Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Taoiseach remains silent after meeting with pope

TAOISEACH ENDA Kenny’s encounter with Pope Benedict XVI at Castel Gandolfo on Saturday passed off without any significant exchange between the two men.

Mr Kenny had attended the papal audience as part of a delegation from the Centrist Democrat International (CDI) group, which held a two-day meeting in Rome.

Still tired from his pastoral visit to Lebanon last week, the 85-year-old pontiff kept the audience brief, preferring to pose with the CDI delegation for a group photograph rather than exchange individual greetings with the 100-plus group.

Among those who attended the audience along with the Taoiseach were Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras, Albanian prime minister Sali Berisha and the spokesman for the Syrian National Transitional Council, George Sabra.

The Taoiseach had nothing to say to the waiting Irish media, given that he had had no significant exchange with Pope Benedict. 

On this, his first meeting with the pontiff since his stinging criticism of the Holy See in the Dáil last summer, many had wondered if there would be any further “dialogue” with the pope on the clerical sex abuse issue. However, in the context of a group meeting, that had never seemed a realistic possibility.

A Government spokesman said Mr Kenny had not spoken to the media after the papal audience because there was nothing to say.

The Taoiseach, he said, had attended as part of a group of European political leaders.

“He did not shake hands with the pope, nor did he speak to him,” he added. “The Taoiseach made it clear before the meeting that he would not have an opportunity to speak to the pope.”

In his address to the CDI (ex-Christian Democrat) group, the pope stressed the importance of the involvement of Christians in society, calling on them to act with “a prophetic spirit” in the face of an “increasingly serious” and complex economic situation. In particular, Christian politicians must be “strong enough to provide coming generations with reasons for living and hoping”.

Arguing that the family, “founded on marriage”, constitutes the “basic cell of society”, the pope called for protection of life: “The commitment to respecting life . . . and the consequent rejection of procured abortion, euthanasia and any form of eugenics is in fact interwoven with respecting marriage as an indissoluble union between a man and a woman.”

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