2012-06-12 Vatican RadioPope Benedict XVI’s personal representative at the 50th International Eucharistic Congress is on a pilgrimage of penance to Irelands’ historic sanctuary Lough Derg, at the express request of Pope Benedict XVI, to pray for forgiveness, reconciliation and healing in the wake of the sex abuse scandal in Ireland.
Before the Eucharistic celebration Tuesday, dedicated to Communion in Marriage and the Family, the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin informed the biggest congregation to date in the RDS Arena that Papal Legate Cardinal Marc Ouellet was not present because he had undertaken a pilgrimage to the island known as St. Patrick’s purgatory or Station Island which has been traditionally receiving pilgrims continuously for well over 1000 years.
Earlier Tuesday morning , the issue of abuse, how it has damaged the communion of the Church and undermined the integrity of the Body of Christ was also the subject of an extensive talk by visiting Archbishop Luis Tagle of Manilla in the Philippines.
Speaking to an overcrowded hall, the leading theologian offered an in-depth analysis on the crisis, regarding the Church in Asia, however as he progressed many present recognized universal similarities.
Archbishop Tagle diagnosed the problem in cultural, pastoral and legal terms but also offered some responses: “Pastoral care to the victims and their families, the hurting communities where the violation has taken place; the priest offender who must be helped by being made to face up to the truth and its consequences; the priest offenders’ family who also suffer the burden of guilt and non-offending clergy” whom he said are on the front line of public reaction. “Christian faith impels integrity” he concluded, “as a family, a Church that loves and protects children is a force of love” for all the world. When the floor opened for the public’s response Archbishop Tagle was greeted with prolonged applause.
Later Tuesday afternoon, the focus returned to marriage and the family, with a very clear and perhaps for some, surprising, message for participants Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Andrè Vingt-Trois.
Speaking before the biggest congregation to be drawn yet to the RDS main Arena, he said Christian families needed to stop acting like a “threatened species”, and instead bear “witness to the greatness of the family as the stable union of a man and a woman before those who believe and those who don’t”.
The French Cardinal urged Christian families not to “vie with other messages competing for the public’s attention” but starting from the Sunday Eucharist, bear witness to God’s love in the world. “If we fail in this”, he concluded “then Christ’ light will remain invisible, however loudly we speak on the public square, on the radio or on the television”.
His message was further underlined by the 100’s of stalls dotted around the arena dedicated to all aspects of family; from counseling services for marriages in difficulty to family support and child care. As well as a special stand dedicated to grandparents and the elderly.
But it was perhaps the pervasive theme of the day was best summed up by Dublin native, mother, teacher and journalist Breda O'Brien :"Our churches homes need to be places of welcome like Jesus and he didn't just welcome friends”. Listen to Emer McCarthy's report