Dublin's Catholics are being asked to take part in parish discussions on the family to take place in February and March. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has invited priests and parish members to hold meetings in advance of the three-week synod on the family which is to take place at the Vatican next October.
Archbishop Martin is among the Irish bishops attending the synod on The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World. The archbishop represented the Irish Episcopal Conference at the extraordinary synod of bishops on the family at the Vatican last October.
In a letter to priests and parishes in Dublin, Archbishop Martin said it was the desire of Pope Francis that Catholics around the world should have an opportunity to make their contribution to the process.
He said: “Worldwide, there is a great appreciation of the fact that Pope Francis wanted to hear the sentiments of [Catholics] on the theme of the synod. I believe we owe it to Pope Francis to use this opportunity for reflection - and indeed a new model of church practice - which he offers.”
Each parish is to determine itself how that discussion should take place over the next two months.
Responses from the discussions are expected to be presented at the archdiocese's office of evangelisation and ecumenism before the end of March. This will allow for a consolidated report from the Irish Catholic Church to be ready in time for the preparation of the formal working document at the synod.
Archbishop Martin said there was an important distinction between the purposes of the synods which took place last October and that planned for next October, and this should be reflected in the discussion process. He said the aim of the extraordinary synod last year was to gather factual information about the situation of marriage and the family in our time.
The aim of the ordinary synod next October is to take up the conclusions of last years’ synod and begin the reflection on how church pastoral services for marriage and family life should be strengthened and renewed.