To be relevant in the 21st century the Irish Catholic Church needs to become more educated, warm, welcoming, diverse, socially committed, ecumenical and sacramentally vibrant.
This was the message given by Trinity College Theology Professor Siobhan Garrigan to a large gathering of members of the ACI in the Regency Hotel, Dublin on October 11th – at the launch of a national conversation on the church of the future.
The universal claim implicit in the term Catholic, founded on the simple reality of baptism, requires radical renewal on all fronts if the relevance of the Church is to be assured, Professor Garrigan maintained
Other speakers – Mark Patrick Hederman OSB, and husband-and-wife team Seamus O’Gorman and Patricia Higgins – adverted to the serious need for an updating of the church’s teachings in relation to sexuality and the family – and the profound challenges facing the ongoing Vatican synod on the family in Rome – given the very serious questions relating to the ‘relevant family experience’ of its bishop members.
‘Don’t look for power’ – this advice came strongly from Mark Patrick Hederman.
Strong reliance on the Holy Spirit, combined with a readiness for new responsibilities – these would in themselves be sufficient to guide the revival of the church of the future.
This is merely a brief overview of the wealth of ideas covered by the speakers. More detailed coverage will follow on this site in due course.
Well done to all, it looks like a lot of wisdom was imparted in the day.
There were some wonderful ideas put forward by the speakers and many innovative suggestions from the floor last Saturday. It is so important that the energy and enthusiasm evident on the day is harnessed to continue the dialogue in parishes and local areas. It is apparent from gatherings such as this ACI event [and the one in Claremorris on the same day and recently in Killaloe] that there is a very active lay cohort committed to church reform and renewal. It just seems that we sometimes need the ‘security’ or ‘comfort’ of knowing that we are amongst like-minded people before we are prepared to speak out. Francis has called on us to speak freely, with courage and, without fear. Now is the time to do as Francis has asked and to speak out with courage in our parishes and local communities in order that our views are heard – on family issues in particular – between now and the Synod in October 2015. We also need to encourage and facilitate others to find their voices. At the moment it is hard not to feel the presence of the ‘Spirit’ influencing proceedings at different levels in the Church – from the Synod in Rome to the simple gatherings of the faithful in Dublin and else where. This is surely the era of the ‘People of God’ in our Church. The sense of excitement and expectation is tangible but we need to seize the moment.
‘Don’t look for power’ – what an intriguing idea. Why so?
I believe that the Abbott was distinguishing power (as in ‘power over others’) from service and responsibility. He emphasised the power of the Holy Spirit to move and inspire individuals for responsibility. See also Mary Vallely’s report at: