Opening greeting at the 50th International Eucharistic Congress
Dublin 10th-17th June 2012
Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop of Dublin
Gaudet Mater Ecclesia: Our Mother the Church rejoices. These were the first words of the homily preached at the opening of the Second Vatican Council by Blessed Pope John XXIII, almost fifty years ago.
Today the Church in Ireland rejoices. It rejoices not in triumphalism or external festivities. It rejoices in the gift of this Eucharistic Congress which has been attentively prepared throughout the length and breath of Ireland through prayerful reflection on the great Mystery of our Faith: the sacrificial death and the life-giving resurrection of Jesus, present in the Church wherever the Eucharist is celebrated and worshipped.
The Church in Ireland rejoices today in the presence of pilgrims from many parts of the world who witness to the universality of our Catholic faith and who show their faith-filled fellowship and solidarity with the Church in Ireland.
Through your presence, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, we experience our special bond in faith with the See of Peter and we renew our affection for Pope Benedict XVI, successor of Peter.
The Catholic community in Ireland rejoices in the presence of brothers and sisters of other Christian denominations who join with us in prayer reflecting that real – if not yet complete – communion among us through our common baptism.
Above all the Church in Ireland rejoices in the gift of the Eucharist itself, the presence among us of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, given for us, poured out for us, in a sacrifice of love.
The Church in Ireland is a Church on the path to renewal. The fifty years since the Second Vatican Council have brought many graces to the Church in Ireland. The message and teaching of the Council still constitute the blueprint for our renewal.
But those fifty years have also been marked with a darker side, of sinful and criminal abuse and neglect of those weakest in our society: children, who should have been the object of the greatest care and support and Christ-like love. We recall all those who suffered abuse and who still today bear the mark of that abuse and may well carry it with them for the rest of their lives. In a spirit of repentance, let us remember each of them in the silence of our hearts.
The Church in Ireland is on the path to renewal. It will be a lengthy journey. It requires renewed and vigorous New Evangelization, a renewal in faith and in coherent and authentic witness to that faith in the world and in the culture in which we live.
In these days of Eucharistic devotion our aim is quietly yet confidently to rebuild and deepen that sense of communion which is the mark of the followers of Jesus. We pray for Christian parents. We pray for those who witness to their faith in shaping society in education and in working for a truly caring society. We pray for all our parishes and Christian communities.
We pray for a renewal in priestly life and in religious life, as we also give thanks to God for the presence among us of great priests and religious men and women who love the Church, who love their calling and who give generously of their lives following Christ. We pray for all lay people who exercise ministry in the Church.
We pray that young Irish people will be led to know the happiness and fulfilment, the joy and the hope, the call to love and commitment that comes from an encounter with Jesus Christ.
The Church in Ireland is on the path to renewal. The Church is not ours to redesign; it is gift that we receive from the Lord with the guidance throughout history of the Holy Spirit and following the example of Mary and the saints.
We look forward in hope. We do not rely on our own talents. We are sure that in our efforts of renewal we are never alone. The Eucharist is food for our journey, inviting us to emulate the self-giving love of Jesus who gave himself for us.
Gaudet Mater Ecclesia. May the Church in Ireland rejoice, as Lord renews in all of us the joy of our calling to Communion with Christ and communion with one another.