Australian couple Dr Ron and Mavis Pirola are among 14 married couples who have been chosen from around the world to attend October's Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, reports the Catholic News Service.
Dr and Mrs Pirola, chairs of the Australian bishops' Catholic Marriage and Family Council, will be joined by Christopher Meney, director of the Life, Marriage and Family Centre with the Archdiocese of Sydney, and Joan Clements, co-director of the World Organisation of Ovulation Method Billings in Australia.
They are among more than 250 participants, including 114 presidents of national bishops' conferences, 13 heads of Eastern Catholic churches and 25 heads of Vatican congregations and councils. The Pope also appointed 26 Synod fathers to take part in the October 5-19 event.
A list of the appointments was released yesterday by the Vatican. Almost all of the 26 Papally appointed voting members are from Europe. Of these, none of the 14 cardinals, eight bishops, and four priests appointed by the Pope is from North America or other English-speaking countries.
Some of the Papal appointees include German Cardinal Walter Kasper, Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, and Italian Cardinal Elio Sgreccia, as well as Jesuit Fr Antonio Spadaro, director of La Civilta Cattolica journal, and Msgr Pio Pinto, dean of the Roman Rota, a Vatican-based tribunal that deals mainly with marriage cases.
However, among the non-voting members of 38 observers and 16 experts appointed by the Pope, the majority are laymen and laywomen, including 14 married couples, and they are more geographically diverse, with several coming from Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas, as well as Europe.
Voting Synod members include officials from the Roman Curia, heads of the Eastern churches, and archbishops of churches sui iuris, including Byzantine Archbishop William C. Skurla of Pittsburgh.
Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and US Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, the Vatican's highest court, were to attend as officials of the Roman Curia.