ICBC General Meetings, News archive 2016

Final statement of the Summer 2016 General Meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference

Please see below issues discussed during the Summer 2016 General Meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference which concluded this evening in Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth.  A statement by Northern Bishops on the UK referendum on EU membership was published yesterday and is available on www.catholicbishops.ie.  Further comment may be obtained by contacting the Catholic Communications Office:

  • Supporting persecuted Christians, refugees and migrants
  • Vocations
  • Appointment of Secretary General to the World Meeting of Families in Ireland
  • Publication of Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia ‘The Joy of Love’
  • Bishops to undertake their ‘Ad Limina’ visit to Pope Francis in January 2017
  • World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, in July
  • Centenary of Cumann na Sagart
  • Trócaire
  • Irish Church Music Association Summer School
  • Ukraine collection
  • Mr Michael Keane RIP
  • Supporting persecuted Christians, refugees and migrants

Persecuted Christians

Bishops discussed the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, an issue specifically highlighted by the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia, which was published on 8 April:

“The persecution of Christians and ethnic and religious minorities in many parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, are a great trial not only for the Church but also the entire international community.  Every effort should be encouraged, even in a practical way, to assist families and Christian communities to remain in their native lands” (AL para 46).

Archbishop Eamon Martin will lead a delegation from the Bishops’ Conference to Erbil in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq in November.  The area is now home to hundreds of thousands of displaced people, mostly Christians and Yazidis, who were forced to flee from their homes in northern Iraq as a result of war.  The delegation will be hosted by Archbishop Warda of Erbil, and it will have the opportunity to meet with communities displaced by conflict and who face an uncertain future in the region.  Trócaire, which has supported relief efforts for displaced people in northern Iraq, will have staff participating in the visit including its chairman, Bishop William Crean.  The delegation will also have the opportunity to meet with UN representatives as well as with other agencies responding to the crisis in the region.

Refugees and migrants

In the context of Ireland’s response, bishops discussed the refugee crisis and the need for policymakers not to close their eyes to the needs of our brothers and sisters currently in dire need in our continent of Europe and further afield.  The numbers of those who are fleeing from war and persecution are on the increase and the level of solidarity is often inadequate.  Bishops reflected further on Amoris Laetitia:

“Migration is particularly dramatic and devastating to families and individuals when it takes place illegally and is supported by international networks of human trafficking. This is equally true when it involves women or unaccompanied children who are forced to endure long periods of time in temporary facilities and refugee camps, where it is impossible to start a process of integration. Extreme poverty and other situations of family breakdown sometimes even lead families to sell their children for prostitution or for organ trafficking” (AL para 46).

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, which is almost the ‘national anthem’ of this Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis, two figures of officialdom turn their eyes away and pass by the presence of a fellow human in distress.  Today our witness to the distress of refugees should be a call to action.  While praising the brave and humanitarian role of our naval service in the Mediterranean – which was again exemplified this week – bishops expressed concern that here in Ireland the process of taking refugees seems to have been allowed to slip to the back-burner of politics, notwithstanding the clear desire and willingness of citizens and communities to commit to a culture of welcome.  Bishops ask that parishes offer special prayers at Mass during June to express their support and solidarity for the plight facing child, women and men refugees.

Bishops also noted with concern the lack of significant progress regarding the condition of asylum seekers in Direct Provision Centres in Ireland and are encouraged to lobby their politicians in the areas where the Direct Provision Centres are situated.  

A Prayer for Migrants and Refugees

Almighty and merciful God,
Whose Son became a refugee
And had no place to call his own;

Look with mercy on those who today
Are fleeing from danger,
Homeless and hungry.

Bless those who work to bring them relief;
Inspire generosity and compassion in all our hearts;
And guide the nations of Europe towards that day
When all will rejoice in your Kingdom of justice and peace.

We make our prayer through Christ our Lord, Amen.

  • Vocations

A major theme for this plenary meeting of the Bishops’ Conference was the discussion on encouraging vocations to the priesthood and to religious life, and on seminary formation.  Bishops announced that there will be consultation at local diocesan level on how best to create a culture of vocations.  Bishops agreed to undertake a national vocations initiative during 2017 in order to promote vocations.  Ahead of his address to the National Vocations Directors’ conference from 9 to 11 June in Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Archbishop Jorge Carlos Patrón Wong, Secretary for Seminaries of the Congregation for Clergy, Holy See, addressed the conference on the challenges facing vocations in the contemporary world.  Archbishop Patrón Wong emphasised the importance of discernment and accompaniment of vocations.  He also underlined the growing significance of a propaedeutic (pre-seminary) period as a vital aspect of priestly formation.  Archbishop Patrón Wong also encouraged the bishops to continue their work on these important issues.

  • Appointment of Secretary General to the World Meeting of Families in Ireland

Bishops welcomed the announcement in the Vatican on 25 May that Pope Francis has chosen The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World as the theme for the ninth World Meeting of Families which will take place in Dublin on 22 – 26 August 2018.  Father Timothy Bartlett has been appointed to the role of Secretary General for the World Meeting of Families.  Father Bartlett is Episcopal Vicar for Education, and the director of public and social affairs, in the Diocese of Down & Connor.  Father Bartlett is also secretary to the Northern Bishops.  The office of the secretary general will be based in Clonliffe College, Dublin.

  • Publication of Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia ‘The Joy of Love’

Bishops welcomed and discussed the publication of the second Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love On Love in the Family), which was published in the Vatican in April.  Amoris Laetitia was informed by two synods on the family which took place in 2014 and in 2015, as well as by submissions from parishioners around the world.  Bishops encouraged the faithful – and those who wish both to deepen their understanding of the challenges facing contemporary families and support the Christian contribution families make to the common good – to read this inspiring and accessible publication of Pope Francis.  The content of Amoris Laetitia will be the core resource for the catechetical preparation of the World Meeting of Families in Dublin.  To date, Veritas has sold 5,624 copies of Amoris Laetitia and it has become a non-fiction Irish bestseller for 2016.

  • Bishops to undertake their ‘Ad Limina’ visit to Pope Francis in January 2017

All bishops charged with the leadership of a diocese are required to make their ‘Ad Limina’ visit to Rome, and this normally takes place every five years.  An Ad Limina pilgrimage is designed to celebrate and strengthen communion between bishops and their dioceses, with the Holy See and with the current successor of Peter, Pope Francis.  Irish bishops have been invited to undertake an Ad Limina visit to meet with Pope Francis in January 2017, and their visit will combine prayer and pastoral planning with representatives of offices of the Roman Curia.  The visit is known historically as the ‘Ad Limina Apostolorum’ meaning ‘to the threshold of the Apostles’ – a reference to the pilgrimage to the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul that the bishops are required to make.  During their pilgrimage, bishops will celebrate Mass in the four basilicas of Rome: Saint Peter’s, Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls, Saint Mary Major and Saint John Lateran. The last Ad Limina visit for Irish bishops took place in 2006.

  • World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, in July

Bishops asked for prayers for World Youth Day which will take place in Krakow, Poland, during 26-30 July.  The theme for WYD 2016 is “Blessed are the Merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5:7).  World Youth Day will provide the backdrop for Pope Francis’ first pilgrimage to Poland and it is anticipated that over two million young pilgrims from around the world will attend this faith and joy filled event.  In less than fifty days, approximately sixteen hundred pilgrims from sixteen dioceses, religious congregations and ecclesial groups will travel to World Youth Day from Ireland.  Feedback from young people in parishes, who have attended previous World Youth Days, has shown how positive this experience has been for them.  Pilgrims have spoken of the joy and energy of the young Church and how connected they have felt with other young Catholics at this international faith gathering.  In many cases the preparation for, and actual experience of, World Youth Day has made pilgrims feel more involved in the life of the Church, has reaffirmed their faith, and has led to many staying active in youth ministry after returning from World Youth Day.

The young pilgrims will be accompanied by Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Bishop Michael Smith of Meath, Bishop Leo O’Reilly of Kilmore, Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry, Bishop Denis Brennan of Ferns, Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare & Leighlin, Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick, Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin, Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan of Waterford & Lismore and Bishop Donal Murray, Bishop Emeritus of Limerick.  On 24 July diocesan groups and delegates from Ireland will attend evening prayer in Krakow. While some of the Irish pilgrims will participate in the ‘Days in the Diocese programme’ throughout Poland in the days preceding World Youth Day, the majority of pilgrims will arrive on 25 July ahead of the opening event on 26 July.  As World Youth Day will be the last international Catholic event before the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, bishops ask that Irish pilgrims travelling to Krakow might encourage international participants to come here in August 2018.

  • Centenary of Cumann na Sagart

Cumann na Sagart was established on 1 February 1916 at the Maynooth Union meeting of that year.  The current president is Father Séamus Heaney PP Delvin, Diocese of Meath.  Archbishop Eamon Martin was the chief celebrant at a Mass held on 6 June in Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, to commemorate the centenary of Cumann na Sagart.  The preacher at this Mass was Bishop Philip Boyce OCD.  During their conference, bishops congratulated Cumann na Sagart on reaching its centenary year and for the excellent work the association has undertaken over the past one hundred years in supporting priests and religious ministering in Gaeltacht areas, in gaelscoileanna and Irish speakers involvement in the liturgy across the island.  Bishops commended the work of the Cumann in providing texts and translations of liturgical and spiritual resources in the Irish language, and in its efforts to awaken interest in the Irish spiritual tradition by promoting the history, literature, oral tradition, hymnody and devotional aspects of the Irish language which sustained the faith of previous generations.  Bishops asked Cumann na Sagart to promote the new An Leabhar Aifrinn (the Irish language translation of the new edition of the Missal) which is expected to become available in 2017, and encouraged each parish in the country to obtain a copy of the Irish Missal when it becomes available.

  • Trócaire

Bishops acknowledged with gratitude the generosity of the lay faithful, priests and religious for their support of the work of Trócaire, the Church’s overseas development agency.  From April 2015 – April 2016 the Irish public donated €25million to Trócaire throughout this period, which included the annual Lenten campaign.  This figure represents a 7% increase over the previous twelve months.

  • Irish Church Music Association Summer School

Bishops offered their good wishes to the over two hundred participants of the 47th annual summer school of the Irish Church Music Association which will take place in Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, from 6 to 9 July.   The 2016 theme will be ‘God, Full of Mercy’ and the programme includes a blend of contemporary and traditional choral pieces with an emphasis on psalms, sacraments and music for the liturgical year in schools.  Bishops welcomed the addition of two workshops at this year’s school, one which will focus on music for funerals, weddings and baptisms, and another focusing on music for special occasions in parish life such as pilgrimages and reconciliation services.

  • Ukraine collection

Bishops expressed their gratitude to the generosity of the faithful across Ireland for the collection of 24 April last in support of the Catholic Church in Ukraine.

  • Mr Michael Keane RIP

Following the recent death of Mr Michael Keane, bishops prayed for the repose of his soul and offered their prayerful condolences to Michael’s wife Jenny and to her family.  Bishops paid tribute to the work of Mr Keane who was chair of the editorial board of Intercom magazine, the Catholic pastoral and liturgical resource.

ENDS

For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444

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