The Pope will celebrate Mass in The Phoenix Park in Dublin for the first time in nearly 40 years
During the two day visit he will celebrate the Final Mass of the World Meeting of Families on Sunday 26 August
Fundraising has already started to meet the estimated 20m cost of the visit, the first Papal visit to Ireland in nearly 40 years. Some 10m is understood to have been raised already, largely through US donations.
It will be only the second visit by the Pontiff to Dublin, he did a brief English language course with the Jesuits in Ranelagh in the early 1980s when he was Cardinal Mario José Bergoglio of Buenos Aires. Before this visit Pope John Paul ll was, in 1979, the first and only Pope to visit Ireland. The late Polish Pope is now a saint.
Back then more than a million and a quarter people turned out to the Phoenix Park to attend the mass celebrated by Pope John Paul ll.
On that same Irish visit 300,000 turned out to see him in Drogheda, 300,000 in Galway, 450,000 in Knock, and 400,000 in Limerick. Some 850,000 lined the streets of Dublin to see him in the Popemobile.
Pope Francis will arrive in Dublin on Saturday 25 August for the World Meeting of Families. The Holy Mass for the World Meeting of Families in Phoenix Park will attract thousands of pilgrims from Ireland and from around the world.
The full schedule of this year’s visit by 81-year-old Francis has not yet been released but his liturgy will bring to the World Meeting of Families to a conclusion. The Catholic gathering is held every three years and this year is being hosted in Dublin between 21 – 26 August.
Pope Francis will also take part in the Festival of Families in Croke Park on 25 August.
The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference enthusiastically welcomed the long-expected confirmation of the papal visit: “We are deeply honoured that Pope Francis will come to our country to participate in this universal Church celebration of faith and joy, as well as of the contemporary challenges which face families.”
Ireland’s 26 dioceses across Ireland are supporting the World Meeting of the Families, by the Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin. Dr Martin said this week that the visit has already prompted the Catholic Church in Ireland to examine and acknowledge its failings. He made the comments during his Palm Sunday sermon at the Pro Cathedral in Dublin on Sunday. He spoke of the many social ills in Irish life today – homelessness, domestic violence, infidelity, unemployment, lack of social support and forced migration – and said that they all “degrade” families.
“The announcement of the visit of Pope Francis to the World Meeting of Families inevitably has brought with it an examination of the failings of the Irish Church,” he said.
But, said Archbishop Martin, the Catholic Church must be a “counter cultural to many dimensions of today’s society”.
He said the Church failed Jesus Christ when it became caught up in its own structures – or in the ways of today’s world.
“The Church regains its soul not then by repeated words of regret and apology. These are just human words and human sentiments. The Church truly apologies when it return to the truth and the love of Jesus himself,” said the Archbishop.
In the nearly forty years since Pope St. John Paul II’s triumphal visit in 1979 the church in Ireland has become infamous for a succession of historic and contemporary scandals and for the way it tried to cover many of them up before eventually acknowledging them.
“Structural changes will remain fruitless if they remain simply human words.”
Archbishop Martin acknowledged this in his sermon when he said: “Even when the members and the leadership in the Church fail, Jesus’ salvation remains there to challenge us and to judge us. When the Church becomes caught up in its own structures or in the ways of the world, it fails Jesus.
“The Church regains its soul not then by repeated words of regret and apology. These are just human words and human sentiments.
“The Church truly apologizes when it returns to the truth and the love of Jesus himself. When we fail in our following of the demanding teaching of Jesus, we too can find healing only when we set aside our own pride and self-interest and allow ourselves to be changed by the power of Jesus’ love.
“Structural changes will remain fruitless if they remain simply human words. Reform of the Church requires something more radical. It requires moving beyond human categories. It requires that we too seek to understand how the challenge of Jesus will always be one that rejects human power,” he said