Just before Christmas 2019 the ACI Steering Group received acknowledgement of its report on our Exploratory Pilot Study of Lay Involvement and Co-Responsibility in a sample of 36 Irish parishes.
This had been sent to the ICBC secretariat in November 2019. In late December, the ICBC’s Executive Secretary, Monsignor Gearóid Dullea informed us that every member of the Irish Bishops’ Conference had received a copy of the report at the December 2019 meeting of the conference.
To access this ACI report on the ACI website, click here.
As the study points to the likelihood that parish pastoral councils are either not existent or not effective in a majority of Irish parishes, we made the following recommendations in the report’s conclusions:
- That a professionally designed all-Ireland survey be conducted to ascertain the full picture of lay co-responsibility in Irish parishes;
- That an explanation should be sought in this survey of the apparent reluctance of many Mass-goers to involve themselves fully in parish life, e.g. in parish pastoral councils;
- That an understanding also be sought of the absence of so many young people from sacramental observance;
- That the readiness of parish clergy to delegate responsibility to lay people – in cases where clergy themselves feel unable to promote lay involvement – also be assessed;
- That an explanation be sought for the apparent reluctance of many lay people to have their names associated with any report they might make on these issues in their own parishes;
- That synods – representative gatherings – be planned for all dioceses, with a view to an All-Ireland Synod eventually – as a necessary process in the renewal of the Irish Catholic Church.
In making these recommendations ACI is aware of reports that the merging of some Irish dioceses is already being planned, with a view to a radical reduction in the overall number of dioceses. This process points to the urgency of the proposed survey of lay involvement also, to alert all who still claim an Irish Catholic identity to their own essential role in addressing a crisis that is also an opportunity for a new beginning.
The next meeting of the Irish Bishops Conference will take place March 9-11, 2020.