ACP Submission on Synodality – Synthesis

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

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  1. Roy Donovan says:

    The Dublin Synod report is very impressive and I applaud it for the number of times as well as the emphatic way it highlights that the ‘new’ Church needs to treat women and men equally in every way and at every level. I find this very uplifting. It looks like the Holy Spirit is greatly at work. Well done to everyone connected with the Dublin report.

  2. Paddy Ferry says:

    ACP Synodality Synthesis

    This is really excellent and thank you for sharing it. “The only game in town”, indeed. Last chance salon, in fact. Sadly, there are some over here who don’t seem to get that. I have taken the liberty of sharing with the Scottish Laity Network, our great beacon of hope over here.
    I have also shared on my Facebook page as when I was last home in February I met a lot of people who had never heard of Synodality.

  3. Sean O’Conaill says:

    ACP Submission on Synodality – Synthesis

    Why no mention of the urgent need to develop a new parish-and-family centred faith-formation model – especially given the August 2021 ACP statement that school-reliant preparation for early sacraments is no longer ‘fit for purpose’?

    The Dublin Synodal Report is equally circumspect, e.g.:

    “The lack of this faith development at parish level indicates that there is a crisis in the transmission of faith rather than a crisis of faith.”

    And, elsewhere: “We don’t really know how to evangelise!”

    The Derry Synodal Report also speaks of the 20-45 age cohort being ‘disconnected’. That this is also the parenting cohort of the children now at school is obvious but again the obvious corollary remains unspoken: that Ireland’s school-reliant model of faith formation and catechesis is not forming a faith that remains ‘connected’, i.e. observant or interested.

    Will this turn out to be the most obvious elephant-in-the-room of the 2021-22 phase of Ireland’s synodal pathway? Committed Catholic teachers know well that an adult Christian faith is forged by adult awareness of the shortcomings of all institutions, and that over-reliance on schools and schooling is therefore a mistake. It is disappointing that the ACP missed this opportunity to say so, clearly, in 2022 when it had identified the problem in 2021.

  4. Paddy Ferry says:

    Synodality Synthesis submissions:

    I often share articles from this site with the Scottish Laity Network (SLN).
    However, tonight the process is reversed as I have just been reading this piece, below, on the SLN FB page written by Fr. Bernárd Lynch and taken from We Are Church Ireland by the SLN moderator. Perhaps it has already been on here. But just in case it hasn’t been I thought it was worth sharing.

    We Are Church Ireland.

    Fr Bernárd Lynch: Message to the Synodal Process
    One of the first catechism lessons I had was before I made my First Confession. I was seven years of age at the time. We were taught, that to receive the sacrament worthily, there were four necessary requirements: Confession, Contrition, Satisfaction, and Absolution.
    These ‘requirements’ I would suggest are necessary for the Church to receive Forgiveness from the LGBTQIA+ community.
    As a gay man and priest, I have worked in the LGBTQIA+ community for over forty years. Most of that time I was ministering and caring for those sick and dying from HIV/AIDS. I witnessed first-hand the soul destruction of gay men dying, by the Church they too loved.
    I with thousands of others have waited for the ‘Confession’ by my Church of this sin.
    In the 1986 letter on ‘The pastoral care of Homosexual people’ issued by Cardinal Ratzinger and approved by Pope John Paul 11, the Church blamed those dying for their disease. This was a new low. The Church does not blame anybody for their illness. Alcoholics are not blamed for kidney cancer or smokers for lung cancer. After telling us as a sexual minority in the same letter, that we are disordered in our nature and evil in our love, this blaming the sick for their sickness was scandalous, causing unspeakable pain to those dying.
    I want the Church, to have ‘Contrition’ and confess this sin by saying, ‘Sorry.’ To receive forgiveness, the Church must change this teaching as a matter of urgency. In doing so we would have the ‘Satisfaction’ of knowing that children would no longer be poisoned by such toxic teachings. They would be free to access the Love of God and the teachings of Jesus Christ through the Catholic Church. We as a LGBTQIA+ community would then be free to forgive as we are forgiven.

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