David Timbs of Australia to Lead Discussion for ACI

May 15, 2021 | 2 comments

ACI Zoom Events

In preparation for Ireland’s five-year synodal journey towards an assembly of the Catholic Church the ACI Steering Group is arranging a series of online discussions, led by personalities who are already thoughtful about ‘walking together’ towards a co-responsible church.  

The first of these will take place on Zoom on:

Thursday 20th May, at 8.00 p.m. (London)

led by 

David Timbs 

(Catholics for Renewal – Australia)

David outlines his hopes and fears for Australia’s own imminent ‘Plenary Council’ of the Catholic Church here.

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 858 7277 9921
Passcode: 916970

Are you ready for ‘walking together’?

On March 10th 2021 Ireland’s Catholic Bishops announced their intention to lead the Irish Church on a ‘synodal pathwaytowards a national assembly of the Irish Catholic Church ‘within the next five years’.

As a first step they ask members of the church to tell them by May 23rd, 2021 (Pentecost) what ‘process of listening’ they would prefer, to start out on this ‘synodal pathway’.  (For example: focus groups, parish or diocesan meetings, deep-listening sessions, written submissions.) They provide a page on the website of their conference for responses on this, not exceeding 300 words.

ACI members are urged to participate, right away, in alerting family and friends to what could be a new chapter in the history of their church – if ‘deep listening’ (especially to the alienated) is truly on offer. Make sure to submit your own preference for a listening process to the ICBC page by May 23rd – and tune in to ongoing ACI discussion on our Website or Facebook Page.

The ACI Steering Group is grateful to members who have forwarded their annual subscriptions during the pandemic. Help on how to do this is available here.


  1. Ger Hopkins

    We’re all very happy to see the outreach from the Bishops that marks the beginning of the preparations for the Synod.

    By asking for suggestions about how to gather input for the Synod the Bishops are also inviting us to take a look at who makes up the actively involved Catholic Community in Ireland.

    And perhaps that might bring some to look more closely at the huge online community of young, enthusiastic and, to a man and woman, conservative Irish Catholics.

    The Brendan Option, Decrevi, Servants HM, Patricius Ministries on Youtube
    Siol Na hEireann on Telegram
    @CatholicArena on Twitter or catholicarena.com
    Tim Jackson, Margaret Hickey, Ben Scallan and more on Gript.ie
    pavingthewayhome.com, calledtomore.org, holyfamilymission.ie, youth2000.ie, focusoncampus.org in UCD
    That’s a small fraction.

    Young (mostly), cutting edge, rock solid, down the line Catholic. And most of all there’s a real buzz about them.
    There’s a real energy. Some posting 10 times a day. A confident, unapologetic, vibrant community. Retweeted. Shared. Commented on. Involved in all the online arguments of the day.
    Fr. Brendan Kilcoyne is a rockstar. (Brendan might be getting on but the people behind his podcast are young. And they can’t get enough of Brendan.)
    On the street, at lockdown marches, people talk about being Catholic in a way that hasn’t happened in this country in years.

    It is growing like a bushfire.

    And in this world there is no desire being expressed for the ordination of women, ecumenism, Communion for the remarried, blessing of homosexual unions, any of it. Quite the opposite.

    I think the important thing to focus on here is that no one decided that the successful online message should be a conservative one. No one is in a position to.
    Instead, being subjected to the lightning fast evolution of online discussion – when every approach is being tried and tested – this is the message that succeeds. Why? Because in a virulently anti Catholic society any young person who wants to be a Catholic… wants to be a Catholic.

    No one decided the message should be this one and no one is in a position to change it. Nike, Coke and many many more spend millions on online communication and know that all they are able to do is ally themselves with a message, not change it.
    The alternative messages have already been tried. Pieces from The Tablet and National Catholic Reporter don’t gain traction. There aren’t any takers.
    We are left with the message that has won out in this crucible. Reality has dealt us this.


    I would like to offer my take on what this might mean for the members of ACIreland. (Stop reading now if you like.)

    Looking around this site no one can doubt your sincerity and commitment, how deeply you have considered things and how blessed you are with articulate spokesmen and organisers.
    Cherry picking from your Objectives and your Lumen Gentium 37 Submission, you are working for (among other things):

    ” Objectives
    . the full participation of women in every aspect of the Church.
    . a recognition of the wisdom of God’s people in the shaping of Catholic teaching, especially in the areas of sexuality, ecumenism and ecology.

    You believe the Church is unattractive to young people:

    ” Without this understanding of the heroic call of the Gospel to all, the Mass liturgy and homily will also necessarily lack inspirational meaning for the congregation – and especially for the young.
    It is the too frequent absence of this understanding in the Mass homily that leads so many of the young, in the years immediately following Confirmation, to find the Mass ‘boring’ and ‘irrelevant to our lives’.

    You believe that the solution to this problem lies principally in implementing the objectives mentioned above.

    But you also believe there is a more general failure to communicate and involve young people.
    In relation to that you call for:

    ” .mobilising all Catholic lay people to an activation of their own Christian priesthood to meet the challenges of their own environments;
    .alerting all Catholic young people at Confirmation to the relevance of their own priesthood to their own immediate life concerns and questions, and to all walks of life;
    .asserting our own adult conviction that no prayer to the Holy Spirit is unavailing;
    .enabling even the youngest to raise their own voices honestly in service of the truth;
    .restoring lost trust between ordained pastors and people;
    .restoring the prestige of the ordained priestly ministry and the Eucharist as agents of social betterment;
    .enabling homilists to preach more effectively on the role of all Christians living in the world;

    I would ask you to read carefully through each of those challenges and ask yourself how many are already being answered successfully by the vibrant, energised and rapidly growing community that exists online.

    Here’s my point. I’m reluctant to make it because I think it will be a painful one to hear. I’m trying to make it as respectfully as possible:

    The reality, as described in the first part of this post, is that there actually is a message that is proving wildly popular with young people. It is very different to what has been embraced by ACIreland members as being the answer. It doesn’t involve ordaining women, communion for protestants and the remarried or blessing gay unions.

    It would seem there’s a choice.
    . Do you put your energy in to facilitating and encouraging the next generation to practice their faith in the way they choose?
    . Or do you continue to devote your energy to having the Church implement your favoured policies. Something you have worked towards and hoped for most of your adult lives.

    You no longer have a problem and a solution, instead you have a dilemma.

    I understand your deep commitment to your favoured set of policies. It seems too much to change the certainties of a lifetime.
    But I also hope I’ve made it clear that thinking the answer lies in changing the views of the young online community and bringing them round to your own ideas represents a failure to understand the way that community comes to have those views in the first place.

    Your favoured policies are now actually the barrier to you communicating with young people.

    What little can be done? I don’t know. Maybe something that sounds simple and trite but that I think in practice would be monumentally hard and asks too much: Listen to the other side.

    Can that happen at the Synod? Unlikely, but I’ll say a prayer.

  2. soconaill

    By definition the missionary task is not complacently to insist that those who are content with ‘what is’ should determine the future, but to measure and understand the scale and nature of disconnection and alienation from ‘what is’. That measurement has still to be completed and reported in Ireland. The Irish bishops conference has not yet published whatever conclusions it came to in the wake of preparations for the 2018 Youth Synod, and that very fact should give Ger Hopkins pause.

    In the meantime what happens online happens online – and ACI’s pre-pandemic measuring of the shortfall in vibrant parish activity in relation to young people – especially in what was intended to happen at the launch of ‘Share the Good News’ in 2011 – has been vindicated by the recent welcome commitment of Irish Bishops to synodality. Had clergy and people been ‘walking together’ in 2011 there would be no need to begin doing that now, and every parish in Ireland would have a vibrant pastoral council, active in the formation of the faith of parishioners, from cradle to grave.

    The virtual disappearance of ‘Share the Good News’ – as admitted by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin in 2019 – and the forecasting of ‘possible disaster’ in the wake of Covid 19 last week by Bishop Michael Duignan of Clonfert – are powerful witnesses against the complacency detectable in Ger Hopkins inventory of online vigour.

    Ger needs to realize that we ACI members have our own family networks and means of assessing the contentment of young people with the church as it is. We hope he will be as ready to listen to the disaffected and alienated as we will be to listen to him. Complacency and the talking up of online youthful conservative contentment – by someone who is too obviously an adult – sounds, frankly, far too much like denial to be convincing at this early stage.

    The only truly convincing evidence for the viability of Catholicism in future Irish generations will be the participation of young people, and their parents, in numbers, in parish liturgies and preparation for early sacraments – in fulfillment of the 2011 promise of ‘Share the Good News’. That was neither a conservative nor a liberal manifesto – simply an insistence that unless parents are growing in, and committed to, their faith, our schools on their own cannot secure the future. That message has been amply borne out in the years since then – and that task remains to be undertaken by conservatives and liberals alike.

    Listening will obviously be an equal obligation for all.


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