I was unfortunately unable to attend because of my prior commitment to the Belfast City Marathon (to support my fundraising for the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice, this year’s official charity of the Belfast City Marathon, click here), but I’ve read reports of the event with interest.
The two headlines in the Irish Times seem to encapsulate it well:
But if dialogue is what we’re after, for me the most disappointing news to come from the meeting was that:
All Ireland’s Catholic bishops were invited but none attended.
Even with that caveat that, ‘Fr Brendan Hoban, of the association’s leadership team, said he received messages from a few bishops and Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown wishing them well,’ the bishops’ lack of participation does not seem promising.
So is the Irish Catholic Church any closer to an assembly in which there is real and meaningful engagement among people from all levels of the church?
Could such an assembly move the Irish church closer to fulfilling the vision of co-responsibility in the church, as envisioned by Vatican II, in which so-called ‘levels’ are in a sense levelled and all Christians are recognised as equally necessary members of the body of Christ?
It will take more than well wishes to realise that kind of church.
(Image: logo of the Association of Catholic Priests)