Pitfalls in the Terminology of Sacrifice: Tom O’Loughlin

Oct 8, 2022 | 4 comments

 Pitfalls in the Terminology of Sacrifice

Dr Tom O’Loughlin

Zoom: Thursday Nov 3rd 2022 at 8.00 PM

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church the sacrament of the Mass, the Eucharist, is called ‘the Holy Sacrifice because it makes present the one sacrifice of Christ the Saviour and includes the Church’s offering’. (1330) 

In September 2022 Archbishop Eamon Martin asked Irish Catholics to think of making ‘personal sacrifices in answer to the cry of the Earth’.

And yet Christian ideas of sacrifice have been blamed by some historians for much of the violence of history, including the Crusades, the expansion of European imperialism and colonialism from c.1450, and the bloodletting of World War I.

So how are we to understand Christian sacrifice today, faced with 21st century challenges?

In examining aspects of the history of the idea of sacrifice, Dr Tom O’Loughlin, emeritus professor of historical theology at Nottingham University, will deal with “some of the pitfalls in the way we use the terminology of sacrifice”.

The Zoom link for this talk – Thursday Nov 3rd at 8.00 PM


Meeting ID: 992 418 6865
Passcode: 123456

Sacrifice‘ is just one of a number of terms and concepts that can raise issues for the forming of an adult Christian faith. We are hoping to follow this talk with others on similar familiar but problematic terms. Suggestions for those will be welcome, at info@acireland.ie .


  1. Sean Connell

    I would like to submit a comment on the teaching of religion.
    I have for many years been troubled by the fact that most young people leave their religion behind when they have made their confirmation.
    It is clearly the fact that the religious education has failed to give them a firm believe in God.
    They are learning all about evolution.The fact that evolution is part of God’s creation is not being incorporated into religious instructions. God would never have made a world which would just stand still, or give man a brain that would not try to develop and discover.
    He also gave us free will which unfortunately we use for our earthly gratification.
    The prophets he sent were all killed for lack of belief.
    So he sent his only son whom they also killed and he raised him from the dead to prove beyond all doubt his existence.
    Many of the brightest minds over the past two thousand years have tried and failed to disprove the resurrection.
    These are facts that children need to be taught so that they understand and relate to them in their lives.

    • Nieves Fernandez

      Dear friends, l missed the talk last night and l wonder if it was recorded and available to watch. Dr Tom O’Loughlin is magnificent and l was very sorry to be unable to attend the zoom last night. I am a member of WACI and we have our monthly meeting last night. Regards. Nieves

      • soconaill

        Yes, Nieves – that talk was recorded. We will make it available as soon as our technical resources allow.

    • soconaill

      I am sure you are right, Sean, about the central importance of belief in the Resurrection to the passing on of faith, but surely that belief depends upon the grace of the Holy Spirit just as much as upon instruction?

      While science so far tends to support scepticism re the Resurrection, it also faces problems of comprehension of the nature of matter itself. Teilhard de Chardin was sure of the importance of the Incarnation in the story of evolution, and just now the church itself is facing its own evolutionary challenge. All of these things are surely connected. We are all going somewhere, and prayer calms all fear.

      All of us are needed, and the Trinity are guiding starship Earth. Even the trials of the moment help to make us wiser, by undermining egotism and selfishness. We all need one another.


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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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