Congress celebrates Marriage and Family Life

Tuesday June 12, 2012

The central role of Communion in marriage and family life was the theme of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress yesterday, Tuesday 12th June.

The day began with morning prayer. Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, Scotland, prayed with hundreds of pilgrims in the Congress Prayer Space at 9am.

Among a series of popular workshops, talks, youth events and exhibitions, pilgrims had an opportunity to hear Archbishop of Manila, Philippines, Luis Antonio G. Tagle who presented a talk titled ‘The Abuse of Children: Accepting Responsibility, Bringing Healing’. Archbishop Tagle spoke about clergy sexual misconduct with some reflections from Asia.

Archbishop Tagle explained: “The so-called crisis of the clergy unfolding these past years is immense in scope. It includes allegations of sexual misconduct, suspicions about the clergy’s handling of money, accusations of misuse of authority, inappropriate lifestyle and a host of other things. The faithful are appalled at the rudeness of their pastors.”

“At first glance, this crisis seems to be about explicitly sexual behaviour only. But a closer look at the actual cases reveals that deep theological, spiritual, anthropological and pastoral issues are involved. That is why the impressionist way by which some people tackle the problem is quite inadequate and even unfair,” he added.

In the main RDS arena, Archbishop of Perth, Barry Hickey delivered the catechesis on ‘God as Loving Communion’. The musicians and performers on the main arena stage included: Gardiner Street Gospel Choir, Kisi Kids: International Catholic Movement, Composer Ian Callanan, Diocesan choirs from Kildare & Leighlin, Ossory & Ferns, Waterford & Lismore and directed by musician Father Liam Lawton.

The Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Mr Carl Anderson, gave a personal testimony as a husband and father on the Eucharist and faith in his life, in the main RDS arena. He explained that “too often the cultural commentary about marriage —especially found in defence of divorce—suggests marriage and family is risky because one’s commitment and contribution may not ‘pay off’—that there may not be an adequate return on one’s investment in the marriage.”

Mr Anderson added “And yet, our sacrifices are put in perspective at every Mass when we say: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof. What a dramatic expression of Christ’s love for us!”

This was followed by teacher and columnist, Breda O’Brien who delivered a personal testimony on marriage and family life. “In our family, the kitchen table is very important. The moment when each child left the highchair and joined the rest of us was a great moment. It is there that we learn to listen, and to forgive and be forgiven. It is there that we are nourished, body and soul. It is there that we learn to be thankful, and to give thanks for all we have. In that way, it is the place where we first learn the meaning of Eucharist, of Christ present in our midst. If we want to re-learn the value of the Eucharist, perhaps we also need to re-learn the value of the kitchen table and the family meal,” O’Brien said.

The principal concelebrants at the celebration of Mass were Cardinal André Vingt-Trois; Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal George Alencherry; Major Archbishop Siro-Malabar Church, Archbishop Barry Hickey; Emeritus Archbishop of Perth, Archbishop Gerald Cyprien Lacroix; Quebec City, and Bishop Joachin Hermes Robledo Romero; Paraguay.

Delivering the homily, Cardinal André Vingt -Trois said the first mission of Christian families is to live concretely by the values of “reconciliation, mutual acceptance and joy in giving one’s life for one’s loved ones”.

Meanwhile, the Papal Legate Cardinal Marc Ouellet attended a special meeting at Áras an Uachtaráin with President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina, along with guests Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and the Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown.

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