Collins' Irish visitation underway

Collins' Irish visitation underway

  • January 13, 2011

TORONTO - Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins will meet with abuse victims and lead a penitential service in the course of a two-week visit to the archdiocese of Cashel and Emly in Ireland.

Collins’ apostolic visit to Ireland, which began Jan. 13, was mandated by Pope Benedict XVI’s March 19, 2010 pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland. Along with Collins’ visit to Cashel and Emly, Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., has visited the archdiocese of Tuam, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, archbishop emeritus of Westminster, England, will visit Armagh and Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley is visiting Dublin. The program of apostolic visitation to Ireland also includes a trip by New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan to Ireland’s seminaries, and a delegation of religious visiting the religious orders.

Collins will lead a penitential service in the Cathedral of the Assumption in Thurles on Jan. 16 at 3 p.m. Thurles is about an hour-and-a-half drive west of Dublin.
All of the apostolic visitors to Ireland will meet with victims, with a particular emphasis on meeting individuals and families.

“They will be received in the same fatherly manner in which the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has on several occasions greeted and listened to those who have suffered the terrible crime of abuse,” said a release from the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

Prendergast led a penitential service in Tuam Cathedral on Dec. 14.

The apostolic visitors aren’t coming to Ireland with a bag full of answers, but “with attentive ears and discerning hearts, to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the local churches we are privileged to visit,” said Prendergast in his Dec. 14 homily, quoted in The Irish Catholic. “We come with the desire to manifest a ministry of encouragement, a zeal for reconciliation, a hope that, as Pope Benedict mentioned in his letter to Ireland, the best of the Irish Church may come to the fore again.”

Prendergast was to finish his visit with a penitential walk up Croagh Patrick, a traditional site for Penitential pilgrimages, Dec. 18, but the event had to be cancelled due to weather. Prendergast will be back in Tuam March 5 to 11, and hopes to climb Croagh Patrick March 6.

Penitential liturgies and acts are part of each of the apostolic visits.

“To recover from this grievous wound, the Church in Ireland must first acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenceless children,” wrote Benedict in his March letter.

All the visitors have agreed not to grant media interviews on the subject until after their reports have been submitted to the Vatican. The reports are due at Easter, April 24.

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