23rd September 2020
Association of Catholics in Ireland
ACI Appeal to Irish Bishops to research and establish structures to enable laity to fully participate in the ‘new’ church following pandemic.
These are very difficult times for the Irish Catholic Church and have been greatly exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. The participation and contribution of the laity has been crucial in the reopening of the churches and the continuation of essential parish services. The Association of Catholics in Ireland has appealed to the Irish Catholics Bishops Conference at their October meeting (Oct. 6 and 7) to consider carrying out research and to organise Diocesan Assemblies to identify how real and meaningful lay representation at parish and diocesan level , as envisaged in Lumen Gentium 37and agreed at the Second Vatican Council in 1964, can be effectively achieved.
The recognition of the contribution of the laity and the right of access to structures enabling participation of the People of God in the work of the Church becomes increasingly important on a daily basis.
- “The pandemic has given us, as a faith community, a look into the future and an insight into our precarious position as church. If we fail to respond then those who seek might just move on and leave us in our empty churches.” Bishop Michael Router, Archdiocese of Armagh, The Irish Times 1/9/2020.
- The Catholic Church in Ireland is living through a vocations ‘pandemic’ which will see more new bishops ordained this year than new priests. What is needed is a debate on the wider issues such as ‘how can we supply ministry when it is no longer possible to provide clergy’. Fr. Paddy Byrne PP Abbeyleix & Ballyroan, The Tablet 18.8.2020
- The pandemic, in many aspects of Catholic life, has brought into sight a range of difficult decisions. We are now left with leading questions for Catholics: what will the Catholic Church in Ireland be like after the pandemic? And what do we need to do now to prepare for it? Fr. Brendan Hoban, The Western People 1.9.2020
- The Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland has declared that given the difficulties and many rules involved in opening churches for Mass this is an unbearable responsibility for too many priests. Instead, it argues, this responsibility should be given to Parish Pastoral Councils or ‘a designated Parish Committee’. associationofcatholicpriests.ie 18.6.2020
- ‘The past three months have offered a glimpse into the future. It’s time for a Diocesan Synod to be held while there still is a diocese. Laity and clergy need to stand up and make their voices heard.’
The Irish Catholic 9.7.2020
If ever there was a time for the People of God to be allowed to play their rightful part in the church and for the structures, called for in Lumen Gentium 37, be set up to enable them do so, it is now. A parish pastoral council is a minimum requirement to organise and carry out a limited Mass schedule under the pandemic regulations. Our organisation, the Association of Catholics in Ireland, carried out a pilot research study which suggested that less than one fifth of parishes had effective working PPCs. A copy of this study has been given to the ICBC. In parishes without PPCs, public worship is being made possible by a small number of dedicated people.
In view of the dramatically changing situation the ACI have requested that the October 2020 meeting of the ICBC consider:
- Carrying out research to establish the situation in every parish to inform future strategy for the renewal of our church in Ireland.
- Organising Diocesan Assemblies which would have the critical objective of identifying how real and meaningful lay representation at parish and diocesan level can be most effectively achieved.
- Establishing in every parish a new model of parish pastoral council which obliges both clergy and lay members appointed/elected to be accountable to the broader parish community.
- Setting up Diocesan Pastoral Councils in each diocese, whose members are accountable to the broader diocesan community.
- Training and supporting parish pastoral workers in each parish.
- Establishing technology training and support services to every parish to enhance communications and outreach.
For further information contact Anthony Neville 086 8112715 or Noel McCann 087 9274379.
Thank you for your work. I am privileged to be a member of a very active PPC in Dublin. Previously as a missionary sister I worked in Brazil where all our work was guided by a National Pastoral Plan which was periodically revised. Each Diocese had a Diocesan Pastoral Plan based on the National Plan. It is the thing I miss most since returning to Ireland.