DUBLIN - Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, representing Pope Benedict XVI, met with Irish victims of church-related child abuse.

The cardinal, papal legate to the International Eucharistic Congress, met with the victims of institutional and clerical abuse during a pilgrimage to Lough Derg in Country Donegal June 12 and 13.

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI called for prayers for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress under way in Dublin, expressing hopes it would lead to a greater appreciation of Jesus' self-sacrifice and deeper love and unity in the church.

The weeklong gathering, which opened June 10, is "a precious occasion for reaffirming the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the church," the Pope said at the end of his weekly general audience June 13.

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DUBLIN - As it prepares this week to welcome the Catholic world for the International Eucharistic Congress, the Church in Ireland is showing sparks of renewal following a dramatic loss of credibility over the past decade.

A recent survey by the Association of Catholic Priests found that weekly Mass attendance throughout the country is still one of the highest in Europe at 35 per cent.  The 2011 Irish census indicated 84 per cent of people still self-identify as Catholic.

But problems remain. In the capital, still reeling from a combination of religious apathy, secularism and disenchantment as a result of clergy sex abuse scandals, Mass attendance in some parishes is just two per cent.

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DUBLIN - The weeklong 50th International Eucharistic Congress, which gets under way in Dublin June 10, will be Ireland's largest religious event since Pope John Paul II visited in 1979.

The celebration of faith offers a lively mixture of prayer, reflection and liturgy with participation from some of the leading voices in the Catholic world.

Organizers promise an estimated 12,000 overseas visitors the traditional Irish "cead mile failte" --"a hundred thousand welcomes." Many Dubliners have opened their homes to pilgrims.

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DUBLIN - A new analysis of allegations of abuse made against 98 priests over a 70-year period shows that the alleged abuse peaked in the 1980s.

Fresh data released by the Dublin Archdiocese May 24 showed that 34 percent of complainants alleged their abuse happened in the 1980s. Just 1 percent of claims relate to alleged abuse in the period from 2000 to 2010.

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DUBLIN - A new city center "Camino," or pilgrim walk, has been launched in Dublin as part of the celebrations surrounding the International Eucharistic Congress set for June 10-17.

The walk, involving prayerful visits to seven of Dublin's most historic Catholic and Anglican churches, is partly inspired by the famous pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain and partly inspired by the traditional Dublin devotion of visiting seven churches on Holy Thursday.

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KINGSTON, ONT. - A simple yet dignified ceremony held May 19 on the waterfront of this southeastern Ontario city marked a tragic local anniversary: The death of more than 1,400 Irish immigrants fleeing the 19th-century potato famine.

Ireland’s Ambassador to Canada, Ray Bassett, laid a wreath on behalf of the Irish government in commemoration of the estimated 50,000 Irish immigrants who came through the area in 1847 fleeing Án Gorta Mór, “The Great Hunger.” Of those, an estimated 4,300 arrived in Kingston after contracting typhus on crowded “coffin” ships, with 1,400 dying after coming ashore to what was then a town of only 10,000 residents.

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DUBLIN - Irish bishops said they would support the establishment of a national day of atonement where the church, the government and wider society could seek forgiveness for abuse suffered by former residents of state-funded, church-run institutions.

A spokesman for the bishops said they would not oppose the idea of such an event provided it was "sensitively organized" and not rushed.

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VATICAN CITY - The wounds and divisions within the Catholic Church in Ireland make the upcoming International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin an important moment for renewal and reconciliation, said Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin.

The archbishop spoke at a Vatican news conference May 10 as a growing chorus of voices called for the resignation of Ireland's Catholic primate, Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland, over allegations he did not do enough to stop an abusive priest in the 1970s.

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DUBLIN - The primate of All Ireland has said he will not resign despite criticism of his role in a 1975 canonical inquiry into a pedophile priest, Norbertine Father Brendan Smyth.

In a statement issued in Armagh, Northern Ireland, May 2, Cardinal Sean Brady defended his involvement in the inquiry and accused the BBC documentary "The World: The Shame of the Catholic Church" of making a number of claims that overstated and misrepresented his role.

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DUBLIN - A series of censures has brought to the fore the divisions within the Irish Church between those who seek a leaner and smaller Church that adheres more strictly to the magisterium and those who seek space to discuss Church issues.

Up to 250 nuns, priests and laypeople held a silent protest outside the Vatican Embassy April 29 to protest the doctrinal congregation’s censure of five Irish priests over their stance on issues such as the ordination of women, the ban on artificial birth control and homosexuality.

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DUBLIN - Ireland's parliament rejected legislation that would have allowed a controversial 1992 Supreme Court ruling permitting abortion in limited circumstances to take effect.

The Socialist Party motion was defeated 111-20 April 19.

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DUBLIN - Some 15,000 former residents of state-funded, church-run institutions in Ireland will be able to apply for further compensation for abuse they suffered, the government announced April 17.

The new compensation fund will be financed from the cash contributions of up to $144 million (110 million euros) offered by the 18 religious congregations involved in running the institutions. The government has already paid out nearly $1.8 billion.

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DUBLIN - Three out of four Irish who identified themselves as Catholics find the church's teaching on sexuality "irrelevant," according to new research published by the Association of Catholic Priests.

The survey -- conducted by the research association Amarach -- also showed that almost 90 percent of those surveyed believe that divorced or separated Catholics in a stable second relationship ought to be able to receive Communion at Mass. Under church law, divorced and remarried Catholics who have received an annulment may receive Communion.

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DUBLIN - The Irish Association of Catholic Priests said it is "disturbed" that the group's founder, Redemptorist Father Tony Flannery, is under investigation by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In an April 9 statement, the priests' association -- which represents about 20 percent of Ireland's 4,000 priests -- affirmed "in the strongest possible terms our confidence in and solidarity with Father Flannery, and we wish to make clear our profound view that this intervention is unfair, unwarranted and unwise."

The statement said the group "is disturbed" that Father Flannery is being "silenced."

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