VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul II has assigned Cardinal Edward Egan of New York a key role in a meeting of Roman Catholic bishops from throughout the world to be held in the Vatican in October.

The Vatican announced March 15 that Cardinal Egan will serve as general relator (reporter) at the Sept. 30 to Oct. 27 meeting of the Synod of Bishops. The task of the relator is to announce the topics for discussion at the beginning of the synod and to summarize the expositions and proposals stemming from the addresses given at the synod's general assembly.

The Pope, as president of the synod, delegated Cardinals Giovanna Battista Re, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops, Bernard Agre, archbishop of Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, and Ivan Dias, archbishop of Bombay, to preside over the sessions in his place and named Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Oria, Italy, as special secretary.

The U.S. church will be represented at the synod by four elected delegates in addition to Cardinal Egan. They are Bishops Joseph Fiorenza, president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Wilton Gregory, vice president, and Cardinals William Keeler of Baltimore and Francis George of Chicago.

The theme of the assembly will be “The Bishop: Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World.”

The Synod of Bishops is an outgrowth of the Second Vatican Council, established by Pope Paul VI in 1965 to strengthen papal ties with the bishops, exchange information on key issues facing the Church and promote agreement on doctrine and procedure within the Church.

The Pope also has called a consis-tory (meeting) of all 183 cardinals in the Vatican May 21-24 to consider the course of the Church in the new millennium.