Pope Benedict won’t visit Ireland for Eucharistic Congress
Won't attend the Congress despite its 50th anniversary
Although Pope Benedict is actively considering an invitation to Ireland, he is not expected to travel this year, despite the 50th international Eucharistic Congress being held in Dublin in June.
In contrast to Pope John Paul II’s 1979 visit, when a million people attended opening day ceremonies in Dublin, Irish bishops fear a disastrous downfall in attendance for a papal visit this year due to clerical sexual abuse scandals in Ireland.
It is also believed that the church authorities in Ireland are concerned that a visit by Pope Benedict could spark wide-scale protests and detract from the Congress’s program of events.
Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said the Irish church is not ready for a new papal visit.
It had initially been hoped that Pope Benedict would attend the Eucharistic Congress.
But Martin indicated that such a trip was unlikely this year, despite Pope Benedict’s consideration and his wish that he travel to Ireland sooner rather than later. Martin highlighted a number of problems that have arisen, including the Pope’s reduced traveling schedule owing to his age.
The archbishop also said a visit was unlikely until the “healing process” for victims of clerical sexual abuse is completed.
After celebrating a Mass to mark World Day of the Sick, Martin said, “The Pope is in his 80s, his travel will have to be reduced and there’s a very big event on the week beforehand to which he is certainly going, so we'll just wait and see.”
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Martin also said the Pope’s arrival depended on how far along the process of healing had gone. There were “still many steps to be taken.”
He added, “It would require a lot of work, ensuring that people who feel wounded by the church would have the opportunity for healing, and I don’t think this would be something that was imposed.”
Pope Benedict has personally told Martin that he was open to coming for the Eucharistic Congress and would give it “serious consideration.”
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