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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DUBLIN - Europe today is a culture in which God appears to be "silent and unmissed in the lives of many" the Irish bishops warn in a new pastoral letter issued March 29.

The 12-page document, "Repent and Believe the Good News," deals with the importance of repentance for the Irish Catholic Church.

In their discussion of the European context in which the Irish church is forging its path, the bishops said that today there are "many spheres of life in which even believers rarely recognize the relevance of the Gospel."

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VATICAN CITY - A Vatican-appointed investigation of the church in Ireland recognized serious shortcomings in the handling of accusations of the sexual abuse of minors, yet found that bishops, clergy and lay faithful are doing an "excellent" job in creating safe environments for children today.

The investigators found that Irish bishops need to update their child protection guidelines, establish "more consistent admission criteria" for seminarians, and formulate policies on how best to deal with clergy and religious accused of abuse.

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI blessed and rang the official International Eucharistic Congress bell, which has been on tour across Ireland for nearly a year, in preparation for the world meeting in June.

An Irish delegation, led by the 2012 congress president Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, presented the Pope with the small brass bell before the start of his weekly general audience March 14. Before the Pope was driven into St. Peter's Square, he met with the delegation and rang the bell.

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DUBLIN - Cardinal Sean Brady said the Catholic Church will cooperate fully with a government-led investigation into institutional abuse being launched in Northern Ireland.

A similar inquiry in Ireland -- the Ryan Commission -- reported in 2009 and found that physical abuse was widespread and sexual abuse was endemic in many institutions for boys run by members of religious congregations.

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VATICAN CITY - The International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin will be characterized by humility, moderation and a renewed focus on the Eucharist as the source and nourishment of unity in the church, said the president of the Vatican committee charged with overseeing the gathering.

Archbishop Piero Marini, president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, said the congress June 10-17 will reflect that this year is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, but also that Catholics in the host country, Ireland, are still reeling from the clerical sex abuse scandal and are engaged in a process of repentance and reform.

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DUBLIN - Organizers are encouraging parishes and communities across Ireland to use the feast of St. Patrick -- March 17 -- to intensify preparation for the International Eucharistic Congress.

Their initiative, Ring for Renewal, "invites people to pause for a moment in their day to ring a bell on St. Patrick's Day and reflect on how they can be renewed as individuals and members of the church as they prepare for the congress," said Father Kevin Doran, congress secretary-general.

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