Members of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference gathered this week in Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, for their Autumn 2022 General Meeting. The Synodal Pathway of the Catholic Church in Ireland was one of the main items discussed by the Bishops. Having previously discussed it in August before submitting the report to Rome, bishops reflected further on the national Synthesis of the Consultation in Ireland for the Diocesan Stage of the Universal Synod 2021 – 2023. Bishops commended the work and commitment of all involved in the process to-date, and considered the next steps for discerning pastoral actions for the Catholic Church in Ireland, as well as welcoming more people into conversations.
Next Steps – Universal Synod
The next phase of the Universal Synod is the Continental Stage. A working document, an Instrumentum Laboris, will be published in the coming weeks. Around the world, various continental assemblies for this phase will take place between next January and March. The European assembly will take place in Prague from 5 to 12 February. The President of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, will be attending the European assembly with three other delegates. A further ten places will be made available for delegates to participate by video conferencing. Following the continental assemblies, a further working document will then be prepared in advance of the Synod taking place in Rome in October 2023.
Next Steps – Synodal Pathway in Ireland
The Catholic Church in Ireland also continues its pathway of planning and preparation for a National Synodal Assembly (or Assemblies). To this end, in August, the Bishops’ Conference appointed Ms Julieann Moran as General Secretary of the Synodal Pathway for the Catholic Church in Ireland. The next steps for the Synodal Pathway in Ireland include:
- re-engaging with diocesan delegates and representatives from other groups to continue promoting and using the diocesan syntheses and, the National Synthesis, as tools for ongoing dialogue and further outreach;
- to gather reflections on the working document (Instrumentum Laboris) in advance of the Continental Assembly in February 2023;
- to conduct research/needs analyses for developing leadership and formation programmes in order to support, increase, and improve engagement in the process and to strengthen the sustainability of the Synodal Pathway;
- to develop and deliver programmes and resources based on the research/needs analyses;
- to host further national assemblies with delegates and representatives from other groups to continue a process of transparent reporting and consultation; and,
- to develop a roadmap, including potential topics and procedures, towards a National Synodal Assembly or Assemblies in 2026.
Section from the Statement of the Autumn General Meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference published 5th October 2022. Visit catholicbishops.ie for the full statement.