Diocesan boundaries set down in 12th century unfit for 21st century
From the Irish Times:
Article by Rev Dr Eugene Duffy, vicar for pastoral renewal and development in Achonry diocese. His book The Restructuring of Irish Dioceses will be launched in St Nathy’s College, Ballaghaderreen, next Friday at 7.30pm.
The Second Vatican Council expressly requested that “a prudent revision of diocesan boundaries be undertaken as soon as possible”. It went on to say: “This can be done by dividing, distributing or uniting dioceses, changing their boundaries or appointing a more suitable place for the episcopal See, or finally, and especially in those dioceses which comprise large cities, by establishing a new internal organisation.”
Such reorganisation of dioceses has happened in other parts of the world where, for example, many smaller dioceses have been merged, large dioceses have been divided or new dioceses have been established. The question of diocesan mergers is only beginning to surface in Ireland.
Last February, Pope Francis announced that he was appointing the Bishop of Clonfert to be also the bishop of the neighbouring diocese of Galway, on the retirement of the incumbent. The new arrangement has been described as “the union of the two dioceses in the person of the bishop.”
This, then, is the first time that the mandate of Vatican II has been applied in Ireland. There is a general expectation that this is just the beginning of a process of rationalisation of the Irish diocesan landscape, despite the fact that there has been no public discussion initiated by church leadership regarding how this might best be done.
Link to full article:
” …it is unthinkable that an Irish synodal process would not engage with the question of restructuring dioceses when there is such an urgent need to do so.”
More urgent than discovering, after over half-a-century of non-synodality, what vital faith still has us in the same boat together and figuring out how we are to stem the exodus of the young?
The clerical resources available for that short-term ‘go’ at synodality in 2021-22 were obviously stretched to the limit, and, unless we see an initiative this autumn re that crucial faith formation issue, ‘synodality’ could be merely a memory by the spring of 2023.
It wasn’t the diocesan structure that started the rot, so restructuring just now, when the end-point of the ‘shrink’ is still unknown, may not strike many as the topmost issue.
That doesn’t preclude a sub-group of enthusiasts such as Dr Duffy being delegated the task, obviously.