The Catholic Church in Ireland and across Europe is on a “journey to another way of living, with God and with each other”, Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell said on Monday.
In a sermon at Pro Cathedral, marking the Feast of the Assumption, he said he spoke “on this day when the church in Ireland submits its national synthesis to the Holy See” in Rome. The summary is to be published on Tuesday.
“Anyone with two eyes in their head can see that renewal in our church is clearly and urgently needed. The challenge is to find the right path of renewal,” he said.
Last October, Pope Francis launched a process of global consultation within the Church ahead of a synod of bishops to be held in the Vatican in October 2023. The diocesan phase of the synod began with consultations in the parishes of the 26 dioceses of Ireland, then also, with the 26 subsequent reports published last June.
In general, these called for a greater role for women in the church, including ordination, the abolition of compulsory celibacy for priests, a radical change in the attitude of the church towards LGBTI+ and other marginalized people, as well as a much greater role for the laity.
These diocesan reports were discussed, along with the independent submissions, at a national church assembly in Athlone on June 18 prior to a synthesis to be prepared by a synodal journey steering group, chaired by Nicola Brady. This summary was sent to Rome on Monday as representing the views of the Irish Catholic Church for consideration at the Synod of Bishops in October next year.
Hit the Sanctuary
Parallel to the publication of the synthesis on Tuesday, Dr. Brady will address its content in a conference at the Sanctuary of Knock and then also, within the framework of the resumption of the national novena. The novena had been suspended in recent years due to the pandemic.
In his Monday sermon, Archbishop Farrell said what the church needs today includes “functional structures – parishes [and diocesan] boards and committees that work and are empowered to work and authorized to work; more active participation of all”.
He continued that “we need to review the way we celebrate the liturgy and the quality of our celebrations” and he asked “who will lead our communities to listen to the voice of God that speaks in the heart of each person? What structures will help us find ways to wait on God’s word and act in light of it?
Referring to “the synodal way”, he said that “marriage and the family are ‘excellent examples of the synodal way in our lives. What is a marriage if not two people who are committed to going through life together. To make it worthwhile and life-enhancing, they have to listen to each other, talk to each other, make sacrifices for each other, and sometimes even endure being misunderstood or taken for granted.
Looking to the future, Archbishop Farrell said, “The Church is learning humility again. From year to year, he becomes more and more like the humble and simple Christ. It is not an easy road, but it is the only road”.