Synod’s sluggish start in Ireland

Catholics everywhere are four months into the public consultation phase of Pope Francis’s global Synod – but it’s been a bit of a non event in Ireland so far.

Francis launched the Synod last October and many countries have already completed the consultation phase where all baptised Catholics have an opportunity to contribute to local synod-focused discussions and recommendations.

In Ireland, the consultation phase is only now commencing according to a survey by lay Catholic lobby group We Are Church Ireland, which is supporting Phase 1 of the Synod.

Irish participation by the numbers

There are 26 Irish dioceses. Their websites show:

  • Six dioceses make no mention of the Synod
  • Four name their Synod contact person
  • Five have online response forms
  • Only seven diocesan websites get a “We Are Church Ireland” pass mark for their Global Synod efforts

Why consultation is important

“I have no doubt that the Global Synod will take place as planned in October 2023. But Pope Francis’s plan that everyone should be involved will not happen,” says Colm Holmes (pictured) of We Are Church Ireland.

“Seeking inputs from those at the margins and those who have walked away requires a major effort”, he says.

“Much easier for each diocese to contact the few who remain in the pews after Covid.

“A large majority have little or no time for a Synod which, after Phase 1, is totally controlled by the bishops in all subsequent phases”.

This involves organising a “Listening Session” with the theme “What changes are important for our Church?”

Why the delay in Ireland

It’s possible that Ireland’s upcoming National Synod is behind the slow start to the Global Synod.

He says in 2021 Ireland’s bishops announced that they would hold an assembly or assemblies of the Church in Ireland within five years.

“The Global Synod has now been integrated into the first two years of our National Synodal Pathway” Holmes explains.

“Also, our bishops are quite conservative and they are no doubt waiting to see the outcomes in 2023 of both the German Synodal Path and the Global Synod”.

In his view, the two main issues facing the Catholic Church are shared decision making and equality for women.

“We have seen with the German Synodal Path that laity and clerics can work together to tackle the important issues so long neglected by the Church of popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

He says he hopes Ireland’s National Synodal Pathway follows the German model rather than the Roman hierarchical model.

‘We Are Church Ireland’ is part of a global coalition of national church reform groups representing the ‘voice of the people in the pews’.

It is committed to renewing the Roman Catholic Church based on the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the theological spirit developed from it.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: ,