Fr Roderic Crowley: 'Congress offers hope of a fresh start for church'
BY all accounts, the International Eucharistic Congress of 2012 was very different to that of 1932, which -- obviously -- I was unable to attend. Numbers-wise, 1932 was a clear winner, though the closing day in Croke Park showed a big increase on the opening day; and it was a day of special celebration and enthusiasm, where modern communications enabled the Pope to be "present", even if the broadcast was not of the highest quality.
Returning from a foreign posting in Africa, as I was, the forecasts for the event contained many aspects of doom and gloom, and the timeliness of the occasion was even questioned. This all seemed to indicate limited expectations for the congress, which the opening Mass seemed only to support due to the limited attendance.
As the week progressed, however, the empty stands filled up as the attendance gathered momentum until the final day when it was an all-Ireland presence. The frequent references to renewal gave the idea that perhaps a new start might be on the way, and the Gaudium et Spes (joy and hope) of Vatican II gave signs of being on the way, as referred to by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.