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Firefighters quell blaze at French cathedral

Smoke billows from the spire of Rouen Cathedral in Rouen, northern France, on July 11, 2024. / Credit: PATRICK STREIFF/AFP via Getty Images

CNA Newsroom, Jul 11, 2024 / 10:10 am (CNA).

Firefighters extinguished a fire that broke out on Thursday on the spire of Rouen Cathedral, a historic Gothic church in northern France.

Rouen Mayor Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol confirmed the incident on social media, sharing an image showing smoke rising from the cathedral’s spire.

According to LeMonde newspaper, 63 firefighters and 33 fire engines participated in the operation. Authorities announced they had “brought the fire under control” in just under two hours after an alert was issued at noon local time.

The cathedral was evacuated and a security perimeter established, local media reported July 11.

Citing information by the French Ministry of Culture, the newspaper Le Figaro said the fire was caused by “mishandling by workers."

The part of the spire where the fire broke out was located about 120 meters (about 400 feet) above the ground and is currently undergoing renovation.

The incident recalled the devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. That blaze caused significant damage to the iconic structure, destroying its spire and much of its roof.

Rouen Cathedral, known for its tall spire and Gothic architecture, has historical and artistic significance. The structure in historic Normandy was famously depicted in a series of paintings by French impressionist Claude Monet in the late 19th century.

The fire in Rouen also occurs against a backdrop of concerns about the Catholic heritage of France. 

In 2021, Edouard de Lamaze, president of the Observatory of Religious Heritage in Paris, told CNA that one religious building is lost in France every two weeks due to various factors, including demolition, repurposing, or destruction.

‘The Bible in 10 Minutes’ becomes Father Mike Schmitz’s most viral video in first 24 hours

Father Mike Schmitz is the host of "The Bible in a Year" podcast produced by Ascension. / Credit: Photo courtesy of Ascension

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 11, 2024 / 09:33 am (CNA).

Father Mike Schmitz’s The Bible in 10 Minutes” has become the popular Catholic priest’s most viral video yet, garnering over 358,000 views in its first 24 hours. Released on July 9, the video was produced by Ascension and Coronation Media.

“The Bible is amazing, but sometimes confusing and hard to read,” Schmitz begins in the video. “This is because it’s not just one book, but a collection of books written over thousands of years in lots of different styles, all inspired by God and assembled by the Catholic Church into the Bible.”

While acknowledging the difficulties that some may face in attempting to read the Bible, Schmitz speaks of the “narrative throughout the Bible that tells a single story: the story of God’s plan for our salvation.”

“Once we understand that story, we can understand the context of every book of the Bible,” he continues. “So, here’s the story in less than 10 minutes.”

Beginning with the creation of Adam and Eve, Schmitz outlines the Bible’s story of salvation alongside vivid, colorful animations. The video also brings attention to Moses’ flight out of Egypt, David’s rule over Israel, and the passion of Jesus Christ among other key moments.

According to Ascension Press, “The Bible in 10 Minutes” more than doubles Schmitz’s previous record of 160,000 views in one day with his 2023 video review of the film “Sound of Freedom.” As of July 11, two days later, the video has amassed over 598,000 views and 11,000 likes.

Schmitz serves as the chaplain of the University of Minnesota-Duluth as well as the director of the office of youth ministry for the Diocese of Duluth. He first began hosting the “Ascension Presents” YouTube series in 2015 and has since grown in popularity among Catholic audiences for his various podcasts, books, and talks.

His “The Bible in a Year” podcast has especially received much acclaim and attention, drawing a total of 660 million downloads as of 2023. Consisting of 365 episodes, the podcast features commentary, prayer, and reflections as Schmitz walks the listener through the entirety of the Bible. 

“God wants to illuminate your life with this story and lead you to a relationship with him page by page,” he says in the video. 

Beginning Jan. 15, EWTN Radio began airing Schmitz’s “Bible in a Year” and “Catechism in a Year” podcasts. 

Italy’s prime minister proposes aid for women in financial straits who reject abortion

Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni speaks during a conference on “The General State of the Birth Rate” in Rome on May 12, 2023. / Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA

ACI Prensa Staff, Jul 11, 2024 / 08:00 am (CNA).

The government of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who is also president of the Council of Ministers of Italy, has proposed a “maternity income” bill to provide financial assistance to pregnant women in need who reject abortion.

This initiative, promoted by Sen. Maurizio Gasparri of the Forza Italia political party, offers aid of 1,000 euros (about $1,082) for five years to Italian women who decide to continue with their pregnancy despite their financial difficulties.

The bill aims to reduce abortions motivated by the financial hardships of pregnant mothers, based on Article 5 of Italy’s Law 194.

Gasparri said this is “not only moral but also financial” support for women who decide not to end the life of their children in the womb. “Let’s defend life!” he wrote on X when announcing the measure.

The proposal — scheduled to be introduced next week — provides for an increase of 50 euros ($54) per month starting with the second child and 100 euros ($108) up to the age of 18 in the event that the child has a disability.

To finance it, a maternity income fund would be created with 600 million euros ($649 million) annually starting this year, and mothers who wish to apply for it must have an Indicator of Equivalent Economic Situation (ISEE) of less than 15,000 euros ($16,230) and be Italian citizens residing in the country.

In April, Meloni approved a package of measures to curb abortion in the country.

Among the measures, the Italian Parliament allowed volunteers from pro-life associations access to abortion centers to guarantee assistance to mothers who wish to abort their unborn children.

Abortion was legalized in Italy in 1978, under Law 194, which Meloni has pledged not to change, although she stated that her pro-life measures aim to “guarantee women the possibility of choosing an alternative, offering an active role by public institutions in order to remove the financial causes that can push a woman to abort.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

‘Worst platform I’ve ever seen’: Conservatives slam Republicans for softening pro-life stance

“Beyond Dobbs” panelists at the 2024 National Conservatism Conference on July 10, 2024, in Washington, D.C., included, left to right: Emma Waters, senior research associate at The Heritage Foundation; Mary Margaret Olohan, author and journalist at The Daily Signal; Tom McClusky, conservative policy strategist; Chad Pecknold, professor of systematic theology at The Catholic University of America; and Katy Talento, CEO of AllBetter Health. / Credit: Peter Pinedo/CNA

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 11, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

Top conservatives at a “Beyond Dobbs” panel discussion at the 2024 National Conservatism Conference expressed anger over the Republican Party’s softening of its pro-life stance ahead of this November’s election, with one calling the GOP’s new platform the “worst platform I’ve ever seen.”

Organized Wednesday in Washington, D.C., by the Edmund Burke Foundation in partnership with over a dozen other major U.S. conservative think tanks, the conference’s panel on the subject focused on the political landscape in the post-Roe v. Wade era.

Several panelists, including a former Trump administration official, severely criticized the 2024 GOP platform, which was approved by the Republican National Convention’s platform committee on Monday.

What’s going on with Republicans and abortion?

Since Roe’s overturn in 2022 the pro-life movement has struggled to achieve any significant policy wins at the polls, leading some Republicans to believe abortion is a losing issue.

This belief appeared to be reflected in the GOP’s new platform, which removed a long-standing “right to life” plank and any call for a national law protecting unborn life.

Tom McClusky, a veteran operative in the pro-life movement, led the charge in slamming Republicans for backing away from the life issue.

“The RNC platform, I’m sorry, it is the worst platform I’ve ever seen,” McClusky said. “The platform, to me, has always been a promissory note. This is what the Republican Party stands for, this is the ideals that we strive for, and we’ve lost that now.”

He pointed to the Biden administration’s actions to promote abortion, saying it has “proven” that abortion cannot “just go back to the states.”

“Look at everything that he [Biden] has done,” he said. “They’ve turned our veterans’ hospitals into abortuaries. They’ve turned our military into abortion travel services. They’ve taken the Department of Justice and gone after people who stand up for life.”

“That is not something the states can stop,” he added. “That is only something the federal government can do.”

‘Quietly transforming every agency into Planned Parenthood’

Katy Talento, another panelist and former Trump administration Domestic Policy Council adviser, also criticized Republicans for backing away from the national abortion debate.

According to Talento, the Biden administration has been “quietly transforming every [government] agency into Planned Parenthood.”

Leaving the status quo regarding abortion, Talento claimed, would greatly advantage the abortion industry and result in more deaths of not only unborn babies but also pregnant women.

“I would strongly urge any hand-wringing politician worried about suburban women to read the FDA label before advocating for [abortion] pill-pushing on demand. The next woman bleeding out in the fetal position could be their daughter or their granddaughter,” Talento warned.

“It appears that there is little courage or appetite among our national leaders to try to protect unborn Americans with new federal laws,” she added. However, she emphasized, “there are too many radical policies implemented by Team Biden throughout many agencies to let any new president or cabinet secretary off the hook.”

Promoting marriage and families

Various panelists also suggested strategies to push back against abortion and reverse the ongoing decline in births.

Emma Waters, a senior research associate at The Heritage Foundation, said promoting a culture conducive to life involves all aspects of society, government, and religion.

Government policy, Waters said, must include not only on materially supporting mothers but also on promoting stable marriages and families.

“All policy must be pro-family policy,” she said. “We don’t need a separate policy group focused on family policy, we need those who are working in foreign policy, those who are in education, those who are in welfare and beyond, asking themselves, ‘Does this policy that I’m putting forward help support and encourage the family?’”

“To solve the fertility crisis,” she continued, “we can’t simply focus on creating more children. We must focus on creating more healthy marriages between married men and women. That’s where we’re going to find our solution.”

As marriage rates continue to plunge, how can the Church get more people to the altar?

null / Credit: Ivan Galashchuk/Shutterstock

CNA Staff, Jul 11, 2024 / 06:00 am (CNA).

The Catholic Church needs to be focused at the parish level to drive up plunging marriage rates among the faithful, experts say, as low marriage rates in the Church mirror the collapse of matrimony in wider society. 

Catholic marriage rates dropped by about 70% between 1969 and 2019, according to data from Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate

The collapse reflects the broader decline of marriage rates throughout the United States, with a record 25% of 40-year-olds in the U.S. currently having never been married, according to Pew Research data

Experts and marriage advocates have long offered explanations for plummeting marriage rates. Mary Rose Verret, who with her husband, Ryan, founded the marriage renewal and preparation initiative Witness to Love, has argued that young Catholics are “not seeing holy, healthy, happy marriages being lived out,” leaving them without meaningful examples of successful unions.

The Verrets told CNA that the Catholic Church should be considerably more proactive in encouraging marriages. 

“As a Church, we can do a better job talking about marriage from the pulpit,” Mary Rose said. “We need to talk to young people about marriage when they’re younger. We need to sing the benefits of marriage. We should have married couples go to schools and espouse the benefits of marriage.”

Ryan told CNA that such witness is a critical component to bolstering marriages, especially for those who lack those examples in their own lives. “How do you know there’s another way of doing things if you don’t even see it?” he said.

‘An opportunity for conversion’

Pope Francis last year named the Verrets as consultants to the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life, which Mary Rose said would allow them to “serve the sacrament of marriage in a more impactful way.” 

The couple’s Witness to Love program offers a “full-circle” approach to promoting strong marriages in order to counteract collapsing marriage numbers in the U.S. The ministry helps couples “explore the depths of their relationship” by “nurturing qualities that form the foundation of enduring love and commitment.” 

Yet Ryan told CNA this week that “more and more couples these days don’t know someone who’s married.” 

J.P. De Gance, the founder and president of a marriage and relationship ministry called Communio, pointed out that dioceses often invest much more in priestly vocations than matrimonial ones. 

“Every diocese has a vocations director, and that director typically focuses on vocations to priestly ordination,” he told CNA. “When we focus in that area, we’re trying to get men to commit to a celibate life dedicated to Our Lord and to priestly ministry.”

“That’s a harder ask, typically, than marriage,” he pointed out. “... If you compare marital vocations to priestly vocations, ordinations are down 38% since 1970, but Catholic marriages are down north of 70%.” 

That ratio, he said, means that “we’re getting twice as many priestly ordinations per Catholic wedding.” 

He pointed out that historically marriage has been seen as the “foundation” of success, whereas in the modern era it is increasingly seen as a “capstone” to success. 

“Today a lot of parents, even faithful parents, are saying: ‘Don’t think about getting married or even getting serious until after college. Wait until you’re established’,” DeGance noted. “Any time parents say that, you’re advancing a message that causes our kids to delay marriage.”

Parishes have a significant role to play in helping reverse this decline, De Gance said.

“At the parish level, we need to teach the skills of discerning a good Christian relationship and a good Christian spouse,” he said. 

Though not everyone is called to marriage, De Gance said, pastors should stress that it’s “the most common path to grow in holiness.”

“A lot of time parish priests are concerned about preaching in this way,” he said. “They’re afraid of hurting people by talking about this.” 

But “if we fail to preach and teach about it, we’re not going to have any chance to push back against the zeitgeist that’s saying the exact opposite,” he said. 

Mary Rose Verret told CNA that she has observed intense interest from young people about marriage. When she facilitated marriage-focused events while working for the Family Life Office of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, “we’d hit the capacity of the building,” she said.

“It’s not that young people value marriage less,” she said. Rather, “they idealize it, they delay it,” and, further, they “don’t surround themselves with marriageable people.”

Ryan Verret said parishes should help facilitate relationships in which young adults can help each other toward getting married, including introducing single friends who are seeking marriage.

“We’re helping parishes to say: ‘If you want engaged couples to be married in the Church, then there needs to be an opportunity to enrich marriages,’” he said. To get to that point, he noted, young men and women “need to have a reference point for what marriage looks like in society.”

De Gance, meanwhile, said one way parishes can help is to defray the high costs often associated with weddings. The average wedding in the U.S. can run more than $30,000, which is often prohibitive for young people looking to get married.

Parishes often charge money for wedding services, including receptions, and De Gance said they should aim to keep those fees as low as possible.

“Parishes should see marriages and weddings as an opportunity for conversion, not as a way to offset costs for the parish,” he said. “The cost of a wedding is a barrier for a lot of young people. There should be inexpensive ways to leverage the facility so you can host a low-cost wedding reception.”

Part of the danger, De Gance noted, is that many Church leaders have become used to the new paradigm of low marriage rates and young people who don’t want to get married. “There is a general cultural zeitgeist that Catholics and other Christians have imbibed, and we don’t even realize it.”

Yet the crisis, he said, should not be overlooked. “This is the civilizational challenge facing the Church,” he said.

States, doctors sue Biden administration over transgender medical mandate

null / Credit: Ulf Wittrock/Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 10, 2024 / 17:55 pm (CNA).

Seven states and a group of pediatricians are suing President Joe Biden’s administration over a rule that would force doctors to provide sex-change procedures and require health insurers to cover them.

“Joe Biden is once again exceeding his legal authority in order to force his radical transgender ideology onto the American people,” Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, who led the seven-state coalition, said in a statement on Wednesday.

The lawsuit argues that HHS did not have the authority to create the rule and that it is not a legitimate interpretation of the Affordable Care Act’s prohibition on sex discrimination. It also argues that the rule violates the First Amendment and Fifth Amendment rights of health care providers.

The Biden administration “is threatening to hold federal funding hostage from any health care provider that refuses to perform or affirm harmful and irreversible transgender procedures,” Bailey said.

“I am filing suit because I will not allow out-of-touch federal bureaucrats to force Missouri health care providers into performing experimental and dangerous gender-transition procedures on the taxpayer dime.”

The other states joining in the lawsuit are Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Utah.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued the rule in April of this year. The rule reinterprets the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) prohibition on “sex” discrimination to include a ban on “gender identity” discrimination, even if the person’s self-asserted “gender identity” is different from his or her sex. The ban on discrimination applies whether the patients are adults or minors.

Refusing to provide or cover transgender medical interventions, such as sex-change operations and drugs, is considered discriminatory and unlawful under the rule. If a health care provider or insurer violates this rule, they could be stripped of federal financial assistance and would be excluded from participating in Medicare and Medicaid. 

The ACA itself does not specifically reference “gender identity” or sex-change procedures on adults or minors.

The lawsuit asks the federal court to block HHS from enforcing the law against the seven states in the lawsuit and the doctors affiliated with the American College of Pediatricians, which is also represented in the lawsuit. 

Last week, a federal judge temporarily blocked HHS from enforcing the law against 15 other states who separately filed a lawsuit.

Dr. Jill Simons, the executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, said in a statement that the organization joined the lawsuit because “doctors should never be forced to violate their sound medical judgment and perform life-altering and sterilizing interventions on their patients.”

“Our doctors take an oath to do no harm, but the Biden administration’s rule forces them to violate this oath and perform procedures that are harmful and dangerous to our patients — vulnerable children,” she added. “What the Biden administration is calling for is wrong and unlawful.”

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Julie Marie Blake accused the Biden administration of trying to “hijack medicine” with the rule. ADF is representing the American College of Pediatricians in the suit.

“The HHS rule will harm those suffering from gender dysphoria, particularly children, and punish doctors who seek to care for them,” Blake said in a statement. 

“Medical professionals around the world and individuals who have undergone these experimental, body-altering procedures are warning about their risks,” she said. “Yet the Biden administration is working to force doctors to perform these harmful, often sterilizing procedures to make people appear as the opposite sex.” 

“We are urging the court to halt the administration’s vast overreach in health care.”

The HHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

National Eucharistic Pilgrims serve the poor during ‘Boxes of Mercy’ day of service

Perpetual Pilgrim Patrick Fayad lifts a heavy "Box of Mercy" filled with donations for refugee families. / Credit: Jonah McKeown/CNA

St. Louis, Mo., Jul 10, 2024 / 17:25 pm (CNA).

As cars sped past a humble St. Louis apartment complex and children played nearby, a gaggle of mostly Latino residents gathered around a group of Catholic sisters, eagerly waiting to hear their name called. 

When each family’s cardboard box was located, a Perpetual Pilgrim — young men and women committed to walking thousands of miles across the U.S. with the Eucharist this summer — stepped forward to carry the heavy box up to each family’s apartment. 

An initiative of the Archdiocese of St. Louis as part of the ongoing National Eucharistic Revival, the “Boxes of Mercy” were loaded over the past few months with donated necessities such as food, clothes, and personal care items. Catholics from at least 61 parishes in the archdiocese contributed donations to the boxes, according to the St. Louis Review.

The St. Junípero Serra Route, the longest of the four National Eucharistic Pilgrimage routes, began in San Francisco in May and arrived in the St. Louis area July 5 to enthusiastic crowds. Throughout the pilgrimage experience, on Saturdays, the Perpetual Pilgrims have been given opportunities to serve the poor in the communities they are passing through. 

Given the summer heat and the substantial weight of the boxes, the July 6 project turned out to be one of the more physically strenuous service opportunities that the pilgrims have engaged in, Perpetual Pilgrim Patrick Fayad told CNA. 

Of all the projects the Serra Route pilgrims have done, “this is the most intense,” he said.

“Which is really good,” he added. 

Before the sisters brought the boxes to the apartment complex, Auxiliary Bishop Mark Rivituso of St. Louis blessed the boxes with holy water, calling the boxes “an overwhelming response of generosity on behalf of so many, who see the need and want to help and be Christ’s compassion for others.”

After Eucharistic adoration with the Missionaries of Charity, Rivituso then processed the Eucharist from the Missionaries of Charity to St. Josephine Bakhita Parish, where adoration continued while the pilgrims prepared to head to where the boxes were to be distributed. 

Bishop Mark Rivituso, auxiliary of St. Louis, blesses the "Boxes of Mercy" filled with donations for refugee families. Credit: Jonah McKeown/CNA
Bishop Mark Rivituso, auxiliary of St. Louis, blesses the "Boxes of Mercy" filled with donations for refugee families. Credit: Jonah McKeown/CNA

Carpooling in vans, the pilgrims arrived at the north St. Louis City apartment complex that houses a large number of refugee families from Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, and several African countries. As the assembled refugees smiled with joy and gratitude, the pilgrims carried the heavy boxes up to each apartment while the Missionaries of Charity issued directions. Sister Drita Maris, MC, said the sisters come to this complex frequently to offer assistance and faith instruction to the children who live there.

“Really, we appreciate it. My family appreciates it always,” said Olga Rivas, one of the recipients, who came to the U.S. with her family from Colombia. She said the Missionaries of Charity always make themselves available for the material and spiritual needs of the refugees. 

“I’m blessed, because they always try to help … They help me with my apartment and come and pray in my apartment … If you have a problem, just talk with them,” Rivas said. 

Cecelia Lopez, a former resident of the apartment complex who returns frequently to help the refugee families, acted as translator and led the group in prayer, in Spanish, before the boxes were distributed. She said the sisters have been a huge help to the refugee families, saying the families know they can call the sisters “with any need.”

Ceclia Lopez, center, leads the group in prayer, in Spanish, before the "Boxes of Mercy" were distributed. Credit: Jonah McKeown/CNA
Ceclia Lopez, center, leads the group in prayer, in Spanish, before the "Boxes of Mercy" were distributed. Credit: Jonah McKeown/CNA

Jane Guenther, director of the Catholic Renewal Center for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, told CNA that the service project aimed to be a preparation for the next phase of the Eucharistic Revival, the Year of Mission. As part of that next phase, Catholics are invited to “commit to the daily gift of yourself, in concrete acts of service to others, which is at the heart of missionary discipleship.”

The St. Louis service project was “a really important thing, to give them that experience to be a part of that Eucharistic missionary aspect,” Guenther said. 

Pope Francis tells AI leaders: No machine should ever choose to take human life

null / Credit: Blue Planet Studio/Shutterstock

Rome Newsroom, Jul 10, 2024 / 10:33 am (CNA).

Pope Francis urged artificial intelligence leaders on Wednesday to “protect human dignity in this new era of machines.”

In a message to an AI ethics conference in Hiroshima, Japan, with leaders from Microsoft, IBM, Cisco, the United Nations, and representatives from all major world religions, the pope underlined that artificial intelligence has implications for the future of war and peace in our world.

The Holy Father called for a ban on lethal autonomous weapon systems — a class of weapons that use computer algorithms to independently target and employ weapons without manual human control of the system.

“No machine should ever choose to take the life of a human being,” Francis said in the message published July 10.

The pope underscored the symbolic importance of discussing AI ethics at the atomic bombing site in Hiroshima, a place that serves as a reminder of the consequences that can arise from advancing technology without considering the full implications.

“It is crucial that, united as brothers and sisters, we remind the world that in light of the tragedy that is armed conflict, it is urgent to reconsider the development and use of devices like the so-called ‘lethal autonomous weapons’ and ultimately ban their use,” Francis said, renewing a call he made at the G7 summit in Italy in June.

“This starts from an effective and concrete commitment to introduce ever greater and proper human control.”

The two-day conference in Hiroshima brought together tech industry leaders with representatives of world religions including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Bahá’í, and other Eastern religions.

Brad Smith, the vice chair and president of Microsoft, said that Hiroshima, with its profound place in human history, has served as “a compelling backdrop to help ensure a technology created by humanity serves all of humanity and our common home.”

In one of the opening speeches for the conference, Rabbi Eliezer Simcha Weisz said that “as individuals of faith, we carry a unique responsibility to infuse our pursuit of AI with moral clarity and ethical integrity.”

More than 150 participants from 13 countries took part in the event co-organized by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life, Japan’s Religions for Peace Japan, the Abu Dhabi Forum for Peace, and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel’s Commission for Interreligious Relations.

Speakers included Amandeep Singh Gill, the U.N. secretary-general’s envoy on technology; Father Paolo Benanti, a professor of technology ethics at the Pontifical  Gregorian University in Rome; and a survivor of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.

The Vatican has been heavily involved in the conversation on artificial intelligence ethics, hosting high-level discussions with scientists and tech executives on the ethics of artificial intelligence since 2016.

The pope has hosted IBM executive John Kelly III, Microsoft’s Smith, and Chuck Robbins, the chief executive of Cisco Systems, in Rome — each of whom has signed the Vatican’s artificial intelligence ethics pledge, the Rome Call for AI Ethics.

The Rome Call, a document by the Pontifical Academy for Life, underlines the need for the ethical use of AI according to the principles of transparency, inclusion, accountability, impartiality, reliability, security, and privacy.

Pope Francis chose artificial intelligence as the theme of his 2024 peace message, which recommended that global leaders adopt an international treaty to regulate the development and use of AI.

At the G7 summit in June, the pope stressed that human dignity requires that the decisions of artificial intelligence (AI) be under the control of human beings.

“We need to ensure and safeguard a space for proper human control over the choices made by artificial intelligence programs: Human dignity itself depends on it,” Pope Francis said at the summit.

Synod organizer says Vatican doctrine office is studying women deacons

Delegates to the Synod on Synodality meet in the final days of the synod, Oct. 25, 2023. / Credit: Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jul 9, 2024 / 15:05 pm (CNA).

Synod organizers revealed Tuesday that Pope Francis has asked the Vatican’s doctrine office to study women’s participation and leadership in the Catholic Church, including the possibility of women deacons, with the view of publishing a document on the subject.

At a Vatican press conference on July 9, Cardinal Mario Grech said the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) is studying “the women’s diaconate” within the context of its in-depth study of ministries in coordination with the General Secretariat of the Synod. 

While the female diaconate is off the table for discussion at the second Synod on Synodality assembly in October, according to the working document, or Instrumentum Laboris, published today, the topic will be included in the Vatican’s study on women’s leadership.

“The Holy Father has notified the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith to study issues, including also the issue of ministries. And speaking of ministries there is also the theme of the women’s diaconate,” Grech said.

“The Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith will study this theme — not only the theme of diaconate — but the theme of ministries,” he added. The cardinal did not make any mention of the possibility of women being ordained to the priesthood.

After Grech’s comments at the press conference, the Vatican confirmed that the DDF has already begun to study “theological and canonical questions around specific ministerial forms.” 

The in-depth study led by Monsignor Armando Matteo will focus particularly on the “the question of the necessary participation of women in the life and leadership of the Church” with a view of “publishing a specific document” on the topic.

The DDF study is one of 10 study groups on Synod of Synodality themes announced by Pope Francis earlier this year. The Vatican published the names of the members of each study group today, as well as a description of the DDF group, which is referred to as “Group Five.”

Pope Francis was asked about the possibility of women becoming deacons or clergy in a recent interview with “60 Minutes” to which the pope replied with a firm “no.”

Ministry of listening and accompaniment

At the Vatican press conference, synod organizers also highlighted the proposal for a new “ministry of listening and accompaniment,” which will be up for discussion in the Synod on Synodality’s final assembly in October.

The Instrumentum Laboris, or guiding document for the second session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, called the proposed ministry a reminder that “listening and accompaniment is an ecclesial service.”

“It seems appropriate to create a recognized and properly instituted ministry of listening and accompaniment, which would make this characteristic feature of a synodal Church an enduring and tangible reality,” the Instrumentum Laboris states.

“An ‘open door’ of the community is needed, allowing people to enter without feeling threatened or judged.”

When asked at the press conference whether the proposal of a new ministry of listening and accompaniment might be a step toward more “bureaucratization” of the Church, Grech underlined that the purpose of the ministry would be to “educate the community” to make progress in its service of listening and accompaniment.

The secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops added that all Catholics are invited to proclaim the Word and to be catechists, but this does not make the existence of ministries of readers and catechists within the Church a “bureaucratization.”

Grech also announced that the Secretariat of the Synod will soon publish a “theological aid” to supplement the Instrumental Laboris, which will provide theological and canonical analyses on the Instrumentum Laboris to help the synod participants to “recognize and understand the roots and implications of what is contained therein.” 

‘Maturation in the synodal journey’

During the press conference, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, SJ, the relator general of the Synod on Synodality, said the reports submitted to synod organizers by bishops’ conferences around the world show that the multiyear synod process “has been and still is a time of grace that is already bearing numerous fruits in the life of the Church.”

“From Kenya to Ireland, from Korea to Brazil, reports underline this renewed dynamism that listening offered and received is bringing to communities,” he said.

Hollerich pointed to how he has observed a difference between the reports the General Secretariat received from bishops’ conferences at the beginning of the Synod on Synodality to the reports submitted this year by 108 bishops’ conferences.

“If the first ones emphasized more the resistance and opposition to the synodal process; these reports emphasize more the weariness and fatigue of a path of conversion that is not immediate,” he said.

The cardinal added that he views this as evidence of “a maturation in the synodal journey,” noting that many bishops’ conferences identified fruits from their local synod experience.

The Oct. 2–27 gathering of the Synod on Synodality will mark the end of the discernment phase of the Church’s synodal process, which Pope Francis opened in 2021.

Participants in the fall meeting, including Catholic bishops, priests, religious, and laypeople from around the world, will prepare and vote on the Synod on Synodality’s advisory final document, which will then be given to the pope, who decides the Church’s next steps and if he wishes to adopt the text as a papal document or to write his own.

The third phase of the synod — after “the consultation of the people of God” and “the discernment of the pastors” — will be “implementation,” according to organizers.

“The synod is already changing our way of being and living the Church regardless of the October assembly,” Hollerich said.

These are the members of the Synod on Synodality study groups

Pope Francis among the delegates of the Synod on Synodality, held in October of 2023. / Credit: Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jul 9, 2024 / 14:35 pm (CNA).

The Vatican published Tuesday the names of the members of 15 study groups doing deeper analyses on questions such as women deacons, the ministry of bishops, and synodal formation for future priests from last year’s session of the Synod on Synodality.

Some of the groups were formed at the request of Pope Francis, who asked the dicasteries of the Roman Curia to collaborate with the General Secretariat of the Synod to deepen the theological, pastoral, and canonical reflections on certain themes that emerged during the synodal assembly in October 2023.

Additional study groups were also created to provide deeper theological analysis of “five perspectives” ahead of the second session of the synod, to be held at the Vatican Oct. 2–27. 

The Instrumentum Laboris, the guiding document for the October 2024 assembly, makes reference to these study groups throughout.

The groups “are entrusted with the task of delving into 10 themes emerging from the [summary report of the first session] and identified by the pope at the end of an international consultation. These study groups, made up of pastors and experts from all continents, use a synodal working method,” the document said.

Here is the full list of study group members as presented by the Vatican:

Group 1

Some aspects of relations between Eastern Catholic Churches and the Latin Church (summary report 6)

1. Professor Péter SZABÓ, professor of canon law in the Post-Gradual Institute of Canon Law in Budapest (HUNGARY), consultor of the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches, coordinator

2. Cardinal Claudio GUGEROTTI, prefect of the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches

3. Archbishop Laurent ULRICH, archbishop of Paris and ordinary for the Eastern Faithful residing in France and lacking the hierarchy of their own Church “sui iuris” (FRANCE)

4. Archbishop Cyril VASIL’, SI, archbishop of Kosice for Catholics of the Byzantine Rite (SLOVENIA)

5. Archbishop Boghos Levon ZEKIYAN, archbishop of Istanbul, Constantinople, of the Armenians (TURKEY)

6. Archbishop Borys GUDZIAK, archbishop of Philadelphia of the Ukrainians (U.S.A.)

7. Archbishop Michel JALAKH, OAM, secretary of the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches

8. Bishop Joseph SRAMPICKAL, bishop of the Eparchy of Great Britain of the Syro-Malabars (GREAT BRITAIN)

9. Bishop Flaviano Rami AL-KABALAN, apostolic visitor for the Syrian Catholic Faithful residing in Europe and procurator of the Syrian Catholic Church in Rome (ITALY)

10. Father Filippo CIAMPANELLI, undersecretary of the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches

11. Father John D. FARIS, corepiscop of the Maronite Church (LEBANON)

12. Father Daniel GALADZA, official of the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches

13. Dr. Daoud Boutros TAYEH, secretary-general of the Pastoral Council of the Maronite Eparchy of Jounieh (LEBANON).

Group 2

Listening to the cry of the poor (summary report 4 and 16)

1. Dr. Sandie CORNISH, professor of Social Doctrine of the Church in the Australian Catholic University in North Sydney (AUSTRALIA), member of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, coordinator

2. Cardinal Michael CZERNY, SI, prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development

3. Father Francis MAZZITELLI, FDP, head of the Office of the Dicastery for the Service of Charity

4. Sister Maria CIMPERMAN, RSCJ, professor of Theological Ethics and Consecrated Life in the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, U.S.A.

5. Dr. Joseph GUNN, executive director of the Oblate Centre, A Voice for Justice in Saint Paul University in Ottawa (CANADA)

6. Dr. Mauricio LÓPEZ OROPEZA, vice president of the Amazon Ecclesial Conference

7. Dr. Leocadie LUSHOMBO, professor of theological ethics in the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, U.S.A.

8. Professor Agnes BRAZAL, professor of theology in De La Salle University in Manila (PHILIPPINES)

Group 3

Mission in the digital environment (summary report 17)

1. Dr. Kim DANIELS, director of Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life in Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. (U.S.A.), coordinator

2. Archbishop Rino FISICHELLA, pro-prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization (Section for Fundamental Issues of Evangelization in the World)

3. Dr. Paolo RUFFINI, prefect of the Dicastery for Communication

4. Bishop Paul Desmond TIGHE, secretary of the Dicastery for Culture and Education

5. Father Lucio Adrián RUIZ, secretary of the Dicastery for Communication

6. Father Antonino SPADARO, SI, undersecretary of the Dicastery f o r Culture and Education

7. Sister Nathalie BECQUART, Xavière, undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod

8. Father Joseph BORG, professor of media and communications in the University of Malta (MALTA)

Group 4

The revision of the Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis.

In a missionary synodal perspective (summary report 11)

1. Cardinal José COBO CANO, archbishop of Madrid ( SPAIN), coordinator

2.  Cardinal Jean-Claude HOLLERICH, SI, archbishop of Luxembourg (LUXEMBOURG), general rapporteur of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops

3. Cardinal Lazarus HEUNG-SIK, prefect of the Dicastery for the Clergy

4. Father Eamonn MCLAUGHLIN, assistant undersecretary of the Dicastery for the Clergy for the Office of Formation.

5. Father Mario ANTONELLI, rector of the Pontifical Lombard Seminary in Rome (ITALY)

6. Father Hubertus BLAUMEISER, director of the magazine Ekklesía and member of the Study Center of the Focolare Movement (ITALY), consultor of the Dicastery for the Clergy

7. Father Andrew RECEPCIÓN, spiritual director of the Pontifical Philippine College in Rome (ITALY)

8. Father Guy BOGNON, PSS, secretary-general of the Pontifical Missionary Work of St. Peter the Apostle

9. Dr. María Lia ZERVINO of the Servidora Association, council member of the Laudato Si' Movement, consultant to the Dicastery for Bishops and the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue

Group 5

Some theological and canonical issues around specific ministerial forms (summary report 8 and 9)

The in-depth study of the issues at hand — particularly the question of the necessary participation of women in the life and leadership of the Church — has been entrusted to the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, under the coordination of the secretary for the Doctrinal Section, Monsignor Armando MATTEO, and in dialogue with the Secretariat General of the Synod. The dicastery has initiated its study according to the procedures established in its own Rules of Procedure, with a view to the publication of an appropriate document.

Group 6

The revision, from a synodal and missionary perspective, of documents governing relations between bishops, consecrated life, Church aggregations (summary report 10)

1. Cardinal Joseph William TOBIN, CSR, archbishop of Newark (U.S.A.), coordinator

2. Cardinal Luis Antonio G. TAGLE, pro-prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization (Section for First Evangelization and New Particular Churches)

3. Cardinal João BRAZ DE AVIZ, prefect of the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life

4. Cardinal Kevin Joseph FARRELL, prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life

5. Cardinal Robert Francis PREVOST, OSA, prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops

6. Sister Simona BRAMBILLA, MC, secretary of the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life

7. Archbishop Luis MARÍN DE SAN MARTÍN, OSA, undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod

8. Dr. Linda GHISONI, undersecretary of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life

Group 7

Some aspects of the figure and ministry of the bishop (particularly: criteria for the selection of candidates for the episcopate, judicial function of the bishop, nature and conduct of ad limina Apostolorum visits) in a missionary synodal perspective (summary report 12 and 13)

1. Archbishop Felix GENN, bishop of Münster (GERMANY), member of the Dicastery for Bishops, coordinator

2. Cardinal Luis G. TAGLE, pro-prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization (Section for First Evangelization and New Particular Churches)

3. Cardinal Jean-Claude HOLLERICH, SI, archbishop of Luxembourg (LUXEMBOURG), general rapporteur of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops

4.  Cardinal Leonardo Ulrich STEINER, OFM, archbishop of Manaus (BRAZIL), vice president of the Amazon Ecclesial Conference

5. Cardinal Mario GRECH, secretary-general of the General Secretariat of the Synod.

6. Cardinal Robert Francis PREVOST, OSA, prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops

7. Cardinal Claudio GUGEROTTI, prefect of the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches

8. Father Samuele SANGALLI, undersecretary of the Dicastery for Evangelization (Section for First Evangelization and New Particular Churches)

9. Father Giacomo COSTA, SI, president of the “San Fedele Cultural Foundation” in Milan (ITALY), Special Secretary of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops

10. Sister Hermenegild MAKORO, CPS, former secretary-general of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Southern Africa (SOUTH AFRICA)

11. Dr. Karlijn DEMASURE, head of the Centre for Safeguarding Minors and Vulnerable Persons in Saint Paul University in Ottawa (CANADA)

12. Dr. María Lia ZERVINO of the Servidora Association, council member of the Laudato Si' Movement, consultant to the Dicastery for Bishops and the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue

Subgroup in charge of deepening the topic of the bishop’s judicial function

1. Bishop Filippo IANNONE, O Carm, president of the Dicastery for Legislative Texts, coordinator

2. Father Ivan KOVAČ, undersecretary of the Dicastery for Bishops

3. Father Samuele SANGALLI, undersecretary of the Dicastery for Evangelization (Section for First Evangelization and New Particular Churches)

4. Father Markus GRAULICH, SDB, undersecretary of the Dicastery for Legislative Texts

5. Father Erwin José Aserios BALAGAPO, head of the Office of the Dicastery for Evangelization (Section for First Evangelization and New Particular Churches).

6. Father Francesco PANIZZOLO, OFM Conv, head of the Office of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (Disciplinary Section)

Group 8

The Role of Pontifical Representatives in Missionary Synodal Perspective (summary report 13)

1. Cardinal Oswald GRACIAS, archbishop of Bombay (INDIA), coordinator

2. Cardinal Mario GRECH, secretary-general of the General Secretariat of the Synod

3. Archbishop Antonio FILIPAZZI, apostolic nuncio to Poland

4. Archbishop Salvatore PENNACCHIO, president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy

5. Archbishop Luciano RUSSO, secretary for Papal Representations (Secretariat of State)

6. Father Joseph MURPHY, undersecretary for the Diplomatic Role Personnel of the Holy See (Secretariat of State)

7. Father Angelo TOGNONI of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, official of the Section for the Diplomatic Role Personnel of the Holy See (Secretariat of State)

8. Professor Myriam WIJLENS, professor of canon law in the Universität Erfurt (GERMANY), Consultant of the General Secretariat of the Synod

Group 9

Theological criteria and synodal methodologies for shared discernment of controversial doctrinal, pastoral, and ethical issues (summary report 15)

1. Archbishop Carlos Gustavo CASTILLO MATTASOGLIO, archbishop of Lima (PERU) and ordinary member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, coordinator

2. Archbishop Filippo IANNONE, O Carm, president of the Dicastery for Legislative Texts

3. Father Piero CODA, professor of dogmatic theology in the University Institute “Sophia” in Loppiano (ITALY), secretary-general of the International Theological Commission

4. Father Maurizio CHIODI, professor of moral theology at the Pontifical Theological Institute “John Paul II” in Rome (ITALY)

5. Father Carlo CASALONE, SI, professor of moral theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome (ITALY) and coordinator of the Scientific Section of the Pontifical Academy for Life

6. Sister Josée NGALULA, RSA, professor of dogmatic theology in the Université Catholique du Congo in Kinshasa (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO), member of the International Theological Commission

7. Professor Stella MORRA, professor of fundamental theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome (ITALY) and consultor of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith

Group 10

The reception of the fruits of the ecumenical journey in Church practices (summary report 7)

1. Bishop Paul ROUHANA OLM, auxiliary bishop for Sarba of the Eparchy of Joubbé, Sarba ,and Jounieh (LEBANON), coordinator

2. Sister Nathalie BECQUART, Xavière, undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod

3. Father Juan USMA GÓMEZ, head of the Office of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

4. Father Anthony T. CURRER, official of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Christian Unity

5. Father Hacynthe DESTIVELLE, OP, official of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Christian Unity

6. Father Lawrence IWUAMADI, dean of the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey (SWITZERLAND)

7. Father Jorge Alejandro SCAMPINI, OP, professor of ecumenical theology in the Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina in Buenos Aires (ARGENTINA)

8. Professor Astrid KAPTIJN, professor of canon law in the Université de Fribourg (SWITZERLAND), consultant of the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches

9. Professor Teresa Francesca ROSSI, professor of ecumenical theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome (ITALY)

Five additional study groups

Five Perspectives to Deepen Theologically in View of the Second Session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops

Group 1

The synodal missionary face of the local church

1. Father Riccardo BATTOCCHIO, president of the Italian Theological Association (ITALY), special secretary of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, coordinator

2. Father Dario VITALI, professor of dogmatic theology in the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome (ITALY), coordinator of the theological experts of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, coordinator

3. Archbishop Roberto REPOLE, archbishop of Turin and bishop of Susa (ITALY)

4. Father Alphonse BORRAS, professor emeritus of canon law in the Université Catholique de Louvain (BELGIUM), consultor of the General Secretariat of the Synod

5. Father Carlos María GALLI, dean of the faculty of theology in the Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina in Buenos Aires (ARGENTINA), member of the International Theological Commission

6. Father Gilles ROUTHIER, professor of theology in the Université Laval (CANADA), consultor of the General Secretariat of the Synod

7. Sister Maria CIMPERMAN, RSCJ, professor of theological ethics and consecrated life in the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, U.S.A.

Group 2

The synodal missionary face of Church groupings

1. Father Riccardo BATTOCCHIO, president of the Italian Theological Association (ITALY), special secretary of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, coordinator

2. Father Dario VITALI, professor of dogmatic theology in the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome (ITALY), coordinator of the theological experts of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, coordinator

3. Bishop Shane A. MACKINLAY, bishop of Sandhurst (AUSTRALIA)

4. Father Pedro BRASSESCO, assistant secretary-general of the Latin American Bishops’ Council (COLOMBIA)

5. Sister Birgit WEILER, MMS, professor of theology in the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú in Lima (PERU)

6. Professor Rafael LUCIANI, professor of theology in the Universidad Católica “Andrés Bello” in Caracas (VENEZUELA), member of the Theological- Pastoral Commission of CELAM

7. Professor Péter SZABÓ, professor of canon law in the Post-Gradual Institute of Canon Law in Budapest (HUNGARY), consultor of the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches

8. Professor Myriam WIJLENS, professor of canon law in the Universität Erfurt (GERMANY), consultant of the General Secretariat of the Synod

Group 3

The synodal missionary face of the universal Church

1. Father Riccardo BATTOCCHIO, president of the Italian Theological Association (ITALY), special secretary of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, coordinator

2. Father Dario VITALI, professor of dogmatic theology in the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome (ITALY), coordinator of the theological experts of the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, coordinator

3. Father Clarence S. DAVEDASSAN, professor of moral theology in the Catholic Research Centre in Kuala Lumpur (MALAYSIA)

4. Father Gaby Alfred HACHEM, professor of theology in the Université Saint- Esprit in Kaslik (LEBANON), member of the International Theological Commission

5. Father José SAN JOSÉ PRISCO, dean of the faculty of canon law in the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca (SPAIN)

6. Father Hacynthe DESTIVELLE, OP, official of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Christian Unity

7. Professor Catherine E. CLIFFORD, professor of systematic theology in Saint Paul University in Ottawa, CANADA.

Group 4

The synodal method

1. Father Piero CODA, professor of dogmatic theology in the University Institute “Sophia” in Loppiano (ITALY), secretary-general of the International Theological Commission, coordinator

2. Father Giacomo COSTA, SI, president of the “San Fedele Cultural Foundation” in Milan (ITALY), special secretary of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, coordinator

3. Father Philippe BORDEYNE, dean of the Pontifical Theological Institute “John Paul II” in Rome (ITALY), member of the Governing Council of the Pontifical Academy for Life

4. Father Matteo VISIOLI, professor of canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome (ITALY)

5. Father Ormond RUSH, professor of theology in the Australian Catholic University in Brisbane (AUSTRALIA), consultant to the General Secretariat of the Synod

6. Father Paul BÉRÉ, SI, professor of biblical sciences in the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome (ITALY), consultor of the General Secretariat of the Synod

7. Father Christoph THEOBALD, SI, professor emeritus of fundamental and dogmatic theology in the Facultés Loyola in Paris (FRANCE)

8. Father María Clara Lucchetti BINGEMER, professor of fundamental theology in the Pontificia Universidade Católica in Rio de Janeiro (BRAZIL), consultant of the General Secretariat of the Synod

Group 5

The “place” of the synodal Church in mission

1. Father Piero CODA, professor of dogmatic theology in the University Institute “Sophia” in Loppiano (ITALY), secretary-general of the International Theological Commission, coordinator

2. Father Giuseppe BONFRATE, professor of dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome (ITALY), consultant of the General Secretariat of the Synod, coordinator

3. Bishop Jean-Marc EYCHENNE, bishop of Grenoble, Vienne (FRANCE)

4. Father Felix WILFRED, professor emeritus of theology in the State University of Madras, director of the Asian Centre for Cross-Cultural Studies in Chennai (INDIA)

5. Sister Josée NGALULA, RSA, professor of dogmatic theology in the Université Catholique du Congo in Kinshasa (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO), member of the International Theological Commission

6. Professor Antonio AUTIERO, professor emeritus of moral theology at the Universität Münster (GERMANY)

7. Professor Ana María CELIS BRUNET, director of the Department of Canon Law in the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago de Chile (CHILE)

  1. Dr. Kim DANIELS, director of Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life in Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. (U.S.A.)