The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has elected its delegation for next year’s Synod on the Family during their annual meeting in Baltimore last week.
The Church in the US will be represented by: Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, president of the USCCB; Daniel Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the vice president of the USCCB; Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, who will host the 2015 World Meeting of Families; and Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, the highest-ranking Hispanic bishop in the country and the leader of the US’s largest Catholic diocese.
The Conference also elected two alternatives, Archbishop Blase Cupich, who was installed as Archbishop of Chicago yesterday, and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, who heads the US Bishops’ Defense and Promotion of Marriage Subcommittee.
The names of the chosen delegates will be sent to the Vatican for final approval. The finalized list will participate in the Synod of the Family that will be held next October in Rome. The Synod is the follow-up of the one that just concluded this October and will be responsible for producing the final and authoritative document regarding the Church’s stance on issues of marriage and the family. Pope Francis has requested bishops to discuss the themes of the Synod before reconvening at the Vatican in 2015.
In addition to the four delegates, Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York and Archbishop Donald Cardinal Wuerl of Washington serve on the body that will plan the Synod and will likely also be in attendance next October.
The summary of the debate at the recent session of the Synod on the Family made for a small earthquake within the Church, when the unofficial English translation of the document seemed to be at odds with some elements of Church teaching. This gave rise to speculations in both liberal and conservative circuits, ultimately to be quelled by sources pointing to the discrepancies in translation between the official Italian document and the various translations which the Vatican had intended to be merely a guide to the media but which were mistakenly taken as the final word on the matter. The 2015 session will give the members a chance to express their views on the points mentioned in the summary document and any relevant discussions that the delegates may have with their brother-bishops or members of the flock and will ultimately decide the group in charge of drafting the final document, the Church’s authoritative word on the matter.
Especially notable among the group of delegates is Archbishop Chaput, who will be hosting the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next September. The event is expected to host about one million participants from all around the world and will likely bring Pope Francis to the US. The World Meeting of Families is an event held every three years and sponsored by the Holy See’s Pontifical Council for the Family. The theme for the Philadelphia gathering in 2015 is “Love is our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.” The message of the Meeting will likely be something the USCCB is expecting Archbishop Chaput to bring to the Synod.