Irish Bishops invite faithful to walk together on Synodal journey

In the week that saw Pope Francis formally open the Synod of Bishops, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Auxiliary Bishop Michael Router, and the Synodal Core Group for the Archdiocese of Armagh, in Northern Ireland issue a pastoral letter inviting the faithful to “walk together” to build a richer and more dynamic Church

By Vatican News staff reporter

In the Pastoral Letter, Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin and Bishop Michael Router emphasize that Pope Francis is inviting the faithful all over the world to come with him “on a journey” as a “Synodal Church”. 

They note that the word synod means “walking together” and “indicates a way of being together as Church and ‘discerning’ how best to spread the Gospel amidst the challenges of life in the 21st century.”

Getting involved

In the letter, both Archbishop Martin and Bishop Router encourage Catholics to  respond to Pope Francis’ call and “set out on a synodal journey in the Archdiocese of Armagh.”

 “We want to involve as many people as possible so that we can harvest the ideas and wisdom of all the baptised and listen to the sense of the faith that is alive in the People of God,” they say. 

“Our challenge,” they continue, “is to discern together what the Holy Spirit is telling us at this critical juncture in our history.”

The theme which Pope Francis has chosen for the synodal process 2021-2023 is: For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission, and both Church leaders express the hope that the “forthcoming synodal process will bring us closer together and help us to recognise that we are united by our common baptism – as members of the Body of Christ.”

Overcoming challenges

They acknowledge that although the faith has been handed on for centuries in Ireland, “we live today in a very challenging secular environment, where, sadly, many people do not know the joy of encountering, believing in, and following, Jesus Christ.”  But they also express the hope that “the life of the Church will be much richer and more dynamic if all baptised Catholics can find ways to answer God’s call and bring a variety of gifts to the service of all.”

Everyone welcome

Both Archbishop Martin and Bishop Router stress no one is excluded from the synodal process and all “are invited and welcome to participate.” They also underline that laymen and women “have a vital role to play.”

The Archdiocese of Armagh over the next few months, will be joining the worldwide synodal consultation, and will soon be inviting the faithful to respond to a number of questions. 

This initial phase will lead to further opportunities for people to participate at diocesan and national level.

Both Church leaders say this is an opportunity for Catholics to “listen to the Holy Spirit and discern what God wants from the Church around the world, in Ireland and in the Archdiocese of Armagh.