Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Pope ‘unlikely’ to visit due to abuse fallout

The Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said it is unlikely Pope Benedict XVI will attend this summer’s International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin because of the ongoing fallout of clerical sexual abuse scandals in Ireland. 

Dr Martin indicated that a Papal visit to coincide with the Congress would be premature against a background of the strained relationship between Ireland and the Vatican following recent reports which were highly critical of the Church’s handling of child abuse controversies.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio, Dr Martin said the Pope had been invited to attend the Congress but that he had not yet formally responded to the invitation.

However, he said the timing of any Papal visit would have to fit into the overall programme and timetable of the Church’s renewal in Ireland.

"Short-circuiting that renewal process probably would not bring the fruits that a Papal visit would bring," said Dr Martin, adding that he did not personally believe that the Church in Ireland was "at that stage yet".

The archbishop pointed out that the results of an apostolic visitation by senior Vatican personnel to Ireland last year in the aftermath of the damning reports on clerical sex abuse in the dioceses of Dublin and Cloyne were still awaited.

It is also believed that the Church authorities in Ireland are concerned that a visit by Pope Benedict could spark wide-scale protests and detract from the Congress’s programme of events.

Dr Martin said that the Congress, which will be held in Ireland for the first time since 1932, represents a chance for the Catholic Church to oversee a wider renewal of faith.

The official programme of events for the 50th Congress, which takes places on June 10-17, was released yesterday.

It is expected that 25,000 visitors, half of whom will come from overseas, will attend a range of events each day, including workshops, keynote addresses and liturgical celebrations.

Pilgrims from more than 95 countries have already registered to attend the Congress, which will have a theme of ‘The Eucharist: Communion with Christ and with one another.’

The highlight of the week’s events will be an open-air mass attended by 80,000 people, entitled Statio Orbis, which will be held in Croke Park on June 17.

Most events will be held at the RDS in Ballsbridge, which will also host a Eucharistic Village and exhibition.

No comments: