New Zealand and Pacific well represented at Synod

Four New Zealanders will be attending the Synod on Marriage and the Family.

NewstalkZB reports that the church describes the selection of 4 New Zealanders as a significant number for a small country, especially one with a small Catholic population.

The Archbishop of Wellington, Cardinal John Dew, and Palmerston North’s Bishop Charles Drennan will be voting members.

The chair of Parents Centres New Zealand, Sharron Cole, and bioethics expert, Dr John Kleinsman, will be attending as non voting members.

Cardinal Soane Patita Mafi, Bishop of Tonga, and the Archbishop of Suva, Peter Loy Chong will be representing the Pacific Island nations.

The bishop of Kundiawa, Anton Bal, is representing Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

Drennan and Loy Chong and Kundiawa have been elected by their respective Bishops’ Conferences as their representatives.

Cardinals Dew and Mafi are have been appointed by the Pope.

Cole, a mother of four adult children, says she is keen to offer her experience as an everyday Catholic woman and New Zealander.

“I’m not a theologian and there are lots of women who have that experience,” she said.

“I see my role as bringing a pastoral perspective to what effect church teaching has on people in their everyday life.”

John Kleinsman is director of the Nathaniel Centre, the New Zealand Catholic Bioethics Centre.

Communications advisor to New Zealand Catholic Bishops Simone Olsen said it was important for isolated geographic regions like New Zealand to be represented.

“I think in this case he has done that by including countries like Tonga and other Pacific nations that are not traditionally Catholic,” Olsen said.

More than 360 participants, including 18 married couples from around the world are expected to attend October’s Synod of Bishops on the family.

In addition to the 166 synod members elected by their national bishops’ conferences, 22 heads of Eastern Catholic churches, 25 heads of Vatican congregations and councils and 10 heads of men’s religious orders, the pope appointed an additional 45 synod fathers to take part in the Oct. 4-25 gathering.


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