Bishop Alan McGuckian acknowledges divisions among Catholics but speaks against polarisation

Bishop Alan McGuckian has said the conversation about the future of the Catholic Church has led to differences of opinion among Catholics but is vitally important 'at this moment in the history of the world'.

Bishop Alan McGuckian
Bishop Alan McGuckian

In a homily for the annual Legion of Mary pilgrimage to Knock, he said: "We live in a very divided world. In many countries democracies are under threat and being replaced by strong-man dictatorships. People readily divide into opposing camps and hear only the media that suits their own agenda.

"The language of public discourse becomes coarse and cruel and demeaning of others. The challenge of Pope Francis to the Church is: will we simply mirror the culture? Will we become polarised, demonising those who are different, demonising each other?"

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The Bishop of Raphoe referred to the ongoing 'synodal process' which involved local listening engagements in dioceses across Ireland and resulted in the publication of a national synthesis last month. He acknowledged this had led to some divisions among the Catholic faithful.

"I know that some people have been reluctant to be involved fearing that the Synodal process is a path towards changing the Church’s teaching. Pope Francis is quoted in the book Let us Dream saying: ‘What is under discussion at Synodal gatherings are not traditional truths of Christian doctrine. The Synod is concerned mainly with how teaching can be lived and applied in the changing contexts of our time…’

"It goes without saying that there are divisions of opinion among Catholics even about Church teaching. Where there is division there will be tension which is often unpleasant.

"However, the invitation and the challenge to us who believe that the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ is the following: If we walk together, if we speak the truth in love to one another and if we listen with love to others who think differently to us, then the Charity of God, the Holy Spirit will be among us and there will be change.

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"Ultimately it is not the teaching of the Church that will be changed. It is we who will be changed. We will become more fully the Mystical Body of Christ," he said.