Prayers of thanksgiving are being said across Ireland for the largest ever consultation to take place in the Catholic Church.
The consultation is part of the Synodal Pathway process of renewal which the Catholic Church is currently undertaking at the invitation of Pope Francis. The Pope launched the two-year process last year and it’s seen by some as the most ambitious attempt at Catholic reform for 60 years.
Some Catholics hope it will lead to change on issues such as women's ordination, and same-sex relationships, while others fear it will undermine the principles of the Church.
The Diocesan phase of the Universal Synod in Ireland has involved individuals and groups coming together to listen, discern and engage in meaningful sharing, and a renewed commitment to being a missionary Church. All dioceses have now compiled feedback reports based on their local listening sessions.
Dr Nicola Brady, the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Irish Synodal Pathway said :
“It has been very encouraging to see the depth of engagement from dioceses and other groups with the local listening phase of the Universal Synod. There is much to reflect on as we offer these experiences and perspectives from Ireland to the wider global synodal process. The learning from this experience, and the very honest and wide-ranging sharing that has been offered, provides a strong foundation to build upon in the years ahead as we develop our own national Synodal Pathway.”
Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin said :
“This Pentecost Sunday we thank God for the prayerful and Synodal engagement and listening that has taken place across Ireland over the past eight months. I am grateful to all who participated for their constructive engagement in the many local listening sessions, and for their timely submissions.”
The “listening phase” of the process will now be followed by a "continental phase" which will see bishops gather to discuss and formalise their findings.
A “Universal phase” will then see a month-long gathering of bishops at the Vatican in October 2023, after which the Pope will give his views and decisions on the issues discussed.