Could Ireland’s ‘Synodal Pathway’ be so dogged by ‘hot-button’ issues and the polarisation of ‘progressives’ and ‘conservatives’ that the task of mission is not shouldered together by the Irish people of God?
This was the question posed to a ‘We Are Church’ Zoom audience by Bishop Paul Dempsey of Achonry on October 12th, 2021.
Emphasising that synodality is not to be a one-off time limited event but a continuing and permanent mode of discernment – assisted by the Holy Spirit – Bishop Dempsey pointed to a serious clash of opinion in the early church that turned out to be a waypoint towards the global church of today.
The dispute between those who wanted non-Jews to convert to Judaism before becoming Christians, and those who – like St Paul – argued this was unnecessary, was resolved in the end only by prayer to, and attention to, the Holy Spirit of Counsel whom Jesus had promised. (Acts 15)
Abandonment of, for example, the requirement of circumcision for non-Jews had taken a united Christian community on a world-changing pathway. Acts 15:28 attributes this decision to ‘the Holy Spirit and ourselves’.
Openness to the Holy Spirit, and a willingness to consider the wider picture of the church’s mission – for example to the young and the marginalised – will therefore be necessary for discernment of the way ahead to a missionary church that is focused on the needs of those ‘outside’, according to Bishop Dempsey.
To access Bishop Dempsey’s complete speaking notes for this event, click here.
To watch and listen to a recording of Bishop Dempsey’s talk, click the link below: