Reform and Renewal – The Prague meeting aims to chart a new path for the worldwide Catholic Church

Delegates representing the Catholic Church in Ireland will meet at a gathering in Prague today, along with a further 200 in-person and 390 online delegates from across Europe, to develop recommendations for the reform and renewal of global Catholicism.

The landmark European Synodal Assembly in the Czech capital is the next stage in a radical process of wide-ranging consultations within the church initiated by Pope Francis in 2021.

The assembly will agree on a set of “priority calls to action” that may include recommending a change in the position of women and the language of the church in relation to LGBTQ+ relationships.

The four Irish delegates, who will attend the assembly in person, will be led by the leader of the Irish Church, Archbishop Eamon Martin. Another 10 delegates will attend the gathering online.

according to dr Martin, “the Irish team recognizes our responsibility to bear the fruits of what has been shared at many gatherings across Ireland over the last 15 months”. He said “important issues” have emerged regarding the need for healing and renewal and finding “new ways to offer hope”.

Fifteen themes emerged from the Church of Ireland’s consultations with tens of thousands of people in Ireland’s 26 dioceses on the future direction of Catholicism.

They were published in a National Synthesis Report published last August.

Recommendations included a call for leadership and decision-making roles for women, including ordination to the diaconate and priesthood, and greater inclusion of LGBTQ+ people.

The report described church officials’ concealment of physical, sexual and emotional abuse as an “open wound” and said the church needs inner healing and atonement for abuse.

Other issues included concern about the sharp decline in faith practice and vocations to the priesthood and religious life; Shared responsibility for lay people in church affairs, as well as more accountability, transparency and good governance.

One of the Irish delegates attending the Prague Assembly online on behalf of the Church of Ireland is former journalist Ursula Halligan, who is the coordinator of the lay reform group We Are Church Ireland.

Speaking of Irish Independent She said: “As a Catholic gay woman, I am delighted to be part of the Irish team taking part. I see my acceptance as a really positive sign and a sign of hope that our church is really listening to one another and to the Holy Spirit.”

Archbishop Martin said that Irish Independent that delegates will share and highlight “the main resonances from the listening they have been involved in at the local and/or national level”. “Equally important will be listening by delegates to identify issues or experiences that were not part of our experience in Ireland,” he said.

Irishman Colm Holmes will join other members of European Catholic reform movements in a prayer vigil outside the Hotel Pyramida in Prague. He told that Irish Independent, “Our call for equality is a call to continue the synodal process. That means lay and clergy working together to discern and decide the best way forward.”

On Thursday afternoon the bishops will be handed a summary of all the recommendations from the European churches to be submitted to the synod in Rome in October. Reform and Renewal – The Prague meeting aims to chart a new path for the worldwide Catholic Church

Fry Electronics Team

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