Press release of the October General Meeting of the Irish Bishops’ Conference

Press release of the October General Meeting of the Irish Bishops’ Conference

At the conclusion of the October General Meeting of the Irish Bishops’ Conference this evening, the following press release has been issued detailing:

  • Pope Benedict XVI’s ‘Extraordinary Vigil’ for all unborn children
  • Letter of His Holiness Benedict XVI to Seminarians
  • Pastoral Letter of Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of Ireland: (i) Year of Prayer and (ii) Apostolic Visitation
  • International Eucharistic Congress in Ireland in 2012
  • Generous response to Trócaire’s 2010 Lenten and humanitarian appeals
  • New Missal expected to be in use in November 2011
  • World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid
  • October is Mission Month
  • Criteria for Catholic pre-marriage courses
  • Mass Cards
  • New appointments: Father Gearóid Dullea, Father Seán Maher

Pope Benedict XVI’s ‘Extraordinary Vigil’ for all unborn children

To coincide with the First Sunday of Advent on 28 November 2010, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate an ‘Extraordinary Vigil’ for unborn children.   Pope Benedict has asked that similar vigils take place around the country.

Letter of His Holiness Benedict XVI to Seminarians

Bishops welcomed Pope Benedict’s letter to all seminarians published yesterday, 18 October.  Issued on the feast of St Luke the Evangelist, this letter was written to mark the end of the Year for Priests (June 2009 – June 2010).  The letter underlines the core elements of an integrated human and spiritual formation for those who will engage in priestly ministry over coming decades.  Bishops commended the letter to all seminarians, seminary staff and clergy.  It is available

Pastoral Letter of Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of Ireland: (i) Year of Prayer and (ii) Apostolic Visitation

Bishops are most grateful to all those who offered their helpful reflections on the Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, published by Pope Benedict on 19 March last, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph.  Bishops recognise the need for “profound renewal” and for “a new vision to inspire present and future generations to treasure the gift of our common faith” (Pastoral Letter 12).

As a first step, bishops encourage all the faithful of Ireland to avail themselves of the Year of Matthew, beginning on 28 November, the First Sunday of Advent, as an opportunity for all to avail of Scripture-based prayer to guide the renewal of the Church in Ireland at this time.

During this Year of Prayer, the faithful are encouraged to recite the Prayer for the Church in Ireland contained in the Pastoral Letter and to take up the Holy Father’s invitation regarding Eucharistic Adoration, the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Friday penance.

Pope Benedict also announced in his Pastoral Letter his intention “to hold an Apostolic Visitation of certain dioceses in Ireland, as well as seminaries and religious congregations.”  On 6 October last, Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop Dermot Clifford and Archbishop Michael Neary, travelled to Rome and celebrated the Mass of the Holy Spirit together with the Apostolic Visitators and Superiors from the Congregation for Bishops and the Secretariat of State.  Their subsequent meeting discussed the organisation of the Apostolic Visitation and the deliberations were positive and constructive.  It is the hope of all that the Apostolic Visitation will assist in purifying and healing the Church in Ireland and will help to restore the trust and hope of the faithful in our country.

International Eucharistic Congress in Ireland in 2012

The Catholic Church throughout Ireland has embarked on a journey of spiritual and practical preparation for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress which takes place from 10 to 17 June 2012.  The theme of the Congress is ‘The Eucharist: Communion with Christ and with one another’.  One of the central mysteries of our faith is the Incarnation. The Son of God took on our human nature and lived our human reality, including our experience of suffering and death.  This means that the Eucharist has something to say about every truly human experience.

Bishops agreed that, as a key moment in the pastoral preparation for the International Eucharistic Congress, a national gathering would take place to coincide with the Solemnity of Corpus Christi on the last weekend of June 2011.  Further details will be announced at the December General Meeting of the Episcopal Conference.

Archbishop Martin, President of the Congress, approved a new Eucharistic Congress Prayer, which is available in English, Irish, Polish, French, German, Italian and Spanish.  The Eucharistic Congress Prayer draws its inspiration from the Gospel story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24) and from the words of the prophet Micah “This and only this is what the Lord God asks of you: to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).  Bishops invite the faithful to pray this new prayer on a daily basis.  A short video reflection based on the prayer, along with other Eucharistic Congress resources, is on

The Congress hymn Though We Are Many, We Are One Body in Christ has been prepared for the Eucharistic Congress by the well known Irish composer Bernard Sexton.

A pastoral programme has been devised by the Eucharistic Congress Planning Committee.  A range of catechetical material is now available to assist on our journey towards an encounter with Christ, to enable a rediscovery and a renewal with Him and one another.  More details are available

Generous response to Trócaire’s 2010 Lenten and humanitarian appeals (figures for each response to date: Haiti €5m; Pakistan €4m; Lent €6m)

Trócaire, the Irish Catholic Church’s overseas development agency, has received almost €15 million in donations through church appeals in the first nine months of the year.  Bishops said “In these very difficult economic times for Irish people we are humbled and so appreciative of this extraordinary gesture of support for Trócaire’s life-saving work.  To date in 2010 Trócaire has undertaken awareness and church fund raising campaigns arising from the emergency response due to the earthquake in Haiti in January, the Lenten campaign and the floods in Pakistan in August.  This support for Trócaire’s mission makes a real difference to the lives of so many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.  Trócaire’s work is underpinned by Catholic social teaching which seeks to achieve a more equitable world for all people.”

Bishops continued “Especially at this time we acknowledge the incredible generosity of everyone who supported these Trócaire campaigns.  These donations are being used to help people secure enough food to eat, to tend their land and grow crops, to deliver their children safely and send them to school.  Donations support communities that are struggling to hold their governments to account and those whose human rights are being violated.  They help those who are marginalised because they are HIV positive and those who struggle to feed their families because climate change has wiped out their crops. They help empower women to prevent them being treated as second class citizens in their homes and by their governments.”

“In major emergencies, Trócaire works through the Catholic Church network Caritas, the world’ s second largest humanitarian network, to save lives and provide relief.  Through its offices in Pakistan and Haiti, Trócaire is working to rebuild the lives of those who are suffering.  Its work would not be possible without the support of parishes, clergy, communities and individuals all across Ireland.  Thank you to each and all.”

New Missal expected to be in use in November 2011

The work of publishing an edition for Ireland has now begun and it is hoped that it will be in use on the First Sunday of Advent, 27 November 2011.

A new edition of the Latin Roman Missal – the book of prayers used at Mass – was published in 2002 (with an amended reprint in 2008).  The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), established by Bishops in English-speaking countries during the Second Vatican Council (1962 – 1965) has, for the past six years, worked on the translation of this new edition of the Missal.  Issued in twelve segments, the draft Missal was reviewed by the Bishops’ Conferences and their consultors.  The final draft received the approval of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Catholics have used our present English Missal at Mass since St Patrick’s Day, 1975.  Our new edition will include the many additions made since then, including Masses for over twenty feasts like St Maximilian Kolbe, St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), St Pius of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), Our Lady of Guadalupe; our National Calendar of Saints with prayers for Mass and the three Eucharistic Prayers added since 1975.

The new edition will also be in a new translation.  Bishops are very aware that this means changes in prayers that have been used and loved for almost forty years.  From early 2011, explanatory material and workshops will be made available to priests and parishes.

A new edition of the Missal provides opportunities for all who take part in the Mass to enhance our appreciation of the gift of the Eucharist and its celebration of the sacred mysteries of the Risen Lord.

World Youth Day (WYD) 2011 in Madrid

Bishops welcomed the theme for the 26th World Youth Day: ‘Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in faith’ (cf. Col 2:7).   WYD 2011 takes place in Madrid, Spain from 16 – 21 August 2011.  Bishops encouraged Irish participation in this international and extraordinary event.  WYD serves as a means for the Church to hear the voice of the youth and for the youth of the World to hear the voice of the Church.  A dedicated website offers registration and other details.

October is Mission Month – 24 October is Mission Sunday

‘Together in Mission’ is the theme and call to all Catholics for this Mission month of October.  Bishops join with Pope Benedict to highlight Mission Month as an “opportunity to renew the commitment to proclaim the Gospel and to give pastoral activities greater missionary perspective.”

Bishops said: “We remember all missionaries but especially our 2,000 Irish-born missionaries who bring the prayers, solidarity and financial help of the Church in Ireland to Christian communities in other parts of the world, especially those in greatest need.  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 24 October next.

“May we remember also those in need in our own families and communities and around the world and we thank in particular the members of the Apostolic Work Society, all over Ireland, who give such valuable support to the work of our missionaries.  ‘Together in Mission’ asks us to live the call of our baptism, ensuring that the Good News is proclaimed as others experience God’s love through the love and concern we have for them.”

Each Mission Sunday we are asked to put aside – for that day – our financial support for our favourite missionary group or project so as to show our solidarity with the younger Churches throughout the world, especially those with the least resources.  A special Mission feature, including the Holy Father’s message for Mission Sunday 2010, is available on

Criteria for Catholic pre-marriage courses

Bishops have drawn up Criteria for Pre-Marriage Courses for the Sacrament of Marriage.  Since the responsibility for regulating preparation for marriages belongs to local diocesan bishops, these criteria may be used by them in their dioceses in improving the quality of pre-marriage preparation.  These criteria are intended to ensure that the full richness of the Church’s pastoral care for marriage is promoted and built up.

Bishops decided that any programme of preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage should reflect, both in its content and process, the Christian understanding of marriage and promote a positive attitude towards marriage.

Bishops hope that these criteria will be understood as an opportunity for all providers of courses of preparation for the sacrament of marriage to strengthen their participation in the Church’s important work of supporting and strengthening pre-marriage preparation.

Mass Cards

Bishops discussed the regulation of the sale of Mass Cards, and, as a support for priests, bishops will publish soon support information on this issue.  Bishops will ask priests to review personal and parish procedures to ensure that they are fully compliant with the provisions of Canon Law.  They are also asking that this information be promoted in parish /diocesan bulletins, notices and on websites.

It is important to be particularly vigilant to ensure that people’s good faith in asking to have a Mass offered for a particular intention would not be exploited by others for profit.  Any appearance of trafficking or profit-making from Mass offerings must be entirely avoided.  The Irish Episcopal Conference reiterated that the practice of having signed or stamped Mass Cards for sale in shops and other commercial outlets be discontinued.

New appointments: Father Gearóid Dullea, Father Seán Maher

Father Gearóid Dullea, Diocese of Cork and Ross, has been appointed Executive Secretary of the Irish Episcopal Conference.  Father Dullea previously worked as the National Coordinator of the formation programme for the Permanent Diaconate.

Father Dullea succeeds Monsignor Eamon Martin who is returning to his native Diocese of Derry from 1 November 2010 to take up duties as the full time Vicar General for the diocese following the retirement of Bishop Francis Lagan.  Bishops expressed warm appreciation to Mgr Martin for his hard work and important contribution to the smooth operation of the Episcopal Conference and especially for his oversight and management of its current governance review.

Fr Seán Maher, Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, has been appointed Chaplain to the Irish College, Paris, with a particular pastoral outreach to the Irish community in Paris.


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