Bishops invite Pope to visit for 2012 Congress
Pope Benedict has received an official invitation from the hierarchy to visit Ireland in two years time for the International Eucharistic Congress to be held in Dublin.
Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, yesterday revealed the Bishops' Conference formally issued the invitation late last year. If the invite is accepted by Pope Benedict, who selected Dublin as the venue for the international gathering, it would be the first papal visit to Ireland since Pope John Paul II's historic trip in 1978.
Archbishop Martin said the invitation asking the Pope to preside at the Eucharistic Congress in the summer of 2012 had been acknowledged by the Vatican. But he said there was no indication as of yet if it would be accepted by the Pontiff, who will be 85 at the time of the proposed visit.
A separate invitation by survivors of industrial schools for the Pope to meet them in Ireland was delivered on their behalf by Archbishop Martin during this week's summit in Rome, but this has not yet been replied to.
Archbishop Martin was speaking after a private meeting with abuse victims who voiced their disappointment and anger that Pope Benedict had not addressed their concerns and recommendations, including the resignations of all bishops named in the Murphy report.
Archbishop Martin later said he was saddened that the victims felt disappointed about the outcome of the recent two-day summit at the Vatican.
Insisting the Murphy report was accepted by the bishops, he said he was more optimistic than they were that the process would lead to healing, reconciliation and accountability.
Archbishop Martin ruled out resigning as Archbishop of Dublin after the clerical abuse victims claimed "his wings were clipped" by Pope Benedict and the other 23 Irish bishops.
Marie Collins said Archbishop Martin was not as strong as he had been before going to Rome, while Andrew Madden said that Dr Martin "certainly came across as a very different man to the man" he met last Saturday in advance of his trip to Rome.
"I put it to him that he appeared to have had his wings clipped in Rome and that this might go some way to explaining why his fellow bishops seemed so happy on their return to Ireland," added Mr Madden. Maeve Lewis, the director of the One in Four victims' support group, said that while communications had not broken down, she agreed that "Archbishop Martin has changed his stance".
But she added: "It is important to keep dialogue open. Archbishop Martin is the only bishop who is doing so."
The victims were disappointed that the Pope's statement, issued on Tuesday at the end of the Rome summit, had not accepted unequivocal responsibility for the abuse, had not said he fully accepted the Murphy findings and made no commitment to mandatory reporting by church authorities of complaints against suspected offenders to the civil authorities.
They added that Archbishop Martin had not been able to say why these concerns, contained in an open letter to Pope Benedict, had not been addressed; and that he had not said if the Bishop of Galway, Martin Drennan, whose resignation they are still demanding, was right or wrong in saying he had the support of all 24 bishops including Dr Martin.