Archbishop Chaput Named as One of New Members on Synod Council

The Philadelphia archbishop will have a three-year term to help prepare for the next ordinary synod in 2018.

Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia in Rome
Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia in Rome (photo: Joaquin Piero Perez/CNA)

VATICAN CITY — On Saturday, the names of the 15 cardinals and bishops chosen to prepare for the next synod were announced by the Vatican — one of them being Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia.

The names of the new members of the synod council were announced in a Nov. 14 communiqué from the Vatican.

The Council for the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops is charged with preparing for the ordinary synod, which takes place every three years to discuss a specific theme of importance in the Church.

Serving as an advisory body to the Pope, the Synod of Bishops was established by Pope Paul VI in 1965 by the motu proprio Apostolica Sollicitudo to “strengthen [the Pope's] union” with other bishops and to “establish even closer ties” with them.

It consists of a group of bishops from around the world, who meet every three years “to foster closer unity between the Roman pontiff and bishops, to assist the Roman pontiff with their counsel … and to consider questions pertaining to the activity of the Church in the world,” according to canon law.

Ahead of each gathering, a theme is selected by the Pope, and the council prepares for the synod according to the topic chosen. The Pope can also call an extraordinary synod if he feels that the theme needs further discussion, as was the case with the 2014 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family.

The synod council is composed of a permanent secretary general (Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri) and undersecretary (Bishop Fabio Fabene), as well as 15 members, three from each continent, with Asia and Oceania (Australia and surrounding island nations) counted as one — and three appointed by the Pope.

Of the 15 members, 12 are nominated by the cardinals and bishops at the end of the ordinary synod meeting and serve a three-year term. Once their term finishes, with the close of the ordinary synod, a new council is elected to prepare for the next one.

In addition to Archbishop Chaput, other members elected to prepare for the 2018 synod are: Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, archbishop of Durban; Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation of Bishops; Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa; Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, archbishop of Vienna; Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay; Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila; Cardinal George Pell, prefect for the Secretariat of the Economy; Cardinal Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster; Archbishop Mathieu Madega Lebouakehan of Mouila, Gabon; and Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto.

The three members appointed by Pope Francis himself are: Archbishop Louis Raphael Sako, Chaldean patriarch of Babylon; Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra of Madrid; and Archbishop Sergio Da Rocha, archbishop of Brazil and president of the Brazilian Episcopal Conference.