Church publishes national conversation report including 'stark' and 'painful' contributions

The Catholic Church is today publishing a national synthesis of a listening process that took place in dioceses over the past year, including Derry, and which involved some 'stark' and 'painful' contributions from parishioners from around the country.

The publication marks a significant milestone in a synodal process currently underway in the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Between October 2021 and May 2022 a series of local listening engagements took place in dioceses and other contexts.

Today a synthesis of these conversations and engagements is being published.

St. Eugene's Cathedral

The publication is being submitted to the Synod Secretariat in the Vatican as part of the global synodal process announced by Pope Francis for the Church, to run from 2021 to 2023, with the theme ‘For a Synodal Church – Communion, Participation, Mission’.

Inviting people to read the national synthesis Dr. Nicola Brady, chair of the Synod Steering Committee, said: “We invite everyone to read the national synthesis and reflect on what we are called to do, as individuals and as a church community, as a result of what we have heard.

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"The issues raised are not new, but the honesty and clarity with which they have been articulated in this process, and the relational approach that has characterised the work to date, offers a strong foundation to build upon.

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"Some of the findings are stark, many of the experiences shared are painful, but there have also been many hopeful and encouraging aspects, notably the importance many people have placed on this process and the skills and experience we will take forward into the subsequent phases of this work.

"Important questions have been set out for deeper reflection and pastoral action at every level of Church life and there will be many more opportunities for people to get involved and help shape this process.”

The completion of this phase is being marked with a Mass as part of the annual Novena in Knock Shrine, which this year takes the theme ‘A Journey of Hope’.

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The Mass is being celebrated by Bishop Michael Router, Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh and a member of the Synod Steering Committee.

Dr. Nicola Brady is giving an address reflecting on the synodal experience in Ireland to date.

Bishop Router said: “As we publish the synthesis of the consultation in Ireland for the Universal Synod I wish to express my thanks to the thousands of people nationwide who took the time to respond and to make their voice heard.

"In reading the varied responses gathered in the Archdiocese of Armagh, and the completed national synthesis, I was struck by the pervasive desire to feel a deeper sense of belonging to the Church and the call for it to be more inclusive.

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"I pray that this relaunching of the synodal way will help people to realise that we are all part of a community of sinners walking together on the road, supporting and helping each other as we strive to live as Jesus Christ wants us too. May everyone appreciate that they are loved by God and, regardless of their circumstances, find a welcome in his Church.”

The Irish Bishops’ Conference stated: "The National Synthesis document points to many challenges for the handing on of the faith in this country, including a need for inner healing and hope, especially among those who have suffered abuse by Church personnel and in Church institutions.

"It acknowledges and reflects on the impact in recent decades of a major decline in the practice of the faith, and in vocations to priesthood and religious life. There are calls for greater transparency, participation in decision-making and accountability within our parish and diocesan church structures.

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"The importance of a renewed connection with the energy and gifts of young people is emphasised. So too is the need for fresh models of responsibility and leadership which will especially recognise and facilitate the role of women, as well as men.

"Our listening process has identified the need to be more inclusive in outreach, reaching out to those who have left the Church behind and in some cases feel excluded, forgotten or ignored. In an era of transformation, like Peter we have heard a call to 'put out into deep water'."