Reflecting on the “rapid transformation” of Ireland, a country with a population of almost five million people, they highlighted the “secularization of society,” and clerical abuse and the mother-and-baby homes scandal.
They also underlined the need to promote peace, a “culture of welcome,” and transparency, as well as supporting the family and young people. They also emphasized the “critical need to honor the contribution of women.”
“We are also aware that many people have left Church behind and in some cases feel ignored, excluded or forgotten -- we need to hear their voices also,” they said.
Preparations for the assembly will begin with a two-year phase of prayer, listening, consultation, and discernment, overlapping with an assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome on synodality.
The initial phase will include a “nationwide consultative conversation.”
“This will allow individuals and parishes, religious orders and associations as well as groups, movements, and organizations both within the Church and in Irish society at large, to share their insights into the Church in Ireland -- past, present, and future,” they said.
“It will also include discussion and debate via related information sessions and educational programs on the meaning and processes of synodality.”
A “planning phase” will follow as the bishops absorb the results of the 2022 assembly in Rome and the apostolic exhortation that is likely to follow it.
“The aim of this phase will be to design the particular form of our National Synod and prepare directly at local, regional, and national level for the holding of the Synod,” they said.
The bishop will create a “task group” at their summer plenary meeting in June to oversee the first phase. It will include “lay women and men, including young people, religious, priests, and bishops.”
On April 6, the bishops’ conference will post a page on its website for the submission of ideas for the national synod.
(Story continues below)
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The bishops concluded: “As we embark on the synodal pathway, we ask for prayers that this may be a time of renewal, reform, and new hope for all the People of God in Ireland.”