Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's a privilege to be invited to Congress (Comment)

The International Eucharistic Congress 2012 has been welcomed across the churches in Ireland. 

Although primarily and rightly designed for members of the Roman Catholic Church, this Congress is special as it has sought, from the beginning, to involve and incorporate members of churches other than the Roman Catholic Church in its shaping and development.

One of the very first letters which I received on my appointment as Archbishop of Dublin was from Archbishop Martin inviting me to preside at the opening Act of Worship of the Congress.

Not only was this a privilege, but it has enabled the archbishop and me to develop a friendship of such a quality that we co-operate instinctively on a broad range of issues with a combination of adventure and respect.

The Pilgrim Walk, which is part of the Congress, incorporates seven city-centre Dublin churches, one of which is the majestic parish church of St Ann's on Dawson Street, a flagship church of the Church of Ireland diocese.

This inclusion is vitally important to us, as we feel involved in a walk of faith which is inclusive and open to all traditions. It is a contemporary walk of exploration and of devotion.

The Congress embraces generously the theme of communion, admitting fairly and squarely that communion is too often a shorthand term for Eucharist. 

During the week of the Congress, we are given every opportunity to explore communion as an enrichment of the life of the individual and of the community, by the widening and deepening of our understanding of this word of belonging.

Communion ties us into the divine Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

But it also binds us more closely to our neighbours and pushes out the boundaries of identity to force the pace of our engagement with those beyond our own comfort zone.

In this way, the Eucharistic Congress 2012 has already done a tremendous service to the totality of Irish Christianity. My hope is that it will have the same creative effect on those who travel from abroad to Ireland in order to be participants.

I wish the Congress everything that is best. From first-hand experience, I am fully aware of the time and energy which has been spent on preparation and organisation.

My understanding is that there has been a genuine and a sustained attempt to include all traditions in this hugely significant international gathering. Each day brings with it something new and different.

There are surprises galore and lots of scope for enjoyment as well as enrichment. 

I urge everyone to pray for its well-being and success. I encourage all who can to attend and to be transformed by the experience.

* Michael Jackson, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, May 2012

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