America Magazine is reporting on the newly released list of names of attendees at the Synod, which include cardinals, bishops, priests, men and women religious and more than a dozen married couples.
In total, 253 people will participate in this meeting, which is considered an Extraordinary General Assembly and only the third one of its kind to be held in the wake of the Second Vatican Council.
American attendees include Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Cardinals Donald Wuerl and Timothy Dolan. Jeffrey Heinzen, Director of the Natural Family Planning in the diocese of La Crosse, and his wife, Alice, who is a member of the Natural Family Planning Advisory Board of the USCCB, will also attend, as will Steve and Claudia Schultz of International Catholic Engaged Encounter.
There will be sixteen experts present, along with 38 men and women auditors.
A total of 25 women will be present.
Eight “fraternal delegates” from other Christian denominations will also attend and will be representing the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Patriarchate of Moscow, the Orthodox Coptic Church, the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, the Anglican Communion, the World Lutheran Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the World Baptist Alliance.
Pope Francis will serve as the synod's president and has personally appointed 26 persons to this synod including four of the most distinguished theologians in the world: Cardinals Walter Kasper (Germany), Angelo Scola (Italy), Godfried Daneels (Belgium) and Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez (President of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina).
In addition, he has appointed three prelates to serve as his assistants during the synod - Cardinals Andre Vingt-Trois (France), Luis Antonio Tagle (the Philippines) and Raymundo Damasceno Assis (Brazil).
The secretary-general of the Synod, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri (Italy), will also be present.
The Roman Curia will also be represented by 25 heads of the various departments. Three representatives of the Union of Superiors General will attend - Fr. Adolfo Nicolas Pachon, Father General of the Jesuits; Fr. Mauro Johri, Minister General of the Franciscan Order of Capuchin Friars Minor; and Fr Mario Aldegani, Superior General of the Congregation of St Joseph.
"The Hungarian cardinal Peter Erdo has been assigned the important role of Relator (Rapporteur) to the synod," the magazine reports. "He will give the keynote address at the beginning, at the midway stage and at the end. He is assisted by the Italian theologian Archbishop Bruno Forte, who has the key role of Secretary, and by Mgr. Fabio Fabene (Italy)."
Of the synod's 253 participants, 192 are considered "synod fathers" with most of that number comprised of bishops. These will be the only members authorized to vote at the synod.
At the end of the synod, a message will be issued by two attendees - Gianfranco Ravasi (President of the Pontifical Council for Culture) and Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez (Argentina).
The synod is just one part of what will be a long process of study on the present pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization. The process began with a worldwide consultation in diocese and parishes in 2013, and was followed by a "major sounding" at the Consistory of Cardinals earlier this year.
After the synod, dioceses and parishes will again meet to discuss feedback from next month's synod. This process will conclude in an ordinary Synod of Bishops which is scheduled for October of 2015. The pope is expected to publish an Apostolic Exhortation on the subject sometime after this, probably in 2016.
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