The Curious Synodal Path in Ireland


Family Solidarity is one of the oldest Catholic family organisations in Ireland, and a founding member of FAFCE (Federation of Catholic Family Organisations in Europe) in 1997. In its recent Newsletter, no. 97, it reported about its several efforts to publicise the National Synod. Despite Family Solidarity’s connections and support, the group did not receive an invitation to any national or diocesan event. Naturally, it expressed disappointment in the way the Synod has been managed in Ireland. 

What put salt in the wound was the participation of “groups and individuals that publicly dissent from the Church’s teaching”. Their views were included in the National Synthesis (See Update, no. 188, p. 5), presented as “the voice of the faithful”, even though some of the dissenters no longer call themselves Catholics. 

One group engaged in a pre-synodal meeting at Athlone last June was We Are Church Next Ireland, part of a well-known group, originally started in German-speaking Europe in 1995, and one that regards Hans Kung as its spiritual mentor. It claims to be following Vatican II in demanding married clergy, women priests, change of sexual morality and suchlike. It claims that Ireland with Germany leads the Catholic world in the Synodal Path’s call for “reforms”. It is hard to know what this association believes in, and how it could have contributed to the Synodal Path, and then treated as representative of the Catholic Church in Ireland. Based on Patsy McGarry’s report in The Irish Times (18/06/1922) Ursula Halligan was the main speaker for We Are Church Ireland in its participation in the Synodal Pathway in Ireland. 

Pope Francis is quoted, saying “What is under discussion at synodal gatherings is not traditional truths of Christian doctrine.” Apparently, the steering committee in Maynooth is not aware of this clear directive. Are we to take the findings of the National Synthesis as “inspired by the Holy Spirit”, even when contrary to established teaching? 

Family Solidarity has arranged a further public meeting on the Synod in Ireland at Ely Place, Dublin, on Saturday, December 3, starting with a Mass at 11.00 AM. 

A Protestant Debunks Ten Myths of Catholic Wickedness 

Have you come across the American author, Rodney Stark, in your reading? He was a professional sociologist of religion and a prolific author of 30 books on subjects related to his studies. Sadly he died in July this year. He denied that he was ever an atheist, and in recent years described himself as an “independent Christian”. 

During his career he challenged some of the accepted claims of “renowned” academics about religious belief, among which were Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and the growth of Christianity in the Roman Empire. More recently, he examined the ideology of anti Catholicism among professional historians, and made it the subject of one of his best selling books in the USA: Bearing False Witness: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History. * 

Stark held the anti-Catholicism has long poisoned American culture and academic life, and, despite being at odds with contemporary research, is still being taught in schools and repeated in the media. Anti-Catholicism was mainly the product of conflict in the post-Reformation churches, and was particularly venomous during the 19th century when the Catholic Church in North America was becoming a major force in a previously Protestant society. 

In this book, Stark deals with 10 myths about western Christianity and post-reformation Catholicism, including the Crusades, the Inquisition, Slavery in Spanish America and the advance of science and technology. Stark is not a Catholic, and his purpose is not to defend the Catholic Church but to defend genuine history against bigotry and dangerous ignorance. His method for each myth is simple; he describes the “eminent scholars” who claimed to show how the Church fostered a major social evil, and then turns to modern historians who found that these claims have no historical evidence, yet their studies remain largely unknown or ignored, even in educated circles. Each chapter contains information about these leading scholars. This is an invaluable book that should be compulsory reading for teachers in schools and universities, not to mention journalists. 


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