Letter to Pope Francis says Synod report will ‘wound’ Catholics worldwide

Former president of Ireland Mary McAleese among signatories of letter

Some of the world’s leading reform-minded Catholics, including former president of Ireland Mary McAleese, have written an open letter to Pope Francis and participants at the Synod in Rome last month, saying its report would “disappoint and wound” Catholics worldwide.

The Synod was one “in which prophetic voices won no significant concessions from the powerful and wealthy forces of conservatism”, they said.

In October 2021, Pope Francis convened a worldwide Church Synod to address its role in the 21st century. Since then there have been gatherings of Catholics at parish, national and continental levels leading to the Synod on Synodality in Rome last month. It continues in October 2024, with the intention of allowing all Catholics help establish a way ahead.

In the letter, while acknowledging “the bishops’ recognition that the laity have an important part to play” in the church, the signatories found that the Synthesis Report published following last month’s Synod, was not “so much a synthesis as the minutes of an apparently unresolved quarrel”.


This quarrel was between an “emerging lay church” and “bishops who have yet to find the courage to let go of their privileges”, they said. Last month’s Synod was one “in which prophetic voices won no significant concessions from the powerful and wealthy forces of conservatism”.

Among those most disappointed and wounded by the Synthesis Report would be the many Catholics who had called for progress “on women’s ordination, on teaching on LGBTIQ issues, on the celibate priesthood, on reproductive rights or on measures to end the many forms of clerical abuse”.

As well as Mary McAleese, main signatories to the letter included Dr Luca Badini Confalonieri and Miriam Duignan of the UK’s Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research; Pat Brown of Catholic Women’s Ordination; Dr Martha Heizer of We are Church, Austria; Jamie Manson, president, Catholics for Choice; Dr Bridget Mary Meehan, Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests; and Marie Venner, CatholicNetwork.US.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times