Three Nigerian Catholic Bishops are on the list of 364 full delegates to the forthcoming 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (Synod on Synodality Assembly) scheduled for next October in Rome.
They are Bishop Donatus Aihmiosion Ogun of Uromi Diocese, Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Abuja and Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji of Owerri, who is the current President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN.
Two other Nigerians are listed to attend, representing the Continental Assemblies or as members not vested with the Episcopal Munus, as witnesses of the Synodal process. They are Rev. Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Emmanuel Orobator, President of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar, who was previously Provincial Superior of the Jesuits Eastern Africa Province, which includes Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan and Rev. Fr. Vitalis Chinedu Anaehobi, Secretary-General of the Regional Bishops Conference of West Africa, RECOWA.
The five join the list of bishops, priests, religious and for the first time, lay people who will not only participate, but as full members, will have the capacity to vote on a final document at the end of the process in October 2024.
The Vatican published the full list of participants yesterday, Friday 7th July 2023 and they include over 50 women. 120 of the delegates were selected by Pope Francis himself, who will preside over the Synod with Cardinal Mario Grech as Secretary General and Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg as General Rapporteur.
The Assembly is the first part of the Synod and will take place from October 4 to 29 at the Vatican and the delegates will discuss various issues thrown up by Synodal Assemblies in the Catholic Church in Nigeria and other countries between 2021 and 2022.
In a change from previous synods, Pope Francis has broken the general assembly into two sessions – this October session will be followed by the second in October 2024.
The Catholic Church’s Synod on Synodality has been underway since October 2021 all over the world. At the end of the process in 2024, Synod assembly participants are expected to vote on an advisory final document that will be presented to the Pope, who can decide to adopt the text as a papal document.
There are participants on the list referred to as Delegate Presidents and they include Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts and Head of the Synod of the Coptic Catholic Church (Egypt) and Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes, Archbishop of México.
Apart from the Coptic Catholic Church, the Eastern Catholic Churches are also well represented, and they include Youssef Absi, Patriarch of Antioch of the Greek-Melkites, Head of the Synod of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church; Ignace Youssef III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, Head of the Synod of the Syriac Catholic Church; Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Head of the Synod of the Maronite Church and Bishop Mounir Khairallah of Batroun of the Maronites.
Others invited are Cardinal Louis Raphaël Sako, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Head of the Synod of the Chaldean Church; Raphaël Bedros XXI Minassian, Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, Head of the Synod of the Armenian Catholic Church; Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halyc, Kyiv, Head of the Synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church; Bishop Teodor Martynyuk, Titular of Mopta, Auxiliary Bishop of Ternopil-Zboriv; Bishop Bohdan Dzyurakh, 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; Archbishop Andrews Thazhath, Metropolitan of Trichur, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India; Archbishop Joseph Pamplany of Tellicherry; Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, Major Archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankars, Head of the Synod of the Syro-Malankara Church; Bishop Cristian Dumitru Crişan, titular of Abula, Auxiliary Bishop of Făgăraș și Alba Iulia of the Romanians; Cardinal Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, Metropolitan Archbishop of Addis Abeba, president of the Episcopal Conference, president of the Council of the Ethiopian Church, Archbishop William Charles Skurla, Metropolitan of Pittsburgh of the Byzantines, President of the Council of the Ruthenian Church; Bishop Milan Lach, S.J., Auxiliary of Bratislava, Titular Bishop of Ostracine; Archbishop Menghesteab Tesfamariam, Metropolitan of Asmara, President of the Council of the Eritrean Church; Archbishop Fülöp Kocsis, Metropolitan of Hajdúdorog for Catholics of Byzantine rite, President of the Council of the Hungarian Church.
Together with delegates on Pontifical appointment, those on the list represent the Episcopal Conferences from all continents, the Union of Superiors General and the International Union of Superiors General, Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, Continental Assemblies, members not vested with the Episcopal Munus, witnesses of the Synodal process from all continents.
There are also special invitees, spiritual assistants, experts and facilitators.
IMAGE CREDIT: Vatican.va, synod.va