christina Kheng, Singapore

Leonardo Lima Gorosito, Uruguay

Mauricio Lopez Oropeza, Ecuador

Sister Laurence Loubières, XMCJ, Canada

Professor Rafael Luciani, Venezuela

Father Anthony Makunde, Tanzania

Father Miguel Martin, SJ, Brazil

Father David Mc Callum, SJ, USA

Father Vito Mignozzi, Italy

Sister Paola Nelemta Ngarndiguimal, SPC, Chad

Susan Pascoe, Australia

Father Asaeli Raass, SVD, Fiji Islands

Sister Yvonne Reungoat, FMA, France

Father Gilles Routhier, Canada

Anna Rowlands, Great Britain

Father Ormond Rush, Australia

Father José San Jose Prisco, Spain

Monsignor Pierangelo Sequeri, Italy

Thomas Söding, Germany

Andrew Spiteri from Australia

Sister Nicoletta Vittoria Spezzati, ASC, Italy

Péter Szabó from Hungary

Father Christoph Theobald, SI, France

Erica Tossani, Italy

Monsignor Juan Fernando Usma Gómez, Colombia

Myriam Wijlens, Holland

General Secretariat of the Synod

Father Justo Ariel Beramendi Orellana

Thierry Bonaventura, Communication Manager

Father Pasquale Bua

Pietro Camilli

Alfonso Salvatore Cauteruccio

Andrea Cimino

Karina Fujisawa Simonetti

Tanyja George, MId

Father Ambrogio Ivan Samus

Noemi Sanches

Monsignor Tomasz Trafny

Federica Vivian

Paola Volterra Toppano

Pedro Paulo Oliveira Weizenmann

Sister Marie-Kolbe Zamora, OSF

‘We came back stronger’: Priest, seminarian abducted in Nigeria recall three-week ordeal

Father Paul Sanogo (left) and seminarian Melchior Maharini, who were kidnapped from their community of Missionaries of Africa in Nigeria’s Diocese of Minna on Aug. 3, 2023, said the terrifying experience helped their faith grow stronger. / Credit: Vatican Media

ACI Africa, Sep 22, 2023 / 12:30 pm (CNA).

Father Paul Sanogo and seminarian Melchior Maharini, who were kidnapped from their Missionaries of Africa community in Nigeria’s Catholic Diocese of Minna, came back to the community on Aug. 23 weary, traumatized, and sick.

The two had spent three weeks in captivity, where they were flogged almost daily, made to sleep on rocks out in the open, and forced to walk for miles barefoot as their kidnappers moved from spot to spot in the forest they were taken to following their Aug. 3 abduction.

When they spoke to ACI Africa on Sept. 1, about a week after their release, the two said the trauma they experienced during their captivity was a blessing, as it had strengthened their faith.

“When the men took us, I had so much fear in my heart, thinking of the worst that could happen to us. I couldn’t stop praying. And as time went by, I felt my faith grow stronger. I accepted my situation and surrendered everything to God,” Maharini, a native of Tanzania, said.

He added: “I thought about the suffering that our fathers, the early Missionaries of Africa, endured at the start of our congregation in Africa. Many died, but those who survived didn’t give up on the mission. While I was taken captive, I made a firm decision never to give up on my mission. For me, it is forward ever, backward never!”

Sanogo, a native of Mali, reiterated Maharini’s sentiments, adding: “What we have is faith built on persecution. Everything I experienced while in captivity is what priesthood entails. Jesus himself tells us that he is sending us out like sheep among wolves. We leave our homes not knowing what will happen to our lives.”

“What we went through is nothing compared to the passion of Jesus. I found great joy uniting my pain with the passion of Jesus,” the priest said.

Sanogo and Maharini remember being taken away at about 11 p.m. on the day of captivity by a gang of 12 men who broke into their community in Gyadna village in Nigeria’s Niger State.

“There were five of us in the house and we were just going to bed. The incident happened very fast. First, we heard gunshots and in a matter of minutes, the men had already broken into the house. Three of our brothers managed to escape and the two of us were taken,” Maharini recalled. “We were taken away barefoot and in our sleepwear. We didn’t have any other clothes for the whole time we stayed in captivity.”

The two remember walking for more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) and finding themselves in the middle of a thick forest the following day at 6 a.m.

In the forest were seven other people who had been taken captive, Sanogo said. “We never interacted with the other captives as they were released much sooner.”

“The men wanted money from us. We kept saying that we didn’t have any money. That infuriated them and they constantly beat us. We were in a very big forest and there were no villages nearby. They would give us something to eat and we slept on rocks and on the grass in the open,” said Sanogo, who has been in Nigeria for only a year and a half.

“We were their slaves,” Maharini added, “and having no freedom, not having the slightest idea of what they would do to us was troubling at first. We were very happy when one day they told us, ‘You are free. You may go back home.’”

Back at the community, the two found a festive mood. News had been spread across the congregation and to their families that their sons were alive and had regained freedom.

When Sanogo and Maharini spoke to ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa, on Sept. 1, they were preparing to travel to their respective countries to spend some days with their families.

The two expressed gratitude to their congregation for working tirelessly to secure their release and the people of God who prayed for them while in captivity.

They said that they had forgiven their abductors and were praying for their conversion.

“I started praying for the men who abducted us on the day they took us. I kept praying for their conversion so that they may one day realize that what they are doing is not right. I also forgave them a long time ago,” Maharini said.

This story was first published by ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa, and has been adapted by CNA.

Bishop Strickland: ‘no communication from Rome’ following apostolic visitation

Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas. / null

CNA Staff, Sep 22, 2023 / 12:25 pm (CNA).

Following a report that Pope Francis and Vatican officials held a meeting earlier this month to discuss requesting the resignation of Tyler, Texas, Bishop Joseph Strickland, the prelate said on Wednesday he has not been contacted by the Vatican about such matters.

In addition, Strickland said if Pope Francis were to remove him from office he would respect the Holy Father’s authority but would not resign if asked. 

“Last week an article was published on a website called ‘The Pillar,’ and the article alleged that a meeting was held with Pope Francis where some of the members of the Congregation for Bishops recommended that I be encouraged to resign as bishop of Tyler,” Strickland said in a Sept. 20 letter to his diocese.

“Let me be clear that I have received no communication from Rome regarding this. At this point it is simply an article discussing supposed leaked information from the Vatican,” he added.

“I have said publicly that I cannot resign as bishop of Tyler because that would be me abandoning the flock that I was given charge of by Pope Benedict XVI,” he said. 

“I have also said that I will respect the authority of Pope Francis if he removes me from office as bishop of Tyler,” he added.

The reported meeting follows a Vatican-directed investigation into Strickland in June called an apostolic visitation, which, according to a source, addressed the firebrand bishop’s social media use but also questions related to diocesan management.

Strickland, 64, who has served as bishop of the Diocese of Tyler since 2012, has been outspoken on certain Catholic social issues such as abortion and gender ideology. 

He has also been critical of Pope Francis, saying in a May Tweet that he rejects “his program of undermining the Deposit of Faith.”

Strickland’s statement on Wednesday marks his first public response following a Sept. 11 article by The Pillar, which, citing anonymous sources, reported that Pope Francis was to be presented with the findings of the apostolic visitation and would be encouraged to request the Tyler bishop’s resignation.

Strickland said he has not been contacted by any Church official since the apostolic visitation. He added that he wasn’t given a reason for why the visitation occurred and hasn’t received a report from the investigation. 

Strickland said he is grateful for the support and prayers that many have expressed.

“I continue to love serving as your shepherd and thankfully during all of this I have been able to visit many of your parishes and celebrate our Catholic faith with you,” he said. 

Strickland said he is “blessed” in his prayer life and feels “very close” to Christ, and supported by the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints.

“I am at peace with whatever the Lord’s call for me is; let us continue to pray for Pope Francis, the Church, and the Diocese of Tyler that we call home,” he said. 

In a July podcast, Strickland said that the apostolic visitation was “not fun” and added that the Vatican’s delegates were “looking at everything.”

The bishop compared it to “being called to the principal’s office.”

“It’s not something that I would volunteer for, to go through an apostolic visitation,” he said. “It kind of puts a shadow over the diocese.”

“There have been some administrative issues, and I’m sure people are concerned,” he said. “I’m sure there are people saying that there must be something really bad, and something’s really gone wrong for this apostolic visitation [to happen].”

“I’ve got nothing to hide,” he said in an excerpt of the podcast posted to YouTube.

Crediting God and the Catholic faithful, Strickland said the diocese is in good financial condition.

He said he thinks he was subject to the visitation “because I’ve been bold enough and loved the Lord enough and his Church, simply preaching the truth.”

UN adopts resolution to protect ‘reproductive rights’ during next pandemic

The United Nations General Assembly in New York. / Credit: Drop of Light/Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 22, 2023 / 10:30 am (CNA).

Global leaders adopted a United Nations resolution this week that urged member states to take certain actions when preparing for and responding to a pandemic — one of those actions appears to ask governments to secure access to abortion. 

The resolution’s language states that the focus is “pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response” and asks states to commit to actions that are “driven by equity and the respect for human rights.” The section focused on equality includes a commitment by states to protecting “reproductive rights.”

“[We] call upon member states to take all measures necessary to ensure the right of women and girls to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, including sexual and reproductive health, and reproductive rights,” operative paragraph 10 of the global “call to action” reads in part.

United Nations General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding and member states have wide discretion in how they interpret the text. However, some pro-life lawmakers are concerned about the language. 

“I think we are in a moment where people have to draw a line in the sand of what they will and will not tolerate,” Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Florida, told EWTN News Nightly.”

“And, for the pro-life community, they are now seeing that the work isn’t just here at home, it’s not just in our state capitols, it’s not just here on Capitol Hill,” Cammack said. “It’s a global fight that we have to undertake as well.”

The reproductive rights language was supported and endorsed by President Joe Biden’s administration earlier this year. In February, United States U.N. Ambassador Pamela K. Hamamoto specifically requested that the language be included. 

“Our work must be inclusive and applicable for the improved health and well-being of all people,” Hamamoto said in her statement to the U.N. regarding the pandemic resolution. 

“A commitment to ‘equity’ must address inequities not only between countries but also within them,” Hamamoto continued. “Not just protecting populations from pandemics — but also from illness, death, and disrupted access to essential health care services during pandemics, including sexual and reproductive health services.”

Stefano Gennarini, the vice president for legal studies at the Center for Family and Human Rights, told “EWTN News Nightly” that pressure from the Biden administration indicates that this section of the resolution is about global abortion access. 

“We know, given the Biden administration’s support for abortion, we know this to mean an attempt essentially to create an international right to abortion,” Gennarini said.

World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued a statement praising the resolution. His statement referenced the WHO’s support for equity in health care but did not reference the statement on reproductive rights. 

“I welcome this commitment by world leaders to provide the political support and direction needed so that WHO, governments, and all involved can protect people’s health and take concrete steps towards investing in local capacities, ensuring equity and supporting the global emergency health architecture that the world needs,” Ghebreyesus said.

The WHO is working with U.N. member states to amend international health regulations that focus on issues that arose during the pandemic.

Oldest monastery in the West was built on the spot of St. Maurice’s martyrdom

Aerial view of Saint-Maurice Abbey in the Valais region of Switzerland, Sept. 20, 2023. / Credit: Cyril Néri

Paris, France, Sep 22, 2023 / 04:25 am (CNA).

With over 1,500 years of history, the Abbey of Saint-Maurice in the Valais region of Switzerland is the oldest monastery in the West to have remained in continuous operation since its foundation in 515. The building stands on the site of St. Maurice’s martyrdom, celebrated on Sept. 22.

Chronicles tell us little about St. Maurice and his companions, who were killed around 300 A.D. “We know that they died here, that according to tradition they were members of the Legion of Thebes, i.e. from Africa, and that they were martyred for their refusal to obey the emperor’s impious orders,” archivist and librarian Canon Olivier Roduit explained to CNA.

A text dated back to year 430, La Passion des Martyrs d’Agaune (The Passion of the Martyrs of Agaune), written by Bishop Eucher of Lyon, had a major influence, helping to spread the cult of these martyrs throughout Europe and the rest of the world. Numerous villages in Switzerland, France, and Italy bear the name of St. Maurice, and there are more than 1,000 places dedicated to the saint worldwide.

Around the year 380, Theodule, the first known bishop of the Valais region, found the relics of the martyrs under the cliff and built the first church in their honor, as stated on the website. King Sigismund then founded the abbey in 515, instituting perpetual prayer on the site.

“Saint-Maurice is above all a place of passage,” Roduit explained. “It is located on an important international route, the Via Francigena, which runs from Canterbury to Rome.” The abbey’s influence was particularly strong in the 12th and 13th centuries. Kings and princes offered gifts, which today constitute a precious “treasure” jealously guarded by the canons.

In 1262, King St. Louis IX presented the abbey with a thorn from the crown of Christ. “The king wanted to spread the ideal of the military saint in his kingdom,” Roduit said. “The abbey gave him relics of St. Maurice and in exchange, the king offered a small thorn from the crown of Christ.” 

Despite the French Revolution, fires, and falling rocks, the abbey was rebuilt but never interrupted. Since 1128, the abbey has been run by canons who follow the Rule of St. Augustine. “Our main mission is to worship the Lord at the tomb of the martyrs, faithfully since the beginning of time,” the archivist insisted.

One kilometer from the abbey is the Martyrdom Chapel. Built in the 18th century and renovated in the 20th, it stands on the exact site of the martyrdom. Its blood-red altar bears an inscription taken from the Passion of the Agaune Martyrs by Eucher: “We are your soldiers, O Emperor, but above all servants of God. We owe you military obedience, we owe him innocence.” According to the story, Maurice added: “We’d rather die innocent than live guilty.”

New Martyrdom Chapel, Saint-Maurice Abbey. Credit: Jean-Yves Glassey and Michel Martinez
New Martyrdom Chapel, Saint-Maurice Abbey. Credit: Jean-Yves Glassey and Michel Martinez

Canons’ missions

Today, there are 27 canons in the entire congregation, 22 of whom live at Saint-Maurice, hailing from several places: Valais, German-speaking Swiss, France, and Bavaria. The young people in formation are of Sicilian, Beninese, Togolese, Burkinabe, and Kazak origin.

The canons have three main ministries, beginning with education. They teach at the Lycée-Collège de l’Abbaye de Saint-Maurice, an institution of 1,200 students founded in 1806 under an agreement with the State of Valais.

They also minister in neighboring parishes, and — especially in the last century, given the dwindling resources nowadays — carry out missionary work, notably in India, Peru, Kazakhstan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Until the end of the 20th century, they carried out the famous Sikkim mission, in the Darjeeling Diocese in northeast India between Nepal and Bhutan.

New treasure room at Saint-Maurice Abbey in the Valais region of Switzerland, Sept. 20, 2023. Credit: Jean-Yves Glassey and Michel Martinez
New treasure room at Saint-Maurice Abbey in the Valais region of Switzerland, Sept. 20, 2023. Credit: Jean-Yves Glassey and Michel Martinez

The abbey’s influence

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, some 100,000 people visited the abbey every year. And approximately 15,000 visitors came to see the Treasure Museum. The abbey’s international reputation continues to grow, as the audio guides are now being translated into Ukrainian and Russian.

The Saint-Maurice Archives house an extensive medieval collection, with the first document dating back to 984. Their holdings have been fully digitized and made available to researchers on the Internet.

The canons also run a project to develop an organ culture in French-speaking Switzerland, with an organ school, a music season, and an international organ competition. Saint-Maurice is also home to Switzerland’s largest carillon (a bronze set of bells played with a keyboard), which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2024.

The canons run a brewery — the Abbey of Saint-Maurice Beer — and maintain a 6-hectare vineyard, with which they will soon inaugurate Cuvée de Noé, a sweet dessert wine.

Every Sept. 22, the feast of St. Maurice is a highlight in the region. The canons organize a procession with the saint’s relics through the streets of the town and a three-day Monastic Market, attended by some 30 religious communities from France, Switzerland, and Italy.

The abbey is currently under the authority of Prior Roland Jacquenoud, since the Father Abbot of Saint-Maurice, Monsignor Jean Scarcella, elected in 2015, has stepped down pending the completion of an investigation requested by Rome following allegations of sexual abuse and cover-up aimed at various members of the Swiss Bishops’ Conference.

Argentine bishops’ commission opposes government’s technical assistance to sex workers

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ACI Prensa Staff, Sep 21, 2023 / 18:50 pm (CNA).

In a Sept. 20 post on X, the National Justice and Peace Commission of the Argentine Bishops’ Conference requested that the agreement made between a government agency and an association of “sex workers” be rescinded, warning that it “fails to comply with the abolitionist legal framework of the Argentine state.”

The term “abolitionist” here means the state is committed to abolishing prostitution. Argentina has passed laws against prostitution and human trafficking in 1913, 1936, 2008, and 2012.

The agreement for technical assistance was made between the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET) — which operates under the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation — and the Network of Sex Workers of Latin America (RedTraSex).

The commission recalled the words of Pope Francis in the prologue to the book “Crucified Women: The shame of trafficking told from the street” by Father Aldo Buonaiuto: “Any form of prostitution is a reduction to slavery, a criminal act, a repugnant vice that confuses making love with venting one’s instincts by torturing a defenseless woman.”

The commission stressed that “all organizations and entities of the Argentine state must respect the abolitionist principle of prostitution to which our country adheres” and pointed out that the law states that “any form of prostitution is a reduction to slavery.”

This legal framework, explained the bishops’ commission, is mandatory for all agencies of the Argentine state.

This framework includes Law 26.842, the U.N. Convention for the Suppression of Human Trafficking and the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, and Article 6 of the U.N. Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. 

According to Art. 75 Sec. 22 of the Argentine Constitution, international treaties signed by the state have the force of constitutional law.

Furthermore, the commission noted that according to the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation “the Argentine state has assumed the national and international commitment to take all appropriate measures to suppress all forms of trafficking in women and exploitation of prostitution of women.” 

Consequently, the Justice and Peace Commission called on CONICET to “rescind said agreement.”

The signing of the agreement took place Wednesday morning at the Workers’ Innovation Center (CITRA). Researcher Cora Arias explained that this agreement is the formalization of a process that began in 2021.

At that time, CONICET linked up with RedTraSex to provide research experience and study methodologies, and thus develop studies to respond to the worries and concerns that the association had about the working conditions of “sex workers.”

As a result of this process, Wednesday morning a regional report carried out this year on working conditions and human rights violations of sex workers in Latin America and the Caribbean was presented.

What is a technical assistance agreement?

A technical assistance agreement is a connection that, through a research group, CONICET carries out with a company or public agency. The purpose is to provide technical collaboration in some area it specializes in.

Technical assistance consists of the provision of knowledge, which is generally in the public domain, but highly specialized.

In this case, the agreement with RedTraSex is made through CITRA, an entity under CONICET and the Metropolitan University for Education and Work (UMET).

According to CITRA’s website, this consists of a research, innovation, and development center associated with trade unions to produce scientific and technical capabilities, with the perspective and participation of workers.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.