December 2010 General Meeting of the Irish Bishops’ Conference

14 Dec 2010

14 December 2010

Press release for the Winter 2010 General Meeting of the Irish Bishops’ Conference

The scheduled Winter 2010 General Meeting of the Irish Bishops’ Conference was postponed last week due to bad weather.  In its place a special one-day meeting of the Bishops’ Conference took place today in Maynooth and the following issues were discussed:

  • Advent and the Sacrament of Reconciliation
  • Prayers for persecuted Christians and for peace
  • Pastoral Letter of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of Ireland
  • A Bible in every home and Lectio Divina prayer initiative
  • Share the Good News – first National Directory for Catechesis in Ireland
  • National Eucharistic Congress in 2011 and International Eucharistic Congress in 2012
  • Trócaire’s Christmas campaign in 2010

Advent and the Sacrament of Reconciliation
During this season of Advent, the period of preparation for the feast of Christmas, the call to renewal of our Christian life is a central part of this preparation.  In the Sacrament of Reconciliation (or Penance), we receive the gift of God’s mercy and forgiveness.  Its celebration should be an integral part of our preparation for the Feast of the birth of Our Saviour.  Bishops strongly encourage all Catholics in Advent to make time to avail themselves of the gift of God’s love in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Prayers for persecuted Christians and for peace
As we approach Christmas, the time when we celebrate the coming of Christ into our world, Bishops ask for prayers for peace for those in conflict anywhere in the world.  Bishops prayed for, and extended solidarity to, our fellow Christians in the Holy Land.  Bishops called upon the international community to assist in every way possible in order to end violence in the Holy Land and to create conditions that will lead to a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis alike.

Bishops prayed for all Christians around the world who are persecuted and murdered because of their faith.  Bishops remembered those who were killed or injured in the bombing of Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad, Iraq, on 31 October last. That innocent people lost their lives as they gathered to celebrate the Eucharist is a profound reminder to all of us of the risks taken and sacrifices made by our brothers and sisters as they follow Christ.  We should always value our opportunity to worship freely. These victims killed in Baghdad, and in other places because they are Christian, died for their faith.  Bishops offered prayers for the deceased and for their loved ones at this difficult time.

Pastoral Letter of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of Ireland
Arising from the Pastoral Letter of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of Ireland, published in Ireland on 20 March last, bishops discussed:

Reflection and dialogue
After the publication of the Pastoral Letter, the Bishops’ Conference encouraged reflection and dialogue on the Pastoral Letter.  The purpose was to generate awareness of, and interest in, the Holy Father’s invitation to find “a new vision” which would lead to renewal and “inspire present and future generations to treasure the gift of our common faith”.  

Today, through its Council for Pastoral Renewal & Adult Faith Development of the Bishops’ Conference, bishops considered a summary of reflections representing over 2,500 respondents. Communication from respondents centred on the following core themes: Spiritual Renewal; Structural Renewal; Role of Women and on the Church of Community and Communion.

Bishops acknowledged with gratitude all those who submitted reflections and suggestions.  The replies are an important step on the journey of renewal as called for by the Holy Father.

Throughout the Liturgical Year of 2011 bishops intend to promote our acquaintance with the Word of God and in particular the Gospel of Saint Matthew.  It is hoped that the Gospel of Saint Matthew will be the vehicle of a renewed faith in the person and message of Jesus Christ.  For Saint Matthew, Jesus Christ is Emmanuel (God with us, Matt 1:23) who both calls and enables the disciples to follow Him in a confused and conflicted world.

Apostolic Visitation in Ireland
Pope Benedict announced in his Pastoral Letter his intention “to hold an Apostolic Visitation of certain dioceses in Ireland, as well as seminaries and religious congregations.”  The Holy See announced the beginning of the Apostolic Visitation in Ireland on 12 November last.

Bishops ask the faithful to join with them in their prayerful support for the success of the work of the Apostolic Visitation which is intended to assist in purifying and healing the Church in Ireland and help to restore the trust and hope of the faithful in our country.

Friday Penance
Also arising from the Pastoral Letter, Pope Benedict asked us to offer our Friday Penances “for an outpouring of God’s mercy and the Holy Spirit’s gifts of holiness and strength.”  He asked us to offer our fasting, prayer, reading of Scripture and works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland.  In response bishops encourage the faithful to undertake Friday Penance.  Bishops have published a new resource leaflet Friday Penance, in English and Irish, to assist the faithful and it is available on

A Bible in every home and Lectio Divina prayer initiative
Bishops welcome the publication of the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini.Bishops welcomed the recent publication of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, ‘On the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church’, and encouraged widespread reflection on its content and recommendations. The document contains the reflections of Pope Benedict XVI on the themes raised by participants in the Synod, ‘On the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church’, held in Rome in October 2008 and attended by Cardinal Seán Brady and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on behalf of the Irish Bishops’ Conference.

Noting Pope Benedict’s call for ‘a rediscovery of God’s word in the life of the Church as a wellspring of constant renewal’, the Bishops drew particular attention to the recommendation of Pope Benedict XVI ‘that every household have its Bible, to be kept in a worthy place and used for reading and prayer’ remembering that ‘the Word of God is a precious support amid the difficulties which arise in marriage and in family life’ (n.85).  As part of the call to renewal in the Church in Ireland at this time, the Bishops made a special appeal to Parishes to support and encourage families on the Feast of the Holy Family (26 December 2010) and throughout the New Year to acquire a Bible and to display it in a worthy place in their home.  They also encouraged families to use the Bible as a source of renewal of family prayer and of bringing the presence of the Living Word into the daily life of their home.

Bishops also encouraged Parishes to promote the creation of small communities of prayer based on the ancient tradition of Lectio Divina, or ‘Sacred Reading’, as proposed in Verbum Domini. Lectio Divina is a form of prayerful reading of Scripture suitable for individuals or small groups.  It involves reading, meditating, contemplating and then praying in response to a particular text from Scripture.  Bishops also encouraged individuals and parishes to promote Lectio Divina throughout 2010/2011 (Year of Matthew).  Bishops noted the resource on Lectio Divina provided in the ‘Gospel according to Matthew’ publication produced by Veritas for use by individuals and parish study groups as a response to the Year of Matthew.

Share the Good News – the first National Directory for Catechesis in Ireland

Bishops welcomed the publication of Share the Good News, the first ever National Directory for Catechesis in Ireland.  Having consulted widely, and after years of work, the Directory was granted approval by the Holy See.  This is a most significant document addressing in a unified, coherent and co-ordinated manner many of the issues in evangelisation and catechesis that are relevant to the Church in Ireland today.  The Bishops’ Conference will formally launch Share the Good News early in the New Year.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the General Catechetical Directory were important background texts in preparing the National Directory for Catechesis in Ireland Share the Good News.  It is called a ‘Directory’ because it seeks to give direction.  Share the Good News presents a framework and principles for the presentation of the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Addressed to everyone who is engaged in faith development, Share the Good News is a ten year plan for evangelisation, for catechesis and for religious education in Ireland.

National Eucharistic Congress in 2011 and International Eucharistic Congress in 2012
In planning for the International Eucharistic Congress in Ireland on June 10 – 17 in 2012, bishops announced that a National Eucharistic Congress will take place to coincide with Feast of Corpus Christi on the last weekend of June 2011.  The National Eucharistic Congress next June, involving workshops and liturgies, will be celebrated in Knock and in all 26 dioceses on the island.  The National Eucharistic Congress will mark the beginning of the final year of preparation for the International Eucharistic Congress in 2012.  The new website for the 2012 International Eucharistic Congress goes live this weekend and it includes the new Congress hymn by Bernard Sexton as well as pastoral and liturgical resources to support parish communities in preparation for the Congress. will soon be available in seven languages to facilitate global interest in, and attendance at, the International Eucharistic Congress in Ireland.

Trócaire’s Christmas campaign for 2010
Trócaire, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland, has helped hundreds of thousands of people in the developing world through its annual Christmas Global Gift appeal. In the 11 years since the appeal was launched, people across the country have bought almost 700,000 life-changing gifts that were delivered all over the world.  This support directly comes from the generosity of the Irish people.

However Trócaire’s Christmas campaign in 2010 is down by 25% on last year and the agency relies on this income to fund a significant amount of its work.  Bishops encourage the faithful to consider a Global Gift from Trócaire as part of their present-giving this Christmas. It will make a critical difference to vulnerable families, children and communities.  

To purchase a Trócaire Global Gift this Christmas please log on to call 1850408 408 (ROI), 0800 912 1200 (NI).  Trócaire’s Global Gifts are on sale in Veritas outlets nationwide, Avoca stores and in Trócaire centres in Maynooth, Co Kildare; 12 Cathedral Street, Dublin 1; 9 Cook Street, Cork and in 50 King Street, Belfast.


Further information:
Martin Long, Director of Communications 00353 (0) 86 172 7678
Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer 00353 (0) 87 310 4444