Saturday, 20 March 2010

The Holy Father's Pastoral Letter to the Church in Ireland

Quite simply, this is a brilliant pastoral letter from the Holy Father.

  No-one who reads it with serious attention could be in any doubt of his determination to confront and attack the evil of child abuse, perpetrated by some priests and religious, and covered up by some other priests and religious.
The Holy Father  shows that it was a spiritual crisis which led to this sin against children and their families, just as spiritual crisis always precedes sin.

 He diagnoses the symptoms and sets out the prescription:

"Only by examining carefully the many elements that gave rise to the present crisis can a clear-sighted diagnosis of its causes be undertaken and effective remedies be found. Certainly, among the contributing factors we can include: inadequate procedures for determining the suitability of candidates for the priesthood and the religious life; insufficient human, moral, intellectual and spiritual formation in seminaries and novitiates; a tendency in society to favour the clergy and other authority figures; and a misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal, resulting in failure to apply existing canonical penalties and to safeguard the dignity of every person. Urgent action is needed to address these factors, which have had such tragic consequences in the lives of victims and their families, and have obscured the light of the Gospel to a degree that not even centuries of persecution succeeded in doing."

The Holy Father's prescription includes:

Penitential acts, especially Friday penances:
"I now invite all of you to devote your Friday penances, for a period of one year, between now and Easter 2011, to this intention. I ask you to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland."

More frequent use of the Sacrament of Confession:
"I encourage you to discover anew the sacrament of Reconciliation and to avail yourselves more frequently of the transforming power of its grace."

Eucharistic Adoration; He wishes to see, in every diocese, churches or chapels devoted to this.
"Through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord, you can make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm, at the same time imploring the grace of renewed strength and a deeper sense of mission on the part of all bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful."

The Intercession of Saint John Mary Vianney:

"The Curé d’Ars understood well how greatly blessed a community is when served by a good and holy priest: “A good shepherd, a pastor after God’s heart, is the greatest treasure which the good Lord can grant to a parish, and one of the most precious gifts of divine mercy.” Through the intercession of Saint John Mary Vianney, may the priesthood in Ireland be revitalized, and may the whole Church in Ireland grow in appreciation for the great gift of the priestly ministry.

An Apostolic Visitation
of certain dioceses in Ireland, as well as seminaries and religious congregations.
 and a nationwide Mission be held for all bishops, priests and religious.

The Holy Father attached this beautiful prayer for the Church in Ireland:

Prayer for the Church in Ireland
God of our fathers, renew us in the faith which is our life and salvation, the hope which promises forgiveness and interior renewal, the charity which purifies and opens our hearts to love you, and in you, each of our brothers and sisters.
Lord Jesus Christ, may the Church in Ireland renew her age-old commitment to the education of our young people in the way of truth and goodness, holiness and generous service to society.
Holy Spirit, comforter, advocate and guide, inspire a new springtime of holiness and apostolic zeal for the Church in Ireland.
May our sorrow and our tears, our sincere effort to redress past wrongs, and our firm purpose of amendment bear an abundant harvest of grace for the deepening of the faith in our families, parishes, schools and communities, for the spiritual progress of Irish society, and the growth of charity, justice, joy and peace within the whole human family.
To you, Triune God, confident in the loving protection of Mary, Queen of Ireland, our Mother, and of St. Patrick, St. Brigid and all the saints, do we entrust ourselves, our children, and the needs of the Church in Ireland.

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