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Irish Church is on the path to renewal, Church leaders tell pilgrims

By on Monday, 11 June 2012

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin talks with choir members before the opening Mass (CNS photo)

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin talks with choir members before the opening Mass (CNS photo)

The Church in Ireland is on the path to renewal, Church leaders told pilgrims at the opening Mass of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress on Sunday.

Welcoming pilgrims from more than 120 countries at an open-air Mass, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said: “The Church in Ireland rejoices today in the presence of pilgrims from many parts of the world who witness to the universality of our Catholic faith and who show their faith-filled fellowship and solidarity with the Church in Ireland.”

Ominous-looking clouds that had threatened proceedings receded as pilgrims began to arrive for the Mass. Delegates from the four provinces of Ireland carried their county flags and symbols of Ireland’s Christian heritage which, pilgrims were reminded, goes back to St Patrick and the fifth century. The congregation clapped and cheered as a young man spoke of Ireland’s faithfulness to the Mass during centuries of persecution in which many priests and Catholics were martyred.

International visitors took an opportunity to toll the Congress bell and “ring for renewal”. The bell has been criss-crossing the country over the past two years and an estimated 250,000 people have rung it as a concrete symbol of hopes for renewal.

In his homily, the papal legate, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, prayed the Congress would “bring a special blessing to Ireland at this turbulent time”.

He noted how “the Church in Ireland is suffering and faces many new and serious challenges of the faith”.

He continued that “well aware of these challenges, we turn together to our Lord, who renews, heals and strengthens the faith of his people”.

Archbishop Martin told the 12,500 pilgrims gathered on a rugby pitch that “the Church in Ireland is on the path to renewal. It will be a lengthy journey. It requires renewed and vigorous new evangelisation, a renewal in faith and in coherent and authentic witness to that faith in the world and in the culture in which we live.

“The 50 years since the Second Vatican Council have brought many graces to the Church in Ireland. The message and teaching of the Council still constitute the blueprint for our renewal,” he said. However, he added that “those 50 years have also been marked with a darker side, of sinful and criminal abuse and neglect of those weakest in our society: children, who should have been the object of the greatest care and support and Christ-like love.

“We recall all those who suffered abuse and who still today bear the mark of that abuse and may well carry it with them for the rest of their lives. In a spirit of repentance, let us remember each of them in the silence of our hearts,” he said.

While the mood was decidedly upbeat and celebratory during the Mass, one point in the liturgy was designated to remember and seek forgiveness from those who had been abused by priests and religious.

Officials unveiled a “healing stone” engraved with a prayer originally used in the Liturgy of Lament celebrated in Dublin’s pro-cathedral in February 2011.

The prayer, which was sent to Archbishop Martin by a survivor of abuse, reads: “Lord, we are so sorry for what some of us did to your children: treated them so cruelly, especially, in their hour of need. We have left them with a lifelong suffering. This was not your plan for them or us. Please help us to help them. Guide us, Lord, Amen.”

Following consultation, including abuse survivors, it was agreed the stone would be an appropriate symbol for the Congress.

Fr Kevin Doran, secretary-general of the Congress, said: “Stone speaks of permanence. To say something is ‘carved in stone’ is to say that it is here to stay rather than just a passing thought. The stone represents the firm determination to work for healing and renewal.”

Musical performers included Ireland’s The Three Tenors and the Palestrina Choir, which sang at the open-air Mass in 1932, the last time the International Eucharistic Congress was held in Ireland.

Mary McConville, 91, attended the 1932 Congress as a child and said she was delighted to attend the 2012 event.

“I remember the excitement of it when I was 11 years old as if it was yesterday,” she said.

“It is absolutely amazing to be here today. I have as much faith in the Church now as I ever had. This is a marvellous occasion,” she said.

Referring to the Irish missionary tradition, Cardinal Ouellet said that Ireland’s “strong history of faithfulness has enriched not only these shores, but has, through her missionary sons and daughters, helped to bring the Gospel to many far-distant shores”.

The former Archbishop of Quebec said he knew from his own experience as host of the 2008 International Eucharistic Congress “that an event such as this brings many blessings to the local Church and to all the participants”.

John Walsh, who travelled with his wife and five children to the Congress from the west of Ireland, said it was “great for my children to see this beautiful celebration of faith and share their Catholicism with people from all over the world who have come to Dublin”.

Mary Ward of Dublin also noted the international attendance.

“We really are a global Church, we can learn a lot from others,” she said.

Concelebrants at the Mass included Archbishop Martin, who serves as Congress president, Archbishop Piero Marini, president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, Cardinal Sean Brady, primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Robert Le Gall of Toulouse, France, Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan and US Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem.

  • Parasum

    “Irish Church is on the path to renewal, Church leaders tell pilgrims”

    ## And the moon is made of green cheese supplied by flying pigs.

    What parallel universe in a dimension far, far, away are these people living in :(

  • licjjs

    Is it not a strange oversight on the part of the planners of the Eucharistic Congress to choose a week when one group of the young people of Ireland are engaged in their Leaving Cert exams while another group is absent, avidly following Euro 2012? 

  • Recusant

    A healing stone? Sweet Mother Of God, pray for us.

  • teigitur

    The Church in Ireland are experts in oversight, and downright shortsightedness. Nothing has changed.

  • An Exile

    Now, let us have a little charity, contributors.  You have lots of good priests and good people in Ireland.  A little humility, a word of thanks to God will create more healing and blessings than you can ever imagine.  Try it yourself first, then perhaps others you disagree with will follow your good example…

  • hunhsa700

  • renming328

  • Pastizzi56

    At this significant time, you the hierarchy and man gifted with the priesthood and all those in consecrated life and all the people that with you make up the church, when you are gathered to celebrate the sacrament of love forget all the negative comments and look ahead with courage and above all a lot of humility.

    Please leaders in the church do not take such loyalty of the faithful for granted. It is time that you promise to renew your pastoral approach to all the people especially the victims of sexual abuse.

    Healing and renewal is now written factually in stone. However this stone is not the end but the beginning of this healing and renewal process. Celebration of the Eucharist over, the work should begin in earnest to see this process taking place all over your beatiful country once such a solid and genuine  witness to the Catholic faith.


  • Nat_ons

    There are indeed signs of renewal in spirit, or at least of long overdue restoration of orthodoxy – not quite the same thing. Sadly the Eucharistic Congress, as portrayed by the church to RTE .. and hence the world .. is really the same old same old ‘spirit of Vatican II’ excuse for hippy-hippy-shake make-it-up-as-you-go-alone me-centred-worship i.e. the Age of Aquarius (wearing a soutane). So, while the press suggest that a tiny (and skewed) poll of 1000 voters do not believe in ‘transubstantiation’ but in a vague transformation sic or the symbol of a spiritual change at the Eucharist .. not the Sacrament of Christ’s Thanksgiving sacrifice, changed according to his word, in reality, substance and truth .. not one word of teaching on the Faith is delivered; only the message that ‘we are not a threat to libertine modernism’, ‘we are not triumphalistic reactionaries’, ‘we are not anti-D-I-Y, protestantising, oecumenical pantheism’ comes across .. in public. 

    The reality of spiritual renewal in faith, substantial restoration of orthodox practice, and a true rejection of the Age of Aquarius is at work .. even with grudging episcopal approval. At the moment it is locked in a dark corner marked ‘heritage: only for occasional show (if absolutely necessary)’. Still, there is hope, not only in so called traditionalist or conservative circles, but even in the ordinary run of things .. thanks be to God (if not the Irish hierarchy and cabal of of Irish Priest’s and Magisterium of Nuns).

  • beimabao

  • Guest2345

    The 4 Irish bishops or archbishops criticised in the Irish College report by Cardinal Timothy Dolan should consider their positions. Alas this also includes Dairmud Martin who handed over abuse files to the Garda. Perhaps he was ambitious in wanting to remove Brady so that he could be the Primate of all Ireland. But he did not escape criticism himself.

  • Ga464

    The Pope said its was a “mystery” why the Irish abuse scandal happened. The man contradicts himself. Again that statement aims to side with the priests and their equally errant bishops rather than with the victims.

    On the leaking of Vatican documents however the Pope is to be trusted. He has been in the Vatican since 1981. After 30 years he knows VERY WELL how the place works and which cardinals and administrators to trust. So he still has a credible team which he chose and can fire anytime should he be so displeased. Maybe people are truning to drive a wedge between him and his people, especially between him and Cardinal Bertone. They will survive intact.

    Though what did worry me was a video which showed the Pope in the Vatican gardens with Bertone in a “meeting” or discussion. Only thing it seemed like a monologue as Bertone was talking most of the time and gesturing and the Pope merely listening…Not that worried me a lot. My first instinct was to think WOW why did they upload that and to wonder out loud who was in charge and who was the Pope? Check out the video. See and judge for yourselves…. To me it looked like the Pope could be manipulated big time as ADMINISTRATION is not his strong point as he is a professor theologian.