Irish Church on path to renewal - ArchbishopTuesday, June 12th, 2012
The Church in Ireland is on the path to renewal but it will be a lengthy journey, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin told up to 13,000 pilgrims at the opening Mass of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin’s RDS.
Speaking at the beginning of Mass, Archbishop Martin said that though the fifty years since the Second Vatican Council had brought many graces to the Church in Ireland, those years had also been, “marked with a darker side, of sinful and criminal abuse and neglect of those weakest in our society: children,”
In a gesture of solidarity with those scarred by clerical and institutional abuse, Archbishop Martin offered prayers, “in a spirit of repentance.” Before Mass, the Archbishop blessed a granite rock inscribed with a prayer written by an abuse victim. A small protest by survivors of clerical abuse and abuse at residential institutions run by religious congregations was held outside the RDS.
As President of this year’s Congress, the Archbishop was one of a number of concelebrants with Papal Legate, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, president of the Pontifical Council of Bishops. Other concelebrants included Archbishop Piero Marini, president of the Vatican’s committee for Eucharistic Congresses, Irish primate Cardinal Seán Brady, and Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown.
Pilgrims representing over 123 countries attended the Mass as well as hundreds of prelates and priests.
Archbishop Martin prayed for renewal in priestly life and in religious life and gave thanks, “for the presence among us of great priests and religious men and women who love the Church, who love their calling and who give generously of their lives following Christ.”
The main celebrant, Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec, in his homily also recognised that the Church in Ireland, “is suffering and faces many new and serious challenges to the faith.” He thanked priests for their love and courage, “at this difficult time of purification in the life of the Church.”
Speaking of the Irish Church’s path to renewal, Archbishop Martin said renewal would require a vigorous new evangelisation, a renewal in faith and authentic witness in the culture in which we live.
Among the congregation was a group of pilgrims who had attended the 1932 Eucharistic Congress in Dublin as children.
Before Mass, the Three Tenors, the Ballymun and Maynooth Gospel choirs as well as the Palestrina Choir gave performances. The Eucharistic Bell was rung as Mass began to call pilgrims to become one body in prayer. Bishop Donal McKeown of Down and Conor described the Mass to ciNews as a dignified occasion with plenty of energy about it.
“What we had today was the best of the past in the Irish tradition but we must be a forward looking Church. I hope we can help our young people not to flee to the past but to look to the future because it is solid ground to stand on. As Deuteronomy says, ‘look forward because of what has happened in the past’,” he said.
Monday sees the Congress focus on ecumenism. Among those due to address IEC2012 pilgrims are the Anglican archbishop of Dublin and Glendalough, Rt Rev Michael Jackson; Br Alois Löser, Prior of Taizé and Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk.
By Sarah Mac Donald