Second day of congress begins


The president of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress Archbishop Diarmuid Martin paid warm tribute to other Church leaders in Ireland today for the support they had shown him in his role as Archbishop of Dublin.

The second day of the International Eucharistic Congress got underway in Dublin today.

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"Relations between the churches are extremely good here in Ireland," Dr Martin said, "and the amount of personal support I have received from Archbishop John Neill (retired Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin), Archbishop Jackson (the current Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin) and the other church leaders has been astounding."

He said: "We are doing things together. We are, literally, walking together."

Dr Martin also said he was "very pleased" at the increased presence of Orthodox Christians in Ireland which brought with it, its own enrichment.

Dr Martin was speaking at a press conference in the RDS as the Eucharistic Congress entered its second and ecumenical day with the presence of Christians from other than the Roman Catholic tradition taking part among the thousands in glorious sunshine.

At that same press conference the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson said relations between the churches were now "quite organic" and were no longer a case of leaders "meeting and being photographed together".

There was "tremendous energy at the local level while also, without doubt, an element of frustration with the institutions".

Things were "quite fluid and open," he said. Archbishop Jackson will take part in a liturgy at the Congress this afternoon.

Dr Martin said the papal legate Cardinal Ouellett would visit President Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin tomorrow and afterwards would go on pilgrimage to Lough Derg where he would spend the night. On Saturday next Cardinal Ouelette will visit Knock, a day which the Congress will devote to Mary.

Dr Martin will address pilgrims on the role of the church in the modern world before they hear from Archbishop Jackson, Anglican Archbishop of Dublin and Prof William Reville, among others.

An estimated12,500 pilgrims from 120 countries attended the opening ceremony and Mass in the RDS yesterday. Chief celebrant was the papal legate, Cardinal Ouellet.

In his homily, Cardinal Ouellet 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”.

Ireland’s “strong history of faithfulness has enriched not only these shores, but has, through her missionary sons and daughters, helped to bring the gospel to many far-distant shores”, he said.

He knew from his own experience of the last Eucharistic Congress in Quebec city [he was archbishop of Quebec] “that an event such as this brings many blessings to the local church and to all the participants”.

In introductory remarks, Dr Martin said: “Today the church in Ireland rejoices. It rejoices not in triumphalism or external festivities.

“It rejoices in the gift of this Eucharistic Congress which has been attentively prepared throughout the length and breath of Ireland . . .”

The church in Ireland, he said, “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”.

The church was “on the path to renewal. The 50 years since the second Vatican Council have brought many graces to the church in Ireland”.

But he added: “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.”