The great majority of practising Irish Catholics favour the ordination of women, marriage for priests who want it, greater roles for divorced and remarried people or couples and single parents, and more respect for LGBTQI+ people.
They also want better-prepared, shorter sermons and the removal of bloodthirsty Old Testament readings from Masses and other liturgies. according to a survey of tens of thousands of believers across the church’s 26 dioceses on the island.
Similar surveys to the Irish one, which will be considered by an 160-strong national assembly in Athlone, Co Westmeath on Saturday, are under way across the Catholic world in preparation for a synod in Rome next year.
Known as “the synodal pathway”, it began in Ireland last October, with each diocese preparing its own report. Each of the reports, along with some independent submissions, will be collated and edited, before being sent to Rome in August.
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It will be Irish Catholics’ contribution to the worldwide Synod on Synodality called by Pope Francis for the Vatican in October 2023.
A survey of the 26 Irish diocesan reports has found that 96 per cent of people consulted favoured the ordination of women, whether as deacons or priests. Where LGBTI+ people were concerned, 85 per cent expressed concern at church exclusion, attitudes and language, while almost 70 per cent wanted greater lay involvement in church decision-making.
Underlining the unprecedented and historic nature of this process, Sr Nathalie Becquart, undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops in Rome, said it marked the first time in 2,000 years that the Catholic Church had undertaken such a worldwide consultation. It is now nearing the end of its first – diocesan – phase.
Addressing Ireland’s Catholic bishops at their summer meeting in Maynooth this week, she said Pope Francis strongly considered this to be the most important phase of the synodal process, as it drew on input from the grassroots. For the church, locally and universally, it was a path they were on and people had no idea where it would end, she said, but everyone should be open to the “surprises of the Holy Spirit”.
Meantime, the Irish Catholic Church will continue with preparations for its own national synod in 2025.