Commemorating Pope John Paul II’s 1979 pilgrimage to Ireland
– A video reflection by Bishop Michael Smith, Bishop of Meath. Bishop Smith was secretary to the committee of Irish Bishops supervising the arrangements for the 1979 papal visit and this committee was chaired by Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich. Bishop Smith also acted as executive secretary of the National Organisation Committee, chaired by Bishop Francis McKiernan Bishop of Kilmore, whose remit was to implement decisions made by Cardinal Ó Fiaich’s committee. Bishop Smith reflects on John Paul II’s life, his rapport with young people, the changes in the faith landscape of Ireland, the beatification process of John Paul II, Bishop Smith’s own memories of the visit and the background to John Paul II being unable to visit the North of Ireland as part of his pilgrimage.
Notes to Editors
- On 28 April 2005 the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI announced that the normal five-year waiting period before beginning the cause of beatification and canonisation would be waived for John Paul II. The cause was officially opened by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome, on 28 June 2005.
- Pope John Paul II visited Ireland on 29, 30 September and 1 October, 1979. Ireland was the third international pilgrimage of his pontificate. John Paul II’s first was to the Dominican Republic, Mexico and the Bahamas, his second was to Poland and his third to Ireland and the United States. Throughout his pontificate, John Paul II undertook 145 pilgrimages in Italy, the final to Loreto in September 2004 and 104 pilgrimages outside of Italy, his last to Lourdes in August 2004.
- A total of two and a half million people attended the seven public venues of his pastoral visit to Ireland, to meet, greet and hear him. The much loved John Paul II had something to say to everyone: laity, priests and religious, the sick, bishops, those of other religions, politicians and especially to young people.
- Karol Josef Wojtyla was born in Wadowice (Krakow), Poland, 18 May 1920. He was ordained a priest in 1946 and appointed Auxiliary Bishop to Archbishop Eugeniusz Baziak of Krakow in 1958. He was designated Metropolitan Bishop of Krakow 1963, Papal Bull for the appointment of Archbishop of Krakow in 1964 and was consecrated Cardinal in 1967. Cardinal Wojtyła was elected Pope on 16 October 1978 as successor to Pope John Paul I. He took the name John Paul II. His pontificate was one of the longest in Church history, lasting nearly 27 years. John Paul II was the 263rd successor to St Peter and the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. Pope John Paul II died at 9.37pm on 2 April 2005 while Saturday was drawing to a close and the Lord’s Day was already beginning, the Octave of Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday.
- The legacy of John Paul II is extensive. His love for young people brought him to establish World Youth Day as a global event for the celebration of faith. At the same time his care for the family was expressed in the World Meetings of Families, which he initiated in 1994. John Paul II successfully encouraged dialogue with the Jewish community and with the representatives of other religions, whom he several times invited to prayer meetings for peace, especially in Assisi. Under his guidance the Church prepared herself for the third millennium and celebrated the Great Jubilee of the year 2000 in accordance with the instructions given in the Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio adveniente. The Church then faced the new epoch, receiving his instructions in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte, in which he indicated to the faithful their future path. With the Year of the Redemption, the Marian Year and the Year of the Eucharist, Pope John Paul promoted the spiritual renewal of the Church.
Martin Long, Director of Communications 086 172 7678
Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer 087 233 7797