There is a fire that warms and energises without destroying, that burns within us without consuming us, that keeps us alive and joyful in the deepest coldness of winter night…
It is this endless summer we celebrate now in mid-winter, at Christmas. If we forget that and grow cold again soon after, have we fully understood that the child in the manger is also the man who came to set fire to the Earth, to enable the fire of Pentecost to keep us warm forever?
Christendom – that long alignment of the church with the coercive power of the state – may be dying, but why should this be true of Christianity itself, of that love of Jesus for all of us – a love that prevailed without coercion and founded the church in the beginning?
Why should we fear that secularism – or any other ‘ism’ – has defeated the Gospel when secular optimism is in even deeper crisis than the church? With democracy under challenge, with global inequality at an historic peak, and with the human environment under threat as never before – and with war again raging even in the land of Jesus, secularism is unable to explain why liberty, equality and fraternity are even more elusive now for so many than when this slogan was was first adopted in the 1700s. No one then foresaw the current crisis of the world – itself largely a result of human effort, science and ingenuity. There was a huge overestimation then of the potential of reason, divorced from faith.
We in ACI believe the fire of God’s love for all of us is the greatest of all constants, and will burn more fiercely when it is not hidden by the ashes of a clericalist church system that still imitates too many of the injustices of Christendom. We seek a vital culture of dialogue in the Irish church – based upon our common Baptism – and share the confidence of Pope Francis in the power of God – and of synodality – to make everything new. We believe that the ‘Synodal Pathway‘ announced for the Irish Church in 2021 – and already bearing fruit in Ireland’s national synodal synthesis – can be the turning point that all are hoping for.
To all people of good will, and especially to those who seek a truth that can save the Earth, we wish the same conviction that has kept the church alive for these many centuries, and the warmth of Christmas faith throughout the coming year.