Baptism, Canonical Reform the Keys to Co-Responsibility

May 17, 2024 | 0 comments

Genuine synodal co-responsibility in the church will depend upon full recovery of an understanding of the importance of the sacrament of Baptism – and a canonical ‘balancing’ of the roles of clergy and lay people active in parish pastoral councils.

This is a headline conclusion of a summary of Irish feedback to the report of the first session of the universal synod on synodality, published in May 2024 in preparation for the final Vatican session of the synod in October 2024.

There is ‘A clear call for education and formation to promote a richer understanding of Baptism emerged aimed especially at young people, families, and parents,’ according to the report, entitled ‘Towards October 2024: Summary of Contributions from Dioceses and Groups of the Catholic Church in Ireland‘.

Co-Responsible PPCs demand Canon Law Reform

Critiquing the patchy performance of parish pastoral councils the report relays the view of many that ‘in reality, the PPC is an instrument of collaboration and consultation for the ordained rather than the means by which the lay faithful assume leadership’.

There is a strong perception that real differentiated co-responsibility is only going to be possible when the unique authority given to the Parish Priest in Canon Law is balanced with some definition of the authority of the faithful, in particular, structures such as the PPC.

Examining the impact of current canon law on the realisation of a synodal church, the report declares that ‘there emerges a tension as to whether co-responsibility is facilitated or impeded by Canon Law‘.

Formation Critical for Co-Responsibility

Formation is also seen as critical for co-responsibility: ‘There were calls for formation and training programmes to encompass a deep understanding of the Gospel message, the Church’s mission in the world and Catholic Social Teaching, as well as formal catechesis to equip people with the skills necessary for pastoral accompaniment, evangelisation, social justice work, and the commissioned ministries of Catechist, Acolyte, and Lector‘.

As for the thorny issue of equality of dignity for women: ‘Allied to a greater sense of co-responsibility, is an inherent right to have a greater role in how decisions are made in the Church. All who are affected by decisions should have a say in how those decisions are reached.’

Warning: Engage the Young

As for the existential issue of continuity ‘a tangible sense of anxiety was expressed in relation to the absence of young people from faith communities. With a few exceptions, the voices of young people were missing from the listening process’.

To read the full report, click here.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

ACI’s Campaign for Lumen Gentium 37

The Promise of Synodality

What we have experienced of synodality so far gives ACI real hope that a longstanding structural injustice in the church may at last be acknowledged and overcome.

As all Irish bishops well know, the 'co-responsibility' they urge lay people to share - as numbers and energies of clergy decline - has been sabotaged time and again by canonical rules that deny representational authority and continuity to parish pastoral councils.  ACI's 2019 call for the immediate honouring of Lumen Gentium Article 37 becomes more urgent by the day and is supported by the following documents - also presented to the ICBC in October 2019.

The Common Priesthood of the People of God and the Renewal of the Church
It was Catholic parents and victims of clerical abuse who taught Catholic Bishops to prioritise the safeguarding of children in the church

Jesus as Model for the Common Priesthood of the People of God
It was for challenging religious hypocrisy and injustice that Jesus was accused and crucified. He is therefore a model for the common priesthood of the laity and for the challenging of injustice - in society and within the church.

A Suggested Strategy for the Recovery of the Irish and Western Catholic Church
Recovery of the church depends upon acknowledgment of the indispensable role of the common priesthood of the lay people of God and the explicit abandonment by bishops and clergy of paternalism and clericalism - the expectation of deference from lay people rather than honesty and integrity.

For the full story of ACI's campaign for the honouring of Article 37 of Lumen Gentium, click here.


"Come Holy Spirit, Renew Your wonders in this our day, as by a new Pentecost. Grant to Your Church that, being of one mind and steadfast in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and following the lead of blessed Peter, it may advance the reign of our Divine Saviour, the reign of truth and justice, the reign of love and peace. Amen."

Saint Pope John XXIII, 1962 - In preparation for Vatican Council II, 1962-65.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This