Synodality is a contemporary corrective to an understanding of Church that was overly concerned with centralisation and strident in imposing uniformity, which was repressive of the local and paid very little attention to the person, the director of the Irish Centre for Faith and Culture has said.
In his address to members of the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland, Professor Michael Conway of St Patrick’s College Maynooth’s faith and culture department said synodality is about “safeguarding faith, safeguarding persons, safeguarding hope, and safeguarding life”.
“You could think of it as a way of living the Gospel together,” he told a webinar titled “Church, Institution and Synodality in Contemporary Culture”. He underlined that Synodality was not simply something to be thought about but to be lived out.
Describing it as “a contemporary corrective to a centralising dynamic in the Church”, Fr Conway, a priest of the Diocese of Galway, explained that rather than being a dynamic that is oppressive and suppressive of difference, “synodality is one that appreciates others and it draws all together to create a symphony of human cooperation and life through the working of the Holy Spirit among us”.
Over the last 25 years there had been an enormous turnover and change in Irish culture and that had impacted most powerfully on church, faith, religion and on spirituality.
“If we are to find an appropriate way for the church to be church in our culture, in a credible, authentic, life-giving way and in terms of having a future, synodality needs to be engaged in,” he told members of the priests’ association.
The church scandals that had emerged in the public forum in recent years were linked to “a purely hierarchical structure that facilitates power over others far too easily and enables the abuse of power”.
The abuse of power could be found at every corner of the church and would take a long time to be remedied, he warned.