The ongoing Irish Synod is presenting itself as an opening for liberal lobbies within and without the Church to gain traction for long-envisioned ecclesiastical and catechetical reforms.
The Irish wing of a worldwide consultation of the faithful, as well as trademark policy of the Francis pontificate, the findings of polling to do with the Synod has been leaped upon by a press eager to turn the knife, as well as reformist Catholics impassioned that the Church must repeat the mistakes of Anglicanism in embracing progressive oblivion.
Criticised by traditional Catholics for the use of ambiguous polling methods, the press gallery has been thundering in announcing the findings of the Synod as evidence of a need for the men of the cloth to move with the times.
Proclaiming thumping majorities for the ordination of women (96%) as well as acceptance of LGBT relationships (85%), young traditionalists have been firm in affirming the Church’s teachings against moving with the zeitgeist.
In an open letter titled ‘Youth Response to the Synod’ directed at the Synod Steering Committee, traditionalists outlined a sense that the alleged popular opinion of Catholics was being used as a battering ram against established doctrine:
“As young practising Catholics we would like you to hear our voices regarding developments with the Synodal Synthesis. We have concerns that following the presentations at the Pre-Synodial National Gathering in June, the emerging synthesis risks presenting a false conclusion namely that the Sensus Fidei is in conflict with current church teaching and practice”
Listing among its goals the reconnection with young people, the consultation of the past two years is a build-up to a 2023 General Assembly of Bishops in Rome where the findings will be factored in. Vatican insiders describe the Assembly to be a major forum for traditionalists and reformists to battle it out in what could potentially be the waning years of the current Pontiff.
With pews emptying at an alarming rate, not helped by the covid hiatus and the Church’s desultory fightback against lockdown madness, Catholics have diminishing leverage against a vindictive secular state. That being said, seeds of revival are being nurtured in the small pockets of the faithful, wise to the subversiveness at play and unwilling to play the long game.
Grassroots efforts to reinvigorate the faith are to be welcomed in an increasingly laitised Church, but are liable to hijacking with the transfer of power from clerics to parish councils, a potential shot in the arm for the liberal agenda.
As per the citizenship assembly model we have seen used pave the way for abortion and secularism, one should be sceptical if these forums are just used as cheap democratically legitimising devices.
Despite a growing number of traditional reverts picking up the slack on an ageing Church, older and more progressive elements are dead set on repeating the liberalising efforts of Anglicanism while the dark banner of Islam grows stronger owing to a hardline and natalist outlook.
Following the slam dunk referenda, the challenge facing Irish Catholics in the 2020s is locking down the institutional strength of Catholicism once more as the liberal state marches into its own self-destruction. The patch of compromise will lead the Church and the souls it is charged to save towards dissolution merely as a subdued instrument of the liberal order.
The sons and daughters of St Patrick may be presently hobbled but long-term against such transient foes the future looks bright so long as we hold the line.