Synod Update – Towards October 2024: Ireland’s Summary Document Published

Towards October 2024 – Summary of Contributions from Dioceses and Groups of the Catholic Church in Ireland

In response to the invitation from the Secretariat of the Synod in Rome to deepen our reflections on the Report from its first synodal assembly in October 2023


A Synodal Church in Mission 

and published in November)

the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference received contributions from all the dioceses of Ireland along with a further ten contributions from associations of lay faithful, ecclesial movements, and Church agencies. These contributions were read and reflected upon in a spirit of prayer and discernment by a writing group of the Irish Synodal Pathway’s National Team during Holy Week and early Easter. In keeping with the request from the Synod Office in Rome


Towards October 2024

a draft eight-page summary of the contributions was then prepared. In the spirit of circularity, checking in and feeding back to those who made a contribution, regional meetings were then held across the country and online in late April. Following these meetings, and a further meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the writing group prepared 

Towards October 2024 – Summary of Contributions from Dioceses and Groups of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

The writing group also included a supporting document called Keeping the Synodal Dynamism Alive – a collation of testimonies and best practice from the Catholic Church in Ireland. This document (also requested by the Synod Office in Rome) is an un-summarised collation of testimonies of the work carried out, the lived experience of synodality in local churches, as well as the sharing of examples of good practice that was considered significant for the growth of a missionary synodal dynamism. Keeping the Synodal Dynamism Alive appears in the Appendix of the main summary document.

The key message from the summary document is the recognition of the need for change and the affirmation of a synodal approach to address this need. It emphasises the importance of embracing a style of “differentiated co-responsibility” where clergy and the lay faithful actively participate in decision-making and leadership roles. The document highlights the significance of Baptism as the foundational sacrament and emphasises the importance of ongoing formation, inclusivity, and dialogue within the Church. Overall, the document conveys a sense of hope, purpose, and energy for shaping the future of the Catholic Church in Ireland and universally, fostering greater collaboration and engagement among all members of the Pobal Dé, the People of God.

Link to document:

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  1. Sean O'Conaill says:

    ‘A clear call for education and formation to promote a richer understanding of Baptism emerged – aimed especially at young people, families, and parents.’ (P.2)

    Do our seminaries even yet prioritise the importance of Baptism, seventeen centuries after the 313 CE beginning of the empowerment of the clerical church and the demotion of Baptism from its original status as a fully committed ADULT affirmation of faith and invitation to the Holy Spirit?

    The entire gamut of problems that follows from people being ‘sacramentalised without being evangelised’ is revealed by Ireland’s synodal feedback documents – including the typical absence of young people – but even in 2024, on the eve of Pentecost, synodality is not yet the embedded experience of most of us – because inertial habits of Mass-without-synodality still prevail.

    That the Trinity are always and everywhere present, and that the wisdom of mutual love is on offer to all of us always – this tends to get lost in the half-hour anaesthetic of ritual and prayer. We receive ‘food for the journey’ but still rarely take time to discuss the particular challenges of our own journeys – and maybe today’s sports fixtures are more important anyway?

    Do clergy even feel qualified to expound on the history and importance of Baptism? If they did, wouldn’t we be hearing about that more often?

    Is this any longer a persuasive way of ‘keeping the show on the road’?

  2. Synod Update – Summary of contributions from Dioceses and Groups of the Catholic Church in Ireland, in Section 4, it is stated “From the doctrinal point of view, the question of women’s ordination to the priesthood and permanent diaconate continues to be present in the Irish contribution”.

    So, it is interesting to read the NCR Online correspondent Christopher White’s report on an interview with Pope Francis by Norah O’Donnell. When asked about the issue of women deacons, Pope Francis replied, “If it is deacons with Holy Orders, no—but women have always had, I would say, the function of deaconesses without being deacons”. When asked if a girl will ever have the opportunity to be a deacon and participate as a clergy member in the Church, Pope Francis replied bluntly no.

    This would appear to be the last word on women deacons. The question thus arises will the October Synod in Rome even have it on the agenda for discussion?

    Many will be confused about the role and function of the Synodality process in which they participated and entered their views and comments after attending several meetings at parish level. No wonder many of the laity are confused.

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