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Justice and Peace

Who we are

The Justice and Peace Commission was set up by Cardinal Sean Brady in 2011 to involve lay people in reaching out to marglinalised groups.

Current members:

Sr Caitriona Gore, Mary Vallely, Pádraig O’Connor and Brian Lennon, S.J.


[email protected]


Report on Synodal Church meeting at Spring Armagh

12 April 2022

Number of participants: 7; Age: over 60: 6; under 30: 1; Gender: Female: 6; Male: 1


This was the second such engagement with parishioners outside normal church settings. The first in December 2021 in Dobbin St Community Centre focused on Pope Francis and his papacy and his call for a Synodal process. There was general respect for Francis’s more humble approach, endearing him to those who felt the Church was out of touch with ordinary working class people.

We started looking back briefly at how the early church handled the dispute over bringing non-Jews into the community.

This time we focused on three Synodal type questions:-

  • What riches have you experienced in the Church?
  • What negative things have you experienced?
  • What sort of Church do you want?

Riches experienced

  • Faith, sacraments and liturgy:
    • Agreement that the sacraments – Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation – were a source of great nourishment  especially the Eucharist, and its mystery.
    • My faith: it gives me a chance to look beyond this world. `I can’t understand how others live without it’.
    • Quiet contemplation, and the faith I got from my grandmother.
    • `Faith holds me together in bad times. I really value the faith I got from the nuns in school’.
    • Rituals such as lighting candles, the comfort and ritual of funeral rites which the Catholic Church does so well
    • the value of having a young chaplain who could better relate to students in secondary schools was also acknowledged.
    • Being with others in the community of the Church
    • The rosary is a mystery
  • Church in general:
    • The church as a whole is unbelievably out-dated: it’s dry, dusty and inaccessible. I struggle to relate to a lot of things in it.
  • Scandals:
    • The scandals of clerical sexual abuse, the egregious cover up by some of the hierarchy has led to a loss of trust in the institution.
    • The scandals turned me away from confession.
    • How come we didn’t know about it? We must all have had some inkling.
  • Sex:
    • It’s an awful pity that priests who are gay cannot be themselves.
    • Celibacy is archaic. Protestant clergy do better because they are married.
  • The role of women:
    • The ongoing sidelining of women from ministries such as ordination and Permanent Diaconate are completely ‘archaic’.
    • Mary Magdalene being seen as a sinner: who said she was a sinner?
    • I as a woman have a right to be heard
    • Some women hold other women back because they see clergy on a pedestal
  • Clericalism:
    • Clergy being seen still by some as `ontologically’ superior. What’s that supposed to mean? Everyone is equal, and should be seen as equal. Pope Francis is weak on women.
    • All the dressing up done by cardinals: ridiculous in this day and age. Especially the different modes of garb favoured by the hierarchy. These are totally out of keeping with any church founded by the Nazarene.
    • The lack of transparency: where is the accountability?
    • The wealth of the Vatican, the corruption, the overly ornate churches – why do we have such a huge cathedral? Give the church and its wealth back to the people.
    • The lack of a parish hall: it was the people who built the hall, and now it is being left to fall asunder.
  • Liturgy:
    • I don’t like the readings from Scripture at mass: I don’t understood them and they are irrelevant to me. The language is outmoded. They are from thousands of years ago: what have they got to do with us today?
    • The lack of opportunity to gather after mass to socialise and perhaps explain Scriptural readings. This is another failure to engage with people.
    • Confession:
    • Confession is unnecessary: I do my best. I don’t see myself as a sinner, and I won’t let someone else tell me different.
    • It’s wrong to say babies are born sinners

What sort of Church do you want?

  • Church in general:
    • A more humble Church, based in and with the local community.
    • A more  inclusive Church, where no one is barred from receiving the Eucharist, the decision being up to the individual and her/ his own conscience.
    • A need for greater transparency.
    • More masses, prayers services and gatherings to be held outside actual churches in communal settings or even in the open air, taking the Eucharist to the people if the people feel reluctant or uncomfortable in rich ornate settings – as an option of course. This could be a chance to let young people ask questions about their faith.
    • Many of us love the surroundings of our own churches or cathedrals as we feel a sense of continuity and belonging to a place where our ancestors  worshipped and where they felt nourished.
    • A Church which is smaller but where more groups like this will come together to engage, leading to positive social action and where the Eucharist is central of course
    • Priests need to be in schools more often, but talking to young people, not down to them: so it should be more informal.  
  • Clericalism:
    • Do away with the trappings of hierarchical difference such as clerical dress and a call for less ornate churches. Popes and cardinals to give up their ridiculous dress. Get rid of status symbols.
    • On parish trips, why doesn’t the priest offer to push wheelchairs?
    • Clerical wealth:
    • End the practice of priests living in grand houses.
    • The higher they are in the church the more immersed clergy should be in the community. Why doesn’t the bishop come down and meet local people. Actually Archbishop Martin offered to do this, but the local group did not go back to his office to arrange a date.
  • Sex:
    • More acceptance of different sexual orientations. A priest should be allowed to be the person he is. No one cares whether he is hetero or homosexual in orientation.
    • Priests should be allowed to be married.
  • Women:
    • Women to be treated as equal persons in the Church as they are in the eyes of God, and as they were in the Gospels!
    • Women to be ordained.
    • The right to be heard, to be listened to and for those in authority with the power to make decisions which affect us all, to actually hear and to act upon what they hear.

We finished with a prayer and blessing.

“Climate Change AND the Church OR Climate Change IN the Church?”


9 November 2019, Conference in O’Fiaich Library, Armagh.

Speakers: Sean McDonagh: “Climate Change And Ireland”

Dympna Mallon: “Climate Change IN the Church” 

Peter Cassidy (St Mary’s Magherafelt): “IT TAKES COOL PEOPLE TO HELP a WARM PLanet” 

Connell Heaney (St Mary’s Magherafelt): “Make the Ocean Great Again”


SPRING/Mullacreevie Park Armagh women meet with Archbishop Eamon Martin

14 March 2019: in Ara Coeli


The Quiet Revolution of Pope Francis

19 January 2019, Conference in O’Fiaich Library, Armagh

Fr Gerry O’Hanlon, S.J: Talk



Conference on the 8th Amendment in the South and the World Family Meeting

7 July 2018 at the Carrickdale Hotel, Carrickcarnan, Dundalk


Small survey of what people think of the Church

Leaflet with Questions: Download File

Questionnaire responses: Download File


The Church, Women and Authority. Why not?

9 July 2015 Conference in Dromantine

Executive summary: Download File

Welcome and introduction – Rhona Quinn: Download File

Talk by Baroness Nuala O’Loan: Download File

Talk by Fr Gerry O’Hanlon, S.J: Download File


Survey of some parishes

Presentation of findings to Diocesan Pastoral Council: Download File

Consultation Sherry’s Field: Download File