October 2009 General Meeting of the Irish Bishops’ Conference

08 Oct 2009

8 October 2009

Autumn General Meeting of the Irish Bishops’ Conference concludes in Maynooth

The Autumn General Meeting of the Irish Bishops’ Conference concluded yesterday evening in Maynooth.  Please see below the Bishops’ press release addressing the following subjects:

  • Meeting with survivors of institutional abuse
  • Prayers for abducted GOAL workers in Darfur
  • (i) Prayers for victims of Indonesian earthquake and support for Trócaire aid appeal (i) Mr Brian McKeown RIP
  • Recommendations on swine flu
  • (i) Mission Sunday 18 October 2009  (ii) Fr Aengus Finucane RIP
  • Year for Priests
  • Permanent Diaconate
  • Bishop Fiachra Ó Ceallaigh

Meeting with survivors of institutional abuse
During the Summer 2009 General Meeting of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, Bishops discussed the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Report by Mr Justice Seán Ryan.  At the request of representatives of survivors of institutional abuse, survivors met yesterday with the Bishops’ Conference for a three hour meeting in Maynooth.  Survivors outlined the painful legacy of child abuse on individuals and on their families and condemned the vile acts of abuse which took place.  Bishops apologised for the failure of the Church to prevent abuse of children in its care and for its failure to listen to complaints of abuse. 

Bishops and survivors agreed that yesterday’s meeting was a welcome beginning to a process and that further meetings would follow.  Bishops agreed to establish a dedicated group to liaise with the survivors of institutional abuse into the future. 

After the meeting a joint media briefing was held by Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin and Mr Michael O’Brien of Right to Peace, Mr Tom Hayes of Alliance Support Group, Mr Christopher Heaphy of Right of Place and Mr John Kelly of Irish SOCA.

Prayers for abducted GOAL workers in Darfur
Sunday 11 October marks the one hundredth day of captivity for Sharon Commins, from Clontarf, Dublin and Hilda Kawuki from Uganda.  Both Sharon and Hilda are part of the GOAL team providing assistance to displaced people in Darfur.  Bishops ask that the faithful remember the families of Sharon and Hilda at this difficult time and ask that special prayers be said at Masses this weekend for their safe and immediate release.

(i) Prayers for victims of Indonesian earthquake and support for Trócaire aid appeal (ii) Mr Brian McKeown RIP
– Bishops ask the faithful to pray for the victims of last week’s earthquake in the Indonesian port city of Padang, and surrounding islands, and to give generously to support the current Trócaire aid appeal, see www.trocaire.org.

– Bishops paid tribute to the work of the late Mr Brian McKeown and to his contribution to Trócaire.  Brian died on 30 July last.  As the first director of Trócaire Brian was a key driving force in establishing Trócaire as the dynamic overseas aid agency for the Catholic Church in Ireland.  May he rest in peace.

Recommendations on swine flu
Dr Máirín Boland, consultant in Public Health, HSE East, presented to the Bishops’ Department of Planning and Communications on the subject of the HSE guidance for churches on Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 (Swine Flu).   Bishops discussed this guidance in plenary session and decided that all guidance from public health authorities, North and South, should be considered carefully by each Bishop within his diocese in the interests of public health.

Bishops wish to emphasise that any changes to liturgical practice are of a temporary nature, taking account of guidance from the public health authorities during the H1N1 influenza spread.  Bishops decided that the Sign of Peace may be continued with the option of a bow.  Bishops support the ongoing practice of priests and Ministers of the Eucharist washing their hands and using alcohol gels to sanitise their hands before and after the distribution of Holy Communion.

These temporary arrangements shall be reviewed in light of further guidance from the public health authorities.

(i) Mission Sunday 18 October 2009  (ii) Fr Aengus Finucane RIP
‘Reach Out’ is the theme and call to all of us for this Mission month of October.  Each year Mission Sunday is celebrated throughout the world in order to raise awareness of the centrality of the Church’s call to proclaim the Gospel. 

Bishops said “We remember all missionaries throughout the world but especially our 2,000 Irish-born missionaries serving the poorest of the poor in 83 developing countries.  Let these missionaries, and the many Irish lay volunteers supporting their pastoral work, be the focus of our prayers as we celebrate Mission Sunday on 18 October next. 

“In these harsh economic times, the Young Churches are suffering.  Mission Sunday is the opportunity for the Church in Ireland to reach out in communion to these Young Churches. 

“As we reach out in prayer to all our missionaries and volunteers, may we be motivated to ‘Reach Out’ to those in need in our own families, in our own local communities and those in need in the world beyond our shores.  In doing so, we are living the call of our baptism, ensuring that Mission is alive, that the Good News is proclaimed as others experience God’s love through the love and concern we have for them.”

Bishops paid tribute to the late Fr Aengus Finucane CSSp, founder of Concern, who died on Tuesday.  Fr Aengus was tirelessly committed to the plight of those living in poverty; a commitment he put into practice by establishing Concern with fellow missionaries in 1968.  Through the work of Concern, the international humanitarian organisation, many millions of people have experienced an improvement in their quality of life.  May he rest in peace.

Year for Priests
The Bishops’ Conference will outline a number of initiatives to mark the Year for Priests in the coming weeks.

Permanent Diaconate
In 2010 the Bishops’ Conference will organise a training seminar on the formation of permanent deacons.

Bishop Fiachra Ó Ceallaigh
Bishop Fiachra Ó Ceallaigh, Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin, retired last month and Bishops expressed appreciation for his contribution to the Irish Bishops’ Conference.  Bishop Ó Ceallaigh served the Irish Bishops’ Conference as a member of its Department of Worship, Pastoral Renewal and Faith Development, Chairman of the Irish Language Commission, and as a member of the Commission for Religious and on the Commission on Pastoral Liturgy.   Bishop Ó Ceallaigh was ordained Titular Bishop of Tre Taverne and Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin on 17 September 1994.  He was the first friar to serve as a Bishop in Ireland for over 170 years.


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