Can We Get to ‘Mission’? – Bishop Dempsey’s Hopes and Fears

Oct 13, 2021 | 0 comments

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:


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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.

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