Archbishop Brady leads Irish Bishops in thanking Pope Benedict XVI

28 Oct 2006


28 OCTOBER 2006



At the conclusion of their ad limina pilgrimage to the Holy See, the Archbishop
of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Seán Brady, and the Bishops of
Ireland, today met with the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, in the Vatican.

In a wide-ranging reflection to the Holy Father, Archbishop Brady invited Pope
Benedict to Ireland as well as addressing current issues for the Church and Irish
society, including: economic prosperity; the influence of secularism; pastoral
care and faith development; the Catechism of the Catholic Church; understanding
of the Eucharist; Deus Caritas Est; Northern Ireland; co-operation between Christians
of all denominations; migration; Catholic education; dialogue between Church and
State; child abuse; the vital role of priests, religious, missionaries and lay
faithful; and, a request that the great Irish missionary, St Columbanus, be
proclaimed a co-patron of Europe.

Addressing the Holy Father, Archbishop Brady said: “We thank you for the individual
audiences graciously granted to us over the past two weeks and for the words of
wisdom and strength that you have spoken to us.  We also know that our joy and
gratitude are shared by the Catholic people of Ireland on whose behalf we convey
greetings and heartfelt good wishes.  

“Holy Father, on behalf of the priests, religious and lay faithful of Ireland we
take this opportunity to invite you to come among us in the footsteps of St Patrick,
and your venerable Predecessor, Pope John Paul II.”

Archbishop Brady highlighted the social, moral and spiritual challenges that exist
in contemporary Ireland.  He said: “The influence of secularism has struck Ireland
with great speed and intensity.  Dramatic and disorientating changes are taking
place, which pose enormous challenges for the preaching of the Gospel.  This is
particular manifest in a loss of Christian memory.

“It is for this reason that we have made pastoral care and faith development, in
the context of a new evangelization, a key priority.  Attention is also being given
to the development of a strategic plan for communications and a systematic presentation
of doctrinal and moral themes by the Episcopal Conference.  In the coming year we
intend to host a conference on Deus Caritas Est, your first encyclical letter.”

Archbishop Brady thanked Pope Benedict for his continuing support in seeking
to bring healing to those affected by the painful tragedy of child abuse,
saying: “Holy Father, no issue has received more time or attention from the Irish
Episcopal Conference than the agonising problem of responding to those who have
had their trust betrayed, their lives devastated and often their faith destroyed
by sexual abuse inflicted on them by some priests and religious.  This abuse has
been a source of great scandal and discouragement to the whole Catholic community,
including a great majority of priests and religious who continue to strive to
lives of holiness and selfless service in the name of the Lord.  

“We thank you for the concern you have expressed for those who have been so
grievously harmed and your sensitivity to the impact of this issue on our work
and priorities.  We value your continued support, and that of the various
Dicastaries of the Holy See, in seeking to bring healing to those who have
been affected by this painful tragedy.”

Archbishop Brady also addressed the role of the Church in Catholic education
saying: “The bishops and religious continue to work with the civil authorities
in both jurisdictions to ensure ongoing respect for the right of parents to
have their children educated in accordance with their philosophical and
religious convictions.  We have been particularly anxious to challenge the
view that faith-based education is an obstacle to tolerance and inconsistent
with the demands of an increasingly diverse society.”
Archbishop Brady thanked Pope Benedict for his interest in Northern Ireland
and for his concern for all those who have suffered as a result of violence.  
Archbishop Brady also spoke about the importance which the Holy Father placed
“on the search for unity and communion among the followers of Christ” at the
outset of his pontificate.  In the context of healing and reconciliation being
issues of global concern, he spoke of the contact between the Catholic Church
in Ireland and the thirteen members of the Irish Council of Churches through
the Inter-Church meeting.

Archbishop Brady spoke of the influence migration, particularly from Middle
and Eastern Europe, is having on the Irish Church, saying: “Many of those who
come bring with them a resolute commitment to their Christian faith and a new
vibrancy to their local Catholic parishes.  Providing pastoral care to those
new members of our national family remains a key priority for individual bishops
and for the Episcopal Conference.”

Archbishop Brady thanked the Holy Father for his concern for the welfare and
morale of priests in their vital ministry, for the religious communities in
Ireland, for our missionaries and for the lay faithful.  On behalf of the
Church in Ireland, Archbishop Brady asked the Holy Father to consider proclaiming
St Columbanus co-patron of Europe along with St Benedict, St Cyril and St Methodius,
St Catherine of Siena, St Brigid and St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

Notes for Editors:

* For the full text of Archbishop Brady’s address, Pope Benedict XVI’s address
to the Irish Bishops and background information on the ad limina pilgrimage by
the Bishops, see

* The Bishops’ visit is known historically as the “ad limina Apostolorum” visit –
or “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.

* The ad limina pilgrimage by Irish Bishops to the Holy See took place between
the 16th and 28th October 2006.  All Bishops charged with the leadership of a
diocese are required to make the ad limina pilgrimage normally every five years
but due to the ill health of the late Pope John Paul II, the last such visit took
place in 1999.  There are 26 dioceses on the island of Ireland and all diocesan
bishops are taking part in this pilgrimage.

* The ad limina pilgrimage is designed to celebrate and strengthen the bishops’
communion with the universal Church and with the successor of Peter, Pope Benedict
XVI. The visit involves a series of meetings that combine prayer, pastoral planning
and personal  audiences with the Holy Father.  Today, Saturday 28th October, all
the bishops had an audience with the Holy Father.

* During the pilgrimage the Bishops met with members of the Irish religious and
Irish community living in Rome.  The Bishops celebrated Mass in the four basilicas
of Rome: St. Peter’s, St. John Lateran’s, St. Mary Major’s and St Paul’s on the
following dates:

–    Mass at the tomb of St Peter, Monday 16th October at which the Principal
Celebrant was Dr Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.
–    Mass in the Baptistry of the Basilica of St. John Lateran on Thursday
19th October at which the Principal Celebrant was Dr Dermot Clifford, Archbishop
of Cashel and Emly.
–    Mass in the Basilica of St. Mary Major on Friday 20th October at 4.00pm
at which the Principal Celebrant was Dr Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin
and Primate of Ireland.
–    Mass at the Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls on Monday 23rd October
at which the Principal Celebrant was Dr Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam.

The bishops also concelebrated Mass at the catacombs of Santa Priscilla on Tuesday
24th October at which the Chief Celebrant was Dr Thomas Flynn, Bishop of Achonry,
and on Friday 27th at the Basilica of San Clemente (home to the Irish Dominicans
in Rome) at which the Bishop of Ossory, Dr Laurence Forristal, was Principal
Celebrant. Dr. Patrick Walsh, Bishop of Down and Connor was Chief Celebrant at
Mass in the Pontifical Irish College on Sunday morning, 22nd October. At the
Mass the bishops were joined by the staff and students at the College as well
as members of the Irish community living in Rome and Irish pilgrims visiting the
Eternal City.


Further information:
Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm Communications Officer (087 233 7797)