WelCom April 2021
Ireland’s Catholic bishops plan to hold a synod within the next five years to – among other things – hear from people who have left the Church.
The bishops said they are ‘acutely aware of the huge challenges to the Catholic faith’ that have emerged during the past 50 years, including the rapid transformation and secularisation of society, leading to fewer people practicing the faith and a decline in religious vocations.
They added: ‘We are also aware that many people have left the Church behind and in some cases feel ignored, excluded or forgotten – we need to hear their voices also’.
Since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has said he wanted to breathe fresh life into the concept of synodality articulated at the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.
In the Irish context, the process is expected to lead to a national gathering of laypeople, priests, bishops and religious women and men to chart a new pastoral programme for the Church’s future.
The Church leaders acknowledged that ‘we hear a cry for transparency, greater participation and accountability in the Church.’
The process also will especially include the voices of women, the bishops said.
‘While many women are very engaged in Church life in Ireland, we acknowledge the critical need to honour the contribution of women, to hear their deep concerns, to formally recognise their roles and articulate new models of co-responsibility and leadership involving all laypeople – women and men.’
The bishops’ plan for Ireland’s synod calls for two years of prayer, listening and discernment that will coincide with a nationwide consultative process. A task force is expected to be established this summer [Northern Hemisphere] involving laypeople, religious, priests and bishops.
Sources: The Irish Catholic, NCR Online