24 March 2022, The Tablet

Synodal pathway 'gaining momentum'

Synodal pathway 'gaining momentum'

Cartoon by Jonathan Pugh

The Irish Church’s synodal pathway is “gaining momentum” and local listening sessions are underway across Ireland according to the Irish bishops. 

Following their spring general meeting, the bishops said there was “a growing awareness and engagement in the process”.

The local listening sessions are being held in response to the invitation for synodal conversations during this first year of the Irish Synodal Pathway, which coincides with the Universal Synodal Pathway launched by Pope Francis.  

As the social restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic lift, the bishops said Lent was an ideal timeframe for individuals and parishes, religious orders, ecclesial movements and groups to focus on the Synodal Pathway, “so as to reach out also in creative ways to hear the stories and views of those who might not normally be in Church circles”. 

Some dioceses have already received many written submissions around this year’s themes: ‘as people of faith, how are we journeying together?’ ‘How are we reaching out to others?’

After Easter, each diocese will prepare a ten-page synthesis and the Synod Task Group is due to meet Synod Diocesan Delegates to offer direction and support in preparing the synthesis.  

A National Synodal event will be held on 18 June next to discern the themes that are to be forwarded from Ireland to the Universal Synodal pathway.  

Separately, Irish lay reform group We Are Church Ireland (WAC) has said it is very happy with the replies it received from Irish dioceses regarding their plans to publish their synod summary. According to Colm Holmes of We Are Church, “it looks like most of our dioceses will publish their summaries”.

The Vademecum for the Synod strongly recommends that the synthesis be made public once it has been drafted, “as a touchstone for the journey of the diocese along the path of synodality”.

Sixteen Irish dioceses have said they plan to publish their summaries; none said they would not publish them; while four said their synod committee will decide on whether to publish or not. Six dioceses did not reply to We Are Church’s survey.

As well as the 26 dioceses summarising what they hear, the process will see the bishops summarise the 26 diocesan summaries into a summary for the Irish Church.

According to Colm Holmes of WAC there is no advice offered in the Vatican documents as to whether the National Bishops Summaries should be made public. WAC is awaiting a response from the Irish Bishops Conference on whether it intends to publish this document.

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