Friday, December 25, 2009

Irish church does not feature in papal address

NO SPECIAL significance can be attached to the fact that Pope Benedict failed to mention Ireland and the problems of the Irish church in his annual address to the Roman Curia this week, according to senior Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi.

Addressing the curia on Monday, the pope delivered a lengthy and wide-ranging summary of the “important events” in the life of the church in 2009, touching on his visits to Cameroon, Jordan, Israel and the Czech Republic.

At an event that has long been part of Vatican tradition, Pope Benedict also reflected on the work of the Synod For Africa, on the meaning of Christmas, as well as on the importance of 2010, designated “the Year of the Priest”.

Missing, however, was any mention of Ireland or the negative fallout for the church of the publication of the Ryan and Murphy reports this year.

Fr Lombardi said it would be wrong to attribute any significance to this, saying the pope would shortly be dealing with Ireland in the relatively unprecedented context of a “pastoral letter” to the “faithful in Ireland”.

“This speech is . . . not intended as a speech that will cover all the events of the year . . . As for Ireland, the pope will have plenty to say about the Irish church in his forthcoming pastoral letter to the Irish faithful. You will have plenty to reflect on in that document.”

Fr Lombardi also said the speech to the curia was addressed to the “universal church”.

“It’s obvious that the Irish church’s problems are very serious, there is a very dramatic situation there. However, this is really the specific problem of one country.”

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