The Scottish Laity Network has called for renewal of Canon Law and greater recognition for women in a challenging response to the working document for the continental stage of the Synod.
The network response calls for prioritising reform of the current hierarchical structure of governance to a synodal form that recognises the “gifts bestowed on all the faithful”.
It highlights the tension between the vision of a synodal Church and the lived experience of the people of God.
There is a call to overcome a fear of where the synodal path will lead and instead embrace “its promptings for structures that reflect more our common baptism and the need to recognise and affirm the gifts and charisms of all the people of God”.
The network would like to see renewal of Canon Law to embrace the synodal way. This would mean recognising and affirming the role of women and all alienated by the Church.
There is a need for inclusion in language and practice and special efforts must be made to engage with young people.
“The scourge of clericalism is clearly identified as an obstacle in developing power and authority in a synodal way and sadly manifested in liturgies that are too concentrated on the celebrant,” said the network in its response.
Robert Burnett of the network’s core group told The Tablet that the network welcomed the document for the continental stage.
“It’s open and honest feedback from the global Church authenticated by quotations to a wide range of submissions and its willingness to include issues that some feared would have been filtered out was refreshing.”
He added: “Our response and the responses of other lay organisations will be part of the listening and discernment phase at the continental assembly.”
Mr Burnett said the network was “saddened” that in the majority of Scottish dioceses there was little or no attempt to seek to engage further with those who had participated in the local stage.
He said: “This failure to take this next step in our synodal journey in a truly inclusive way casts serious doubts over the commitment to becoming a truly synodal Church.”
The network said the crucial test for the authenticity of all continental meetings this year is who will participate in them, transparency about attendance from each diocese and the decision-making process.
The network asked in its response: “How do we embrace change and journey together as priests, religious and lay, listening and having the courage to fully embrace the promptings of the spirit?”