Synodality; an offer

I have followed the process of Pope Francis’ Synodal movement from the beginning. I regard it as an extremely interesting development in our Church, certainly the most interesting since the Second Vatican Council.  

I find myself quite excited by the potential of synodality, though I am well aware that there are many challenges facing the process, and no certainty that it will succeed in the way Francis hopes and wishes.

Synodality is radical because it has the potential to bring about a new and different way of exercising authority and government in our Church. Since the early centuries the Church has gradually developed a form of government strongly influenced by the Roman Empire, centralised and autocratic. This was strengthened in various ways over the centuries, culminating in the First Vatican Council in the nineteenth century with the proclamation of the Infallibility of the Papacy. This has led to the top-down system we have now, where all authority comes from on high, first with the Pope, then the Cardinals and the Curia in the Vatican, then the Bishops, and finally the Parish Priest. The non-ordained person has no say over decisions on any aspect of Church life. And at the bottom of the pile are women, neither having any say or having possibility of rising to one of the decision making positions, because of their gender.

Synodality calls for a very different way of doing things, a way which would give a voice and a say to all baptised members of the Church. Matters would be decided by a process of discussion and reflection among the believers.  I believe that this could bring about great change. 

It will not be easy. Giving a voice to all is a slower and more cumbersome way of reaching decisions, so great patience will be needed. Men already in authority, bishops and the male clergy generally, will find it hard to share their power.  This is human nature and we all tend to resent giving way to people who we view as less experienced in our particular field of expertise.

Synodality is not democracy, where decisions are made by majority vote. Instead, it calls for a process of discernment which asks people to stay with a topic, with deep and open listening even to those with different, maybe diametrically opposed, opinions to oneself, until such time as some agreement can be reached.  Synodality is not about converting others to our way of thinking.  

Central to the success of this way of doing things is that it be seen as a spiritual exercise. It calls for faith in the presence of the Spirit in all believers, faith that the voice of the Spirit can be perceived in everyone. It demands a brutal honesty with oneself and a willingness to examine one’s own biases.  Not easy.  The discernment process, exercised with openness and respect, gives time for the will of the Spirit of God to guide the Church in a way that the old system did not provide.

Pope Francis is a visionary in the best sense of the word. He believes that this can work, and that it is the Will of God for the Church at this time.

This process has being going on in the Irish Church for over a year now, and has been quite productive so far. There are a few more years to go. Some people have got involved and attended parish meetings when afforded the opportunity.  Some people might be only barely aware of process, if at all.   I believe that all believers have something to offer. 

I, myself would love to be involved in this journey of faith.  Here, as the modern phrase goes, I am “reaching out”.  I am willing to meet up with any group of people anywhere who wish to reflect more on synodality, and how they can take their rightful place in it. I would like to meet up with them and tease it out in  discussion. It could be a gathering in a house, a local hall, a back room in a pub, or whatever. 

I am aware that in making this offer, I am meeting my own needs, as much and perhaps more than the needs of others.  

Anyone who wishes to contact me, use email ( or 0876814699, landline 061 546651.