ACP Submission on Synodality – Synthesis – 29 May 2022
(See links below also for Association of Catholics in Ireland, We Are Church, DIocese of Elphin, Archdiocese of Dublin.)
As the church contracts, synodality appears to be ‘the only game in town’. The old model of Church is dying on its feet and is clearly unsustainable. It’s an open question as to whether priests generally will even facilitate it, even though the evidence seems to be that there is still a cohort of committed lay faithful whose search for meaning and whose intent to give their children a sense of God’s presence is potentially a rich source of new energy and life in our Church.
With the priesthood moving inexorably towards a cliff-edge, the future of the Church and its priestless parishes will be managed by lay Catholics or not at all. For this to happen, a very different model of Church will have to emerge – synodal in all its forms.
- Controlling Ethos: It will have to jettison the controlling and manipulative ethos that has brought such grief to our Church in so many measurable ways. Present structures of the Catholic Church are a huge impediment to communicating the Gospel to modern humanity.
- Adult Catholics: Catholics will have to be treated as adults capable and ready to make their own decisions – and not needing their betters to tell them that, for example, mandatory attendance at Mass has been reinstituted from a particular calendar date.
- Turn-Offs: Infantilism, clericalism, patriarchy, misogyny, undue deference to the past have not just passed their sell-by date but are turn-offs for old and young, male and female.
- Women: The crucial role and gift of an equal partnership with women at every level will have to be allowed to stand its ground in a different Church.
- LGBTQ+: Remove the hurtful, damning moral judgements towards the LGBTQ+ community and seek their forgiveness. Issue a clear statement that all God’s people are equal.
- Hot-Button Issues: Women priests, clerical celibacy, etc – will need to be addressed.
- Priests: Due process – transparent and fair – for all priests in difficulty.
- Baptism: will have to supplant the erstwhile priority of ordination, in reality as well as in theory, in the matter of church governance.
This will involve:
1. A commitment to the vision and reforms of Vatican Two
2. Necessity of fundamental change to be acknowledged and accepted
3. The development of doctrine as a necessary dimension of that change
4. Future to be lay-driven, if there’s going to be a future
5. Attentive listening, a prerequisite for synodality, for ‘journeying together’
6. Engagement will have to be respectful
7. Respect and reverence for the individual faith journey
8. Pre-Vatican model of Church has to be jettisoned
9. Remoteness of church focus from lived lives of people
10. Re-imagining and re-imaging of priesthood a sine qua non
11. Role of laity in liturgy to be facilitated
12. Definition of ‘Catholic’ broadened, because Irish Catholics are now very different from Catholics of the recent past.
Link to Association of Catholics in Ireland Synodal Synthesis
Link to We Are Church Synodality Synthesis
Link to Synod LGBT+ Focus Group Feedback Diocese of Elphin
Dublin Archdiocese Synodal Pathway Synthesis