2012-05-10 Vatican RadioHow can the International Eucharistic Congress help bring Irish Catholics back to the sacramental life of the Church? According to the Archbishop of the host diocese, Msgr. Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, by showing them the joy of celebration: “I see a willingness in some people to want to celebrate something different in the Irish Church and actually to use the word ‘celebrate is important”. Emer McCarthy reports Listen:
Speaking to Vatican journalists Thursday as he launched the 1 month countdown to the beginning of the 50th edition of the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC2012), Archbishop Diarmuid Martin directly answered questions over the divisions that currently beleaguer the Irish Church. But he said none of these should overshadow what really is the most pressing challenge in the Church in Ireland: the challenge of bringing Christ to people. This he said will require new pastoral tools and in this sense preparation for Congress has been a learning experience.
The divisions the Archbishop referred to in his address to journalists have a range of causes: the ever present reality of the child sex abuse scandal; the results of the Apostolic Visitation; dialogue with the Association of Catholic Priests; the Churches ongoing journey of internal renewal and the resulting tensions these create within the community.
“The overall crisis of the Church in Ireland isn’t about the child sexual abuse, it isn’t about any one individual it is a much deeper challenge. They are just symptoms of an underlying cause”. Secularisation is there, the Archbishop stated, “and has been there for some time, though it may have surprised some people”.
The leader of Ireland’s largest diocese also spoke of the weekly protests outside Dublin’s pro-Cathedral, however he added that there is a gradual change taking place: “Even in the secularised Ireland there is a recognition that this is an important event for the Catholic Church, that others should respect. And something that they are watching to see what image often Catholic Church will emerge from that”.
The Archbishop said: “The Church in Ireland shouldn’t be associated with problems. It is renewing itself, it is a dynamic Church there are many things happening in the Irish Church. And this Eucharistic Congress I hope will be a moment when we hope to showcase all of those”.
“Like the Congress itself,” he continued “the Irish Church of the future will be a much different type of Church it will be more modest in its dimensions and in its role. It will be and is perhaps today in many ways a minority Church, but that doesn’t mean that its an irrelevant Church. The Church has to learn to present its message toady in Ireland in a secularised society in a different way. The IEC2012 is an example if you look at the program you’ll see this”.
“We have to - and this is a big one in Ireland - we have to really look at how we involve people in the preparation for the sacraments and how to understand them not just as social events but ecclesial realities”
“I remember the first words of Pope John in his wonderful homily during the Second Vatican Council and they were Gaudet Mater Ecclesia!, Mother Church Rejoice!, we have to regain a little bit of that. Pope John in that same homily[…] he spoke about the prophets of doom who see only gloom and frustration in what’s happening. The Church has always gone through this process of having to renew itself and this [the Congress] is not going to be the definitive event, but it is a contribution”.
“In the early Christian community, there was the Word, the Eucharist and charity and communion among Christians they were generous with each other and with others”. Learning from the example of the early Christian community he concluded “can help create a particular lifestyle […] if the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin can make even a modest contribution to that, we’ll have done something”
IEC2012 is taking place in Dublin Ireland June 10-17, and all information on registration and events can be found by visiting the website www.iec2012.ie