Joe Mulvaney: Dangerous Synodal Process?

Dangerous Synodal Process?

Some commentators see very serious dangers in the upcoming synodal process. They distrusts the wisdom of majority voting in the synodal process and appear to believe that the Holy Spirit is limited to speaking through Popes or an elite cadre of unelected males. They appear to distrust the wholesome common sense of the baptized faithful and the solid value of their assent to any propositions such as Humanae Vitae promulgated by the Curial control group. Their doctrinal position is that it is impossible ever to bless same sex unions or to ordain women. They fear that those homophobic and misogynistic clerical doctrines will be rejected and jettisoned by lay people and pastoral priests as were previous clerical teachings on slavery, usury, Inquisition, and anti-Semitism, etc. in past years.

In our ongoing synodal encounters and dialogue, we must be aware of the important difference between core faith and the multitude of Curial Canon Laws, outdated patriarchal opinions and limited clerical teachings. Faithful Catholics gladly give assent to the core religious Good News of Jesus Christ. They treasure the fundamental Good News of a Creator God of Love, an ever-present Saviour God inviting us to full life and a Divine Spirit of Love and Wisdom inspiring us to feed the hungry, work for justice and care for all of creation. Beyond that core faith, there are many different Catholic points of view about the man made and deficient clerical doctrines on mundane matters regarding structures, governance, ethics, sexuality, and ministry etc. All those institutional constructs by the patriarchal control group have evolved and changed over the centuries. Now, at a time of crisis for the Catholic Church, people who are sickened by all the patriarchal abuse and domination, demand substantial reform, radical renewal, and much increased cooperation between all the Christian churches plus other religions.

Irish Catholicism of the 1930s is long gone and most Irish Catholics do not want a restoration of that era. Irish Catholics are proud democrats, dislike dictators and are deeply uncomfortable with patriarchal monarchy. They treasure knowledge, honesty, freedom, and the dignity of their vote. They want active participation, transparent process, and full power sharing rather than the insulting gruel of consultation. The awful reports of the past decades have shamed us for our sheepish silence and frightened collaboration in clerical control, abuse, and maltreatment of women. Many Catholics refuse to collude any further in homophobia and apartheid for women. Many Catholics are alarmed at the failure of the hierarchy to get to the roots of the systemic and worldwide clerical abuse/coverup largely arising from the cruel injustice of enforced celibacy, unchecked power, and outdated teachings on sexuality by the Ancient Fathers.

I think the synodal process could be a great blessing if not smothered by clerical roadblocks and pious syrup. There are talented people, excellent ministries, and rich resources in every parish. They know that massive reform and reunion of the Christian Church is needed. Catholic parents know that it is not possible to evangelise today in the language of sexism, misogyny, homophobia, or patriarchal monarchy. I pray that the Holy Spirit guide us all together in the synodal process to enhance the Kingdom/Queendom of God.

Joe Mulvaney


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One Comment

  1. Joe Mulvaney: Dangerous Synodal Process?

    From across the pond, I agree with this comment. I live in an archdiocese, Cincinnati, much like what I read about here happening in Dublin. I am a member of the USACP and come here often.

    Here in the archdiocese where I live the situation is much like Dublin, fewer priests and many parishes. There has been a plan put forward by the archbishop to combine parishes or families of parishes. It’s called Beacons of Light. I have renamed the program; “Shepherds without sheep”.

    Perhaps it’s time to recognize local parish leaders and honor them for their experience. Ordain them, men and women, to keep many of these small or struggling churches alive.

    One of the things I have read about the Irish Church and remember is the comment of someone who when asked what the dwindling number of church attendees meant as Ireland moved into this century with all the problems of the present institutional church; his comment; “We don’t need to listen to them anymore” referring to all those rigid church leaders.

    Pope Francis with the synodal path is trying to reopen the window of the church that John XXIII opened with Vatican II. Time to let the fresh air in again and breath deeply.

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