Wednesday, 13 June 2012 14:50
Pilgrims from over 120 countries attend the 50th International Eucharistic Congress
DUBLIN (CNS) — The church in Ireland is on the path to renewal, church leaders told pilgrims at the opening Mass of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress June 10.
Welcoming pilgrims from more than 120 countries at an open-air Mass, Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin 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 rain 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 crisscrossing 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 evangelization, 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.”