Tim Hazelwood reflects on Cloyne’s Council of Priests report on the Synodal Synthesis.

It was with some dismay and disbelief I read the minutes of the Cloyne Council of Priests discussion on the submission of the national committee which had recently been published. While some dioceses engage enthusiastically and others forge ahead on the Synodal Pathway we (in Cloyne) seem to be taking a different direction. The minutes noted the limitations of the process:

  • Many Catholics had not engaged with the process;
  • The reporting seemed to focus on the “provocative parts”;
  • Younger priests felt criticized;
  • Few priests had engaged with the process;
  • The Pandemic was blamed;
  • Negative feelings from those who did take part were noted….that it would lead to nothing.

From the minutes of the meeting it comes across that the Irish committee were out of step with the rest of the developing world. It was suggested that care should be taken not to “alienate” faithful Catholics. In other words…do nothing.

A few thoughts struck me about the Cloyne Council of Priests minutes:

  • The unwillingness to ask some very pertinent questions;
  • Why was it that so few priests and lay engaged in the process in Cloyne?
  • What were people saying about younger priests? What were the issues?

It seemed to me that there was no appetite for listening, no willingness to learn. If the minutes are correctly reported there was no positive dissenting voice in support of the process. 

Reading the minutes I was reminded of an assembly held 40 years ago in the diocese where, for the first time, priests were given an opportunity to air their views openly. In one of the feedbacks the practise of ‘snag hunting’ – putting obstacles in the way of any meaningful ideas or progress – was mentioned. Reading the minutes of the Council of Priests it seems the practice is alive and well.

Tim Hazelwood

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  1. Brendan Hoban says:

    Brendan Hoban

  2. Sean O’Conaill says:

    This could be a straw in the wind of a reactionary insistence that the Irish national synodal synthesis – and even the ongoing synodal pathway process – is unrepresentative of a hidden silent majority of ‘traditional’ Irish Catholics turned off by ‘hot-button liberals’.

    That would not only be deeply dishonest but a deliberate rejection of the adult faith formation challenge revealed by all of the diocesan reports, including that from Cloyne:

    “The standout response on our future mission is the need for formation and catechesis for both laity and clergy. At this point on the journey, the view expressed is that this is the crucial next step. There is an appetite for a deeper knowledge of faith to nurture life’s experience of faith. An interesting single quotation that “the bible needs to be re-written” illustrates the need for faith formation without making the case for it. The feedback clearly presented the theme that faith formation is surely where our church community in Cloyne needs to start to re-build. Related to this was a sense that faith formation will lead us to a better understanding of what is meant by inclusion and diversity.” (‘Developing Our Mission’ – Cloyne Diocesan Synthesis)

    Is the Cloyne Council of Priests into rebuilding – or sabotage?

  3. Alan Whelan says:

    I witnessed the same lack of enthusiasm in Diocese of Kerry. This is very much in line with what I observed in respect of level of enthusiasm for Eucharistic Congress and some years later the World Meeting of Families. It is not far removed from the four yearly pastoral plans that are never properly evaluated. It seems that nothing is taken too seriously.

    ACP does not help with its unwillingness to lead with positivity: but there seems to be little enthusiasm for ACP in Kerry!

    Having experienced Fr Michael Hollings and his Open Presbytery fifty years ago I continuously ask why are Irish clergy so lacking in initiatives? We are Church…and we can be fully orthodox!

    1. Pat Savage says:

      I must say I was struck by the interesting comments by Pope Francis during his media briefing on the return flight following his recent pastoral visit and especially in Germany and their recent synod.

      “The church needs pastors not pastrol plans.”

      Maybe our own local church in Cloyne and other dioceses were always following those inspired words of the Pope before he made them.

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