A government politician has called for the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, scheduled for June 2012, to be cancelled. She has joined a group of rebel Catholic priests who have also called for it to be called off. Pope Benedict until recently, had been expected to attend.
Over one million people were expected to attend ceremonies around the congress,one of the major devotional events in the Catholic Church calendar.
It was last held in Ireland in 1932 when a million people attended a mass in the Phoenix Park at the culmination of the week long devotion.
Now Senator Cáit Keane, of the ruling Fine Gael party, has voiced her support for suggestion from a group of rebel Catholic priests, calling for the cancellation of one of the largest liturgical Catholic events in the world.
Speaking in the Senate Keane said “I support the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland's request to postpone this event as I believe it is not an appropriate time for an event such as the Eucharistic Congress to take place in this country.
"I believe that everyone will be better served, given the sensitivities around the findings of this report, that it be held at a later date.
"The association has over five hundred ordinary priests as members in this country who are not afraid to speak out on the injustices and wrongdoings in the Church, and we must support their efforts to stand up and be counted."
It had been long believed that Pope Beendict would make an appearance at the congress but relations between Ireland and the Vatican have soured so badly that he is now not expected to come.
Relations are at an all time low in the aftermath of Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s speech on the clerical abuse contained in the Cloyne report and the Vatican recalling the papal nuncio.
Pope Benedict’s planned visit, if it goes ahead, will be the first since Pope John Paul II’s visit to Ireland in 1979. John Paul’s mass in Phoenix Park was a massive success with one third of the Republic of Ireland (1,250,000 people) turning out for the historic event.
The possible cancellation of the Congress and the papal visit is just another sign of the worsening relations between the Vatican and Ireland.
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The Eucharistic Congress was a planned precursor to the papal visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Ireland which has already been brought into question since the recent release of the Cloyne report, into clerical abuse and the cover-up by the Church.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny shocked the world last week by attacking the Vatican’s attitude to the investigations into child abuse in the diocese of Cloyne, in County Cork. The Irish leader said the Holy See had downplayed the rape and torture carried out by members of the church. The Vatican’s response to his attack was to recall its papal nuncio to Ireland, Giuseppe Leanza.