Pastoral plan seeks new inclusivity


An Irish Archdiocese’s pastoral plan is being described as a “blueprint for transitioning the Church to this new era of inclusivity”.

Everyone, including divorced or separated people, LGBT+, migrants and minorities should all feel they belong to Catholic parishes, as should “those who consider themselves ‘cultural Catholics’,” it says.

In addition, “images of families used in parish and diocesan literature should represent all family types.”

Irish Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly’s new pastoral plan particularly emphasises that women must be included in leadership roles as “a priority into the future.

Women must be enabled to fulfil their role in developing the mission of the Church.”

The plan asks parishes “to identify minority groups who may feel less welcome or who do not feel they belong and plan events that convey hospitality and welcome.”

The new pastoral plan places particular emphasis on the importance of youth in outlining a future for the Church.

“The Church must change, not because of necessity or because of declining vocations and attendance at Masses but because it is the right thing to do. And in doing so, it is the Holy Spirit that is guiding us,” says O’Reilly.

“We must step out of the past, embrace the present and move to the future. The model whereby a public attends Mass once a week is not what the Church is about.

“It is and must be about the Church being out in the community rather than the community being in the Church.”

Working in partnership with people is an essential component of the future Catholic Church, O’Reilly stresses.

The Church “is changing now and the priest-led Church of the past will need to embrace a partnership approach with people into the future.” he says.

Failure to recognise the role of women in the Church is one of “the biggest issues the Church has faced over recent decades,” the plan says.

Recognising the need to do something about this, the Archdiocese recently appointed a woman as its Director of Pastoral Planning and Development.

The plan recommends training priests and lay people, as they move towards a new model of co-responsibility.

This will mean “greater participation by people, the use of facilitation skills, greater involvement in decision-making by lay people and the development of the ability to communicate with all parishioners.”

While acknowledging “respect for the work which many priests have done in the past”, the plan says the new style of Church leadership it advocates “requires a deeper trust in lay people.”

“This [partnership] model will need to understand the nature of volunteering. The aim is to have many people doing a little rather than few people doing much.”


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