Ireland’s Catholic bishops are planning a major national pastoral conference for September of next year following publication of the exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (the Joy of the Gospel) by Pope Francis last week.
They have also urged the Catholic laity to engage with the consultation process initiated by Pope Francis in anticipation of the synod of bishops on the family in Rome next October and have pointed them to the relevant questionnaire.
In a statement at the conclusion of their winter meeting last night, the Irish Bishops’ Conference said that Evangelii Gaudium “presents us with the task of renewing our understanding of what it means to be followers of Christ and calls us to be witnesses to his message in the world today”.
“That task will require serious reflection and effort in every part of the church: bishops, priests, religious, parishes, schools, families, groups, associations and individuals.”
The bishops urged “the faithful, priests and religious of Ireland” to “be open to the inspiration offered by Evangelii Gaudium, also available at www.catholicbishops.ie, in Veritas bookshops, and at www.vatican.va.”
On Northern Ireland they said “the task of reconciliation requires us to develop a whole new language of understanding and forgiveness. It is our hope that the Haass initiative will make an important contribution to this process at the political level.”
They paid tribute to the work of the late Fr Alec Reid, whose “vital pastoral work behind the scenes helped build peace”.
A delegation from the church’s Towards Healing service for abuse victims told the bishops it was hoped to provide 31,600 counselling sessions in 2014, rising to 37,100 sessions in 2017.