2012-06-15 Vatican RadioThe Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin spoke with Vatican Radio’s Emer McCarthy on Thursday. During the course of their conversation, they discussed the ongoing 50th International Eucharistic Congress underway in the Irish capital this week – its present success and its impact on the life of the Church in Ireland and throughout the world for months and even years to come.
Below, please find a full transcript of the interview.
Interview of Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin with Vatican Radio’s Emer McCarthy
- TRANSCRIPT -
EMcC: Has the Congress in any way surprised you – I know it has surprised many of the participants?
ADM: I came here last Saturday – the day before the Congress began – and my first impression was: “this isn’t going to be ready.” Then, I cam back on Sunday – and there was this extraordinary transformation: enthusiasm and interest and – a reflection of the variety of things that are happening in the Catholic Church in Ireland ([and this is] something you do not see, as maybe we should). You see that in the exhibitions, you see it in the conferences. The liturgies have been extraordinarily well prepared. [There is] also this contrast between the activities that are going on and then these areas of prayer and silence. I was very impressed by more than one thousand young people at the Taize evening (Monday evening), when they just gathered in silence and prayer at the end of a very long day. The impression you get is that the Irish Church is growing in a different direction, in a new direction., but that the direction is a healthy one – and I think we are on the right track – but the Eucharistic Congress is for seven days, and you are not going to change the Irish Church in seven days. I think there are a number of signposts that it is indicating, and as soon as the Congress is over we have to start again back, very carefully, at the programme of New Evangelization and catechesis that I think is fundamental. In that, the Year of Faith will fit and match with what we’ve been doing in these days.
EMcC: What impact do you the presence of foreign pilgrims and speakers from all throughout the universal Church has had?
ADM: I think for many, the fact that so many Church leaders and lay people have come from abroad – over a thousand from Canada alone – is an encouragement to Irish people. It’s making Irish Catholics think, to realize they’re not alone in the difficulties they experience, and that they belong to a much larger Church. There is a fellowship among Catholics, which is extremely important. I have asked also – for example – bishops to go out on Saturday evening to different parishes, to bring that same feeling to those who haven’t been at the Congress. In the newspapers, there is a lot of speculation about, “How many people were here on this day, or on that day?” but what they do not remember is that, while there have been events here in the RDS (Royal Dublin Stadium) and the Congress Centre, in every parish there is something happening in these days. There have been Eucharistic processions and events in the larger towns in the country, and down to smaller villages. So, [the IEC] is not limited to what’s going on in the Congress Centre, itself – and the presence of people from abroad – many of whom will say that the faith in the countries they come from owes so much to Ireland – it is good that that be remembered, that it be remembered not just in the history books, but in the lives of individuals who can come and peak about their own experience.
EMcC: Two very important elements of this Conference have been the ecumenical dimension, which was an historic one for the Congress and also for Dublin, and also the taking of the Congress out of the arena and also opening up the churches in the city centre. These were initiatives you very much wanted. Why?
ADM: First of all, I believe that, if we can give, in Ireland, a consistent, a coherent Christian witness of the different churches, it will strengthen our common witness to Jesus Christ in the face of a changing culture. Relationships between the Churches are very strong, but this is the fruit of a process of dialogue with one another, of understanding one another and of respect for one another. The fact that the other Christian churches had no difficulty in accepting an invitation from me to participate in the Eucharistic Congress, even though they may not share much of the theology of the Eucharist, though there may be differences in our theology of the Eucharist, I think, is an important sign, and a sign of the type of dialogue that’s going on. It was – I think – the Church of Ireland archbishop, who said that our dialogue is not just meeting and smiling at one another. We have to move into a theological dialogue, which is important in the process of working toward Christian unity. We also have this ecumenism of solidarity – and [both the current] Church of Ireland bishop and his predecessor (as well as the leaders of the Presbyterian and Methodist churches in Dublin), have been very supportive of my initiatives at a difficult time. Bringing the Congress out into the daily life of people is also an important event. We have this pilgrimage walk – this type of camino – and it’s been quite successful. People have been taken [with] this idea, and we’ve had events in nearly every parish. The Church in Dublin has been on mission: quietly, maybe not as advertised as some people might like, but it has been happening. Even the week before the Congress, we had Mass in eighty-five nursing homes for the elderly, to bring the Congress to those who won’t be able to be here. Also, we had an event for those, who come to our food centres – again, to show that those, who share in the Eucharist, are concerned about the hunger of people, physical hunger, and the loneliness of many of these people, showing that, through our communion with Christ, we bring a different kind of communion with people in the difficulties of their own lives. These gestures – you know – people look and learn from them, and hopefully they will bring a sort of opening, and more reflection – particularly on [the part of] young people – about the faith.
EMcC: Could these possibly be some of the touching points you said (in your opening address to the Congress) need to be established between the Church and wider society?
ADM: I think that – I was reflecting a little bit from the time of Gaudium et spes, which was a time of great optimism, into a time when we realize that the modern world – it isn’t just that the Church has a lot to learn from the modern world, but that the Church has a lot to say to the modern world, particularly when you get down to questions of meaning and hope and purpose in life in difficult times, and to realize that there is a presence of sin in humanity that has to be overcome, and it is people who celebrate the redemption that is present in the Eucharist, who should be in the leadership in bringing a new type of communion. If the Church itself could overcome the petty divisions that are present in the Church in Ireland, I believe it would be a great witness to others, to what communion means in a society – but that real sense of deep human communion will only come when people have a deep understanding, a deep sense of the meaning of their own life and why they’re here – and the Eucharist is the thing that recalls that very much to us.