Pope Expresses Satisfaction with Mass Attendance in Diocese

By Kate Heaney
Donegal News [Ireland]
November 10, 2006

Bishop of Raphoe Rev Philip Boyce DD returned from meeting Pope Benedict XV1 in Rome having had a private audience with the Pontiff.

His visit was undertaken as part of the "Ad Limina Apostolorum" which sees the Bishops of Ireland visit the Vatican and pray at the tombs of the Apostles every five years. The recent visit should have taken place during the pontificate of Pope John Paul11, however the late Pope's illness prevented this.

Speaking about the visit this week Bishop Boyce described the two week stay in Rome as 'intense" in the heat of Indian summer temperatures.

The Bishops celebrated Mass in the four major Basilicas and in one of the catacombs. They visited the various departments of the Roman Curia, called "Congregations" or "Pontifical Councils".

"Each department or set of offices is responsible for a particular aspect of Church life including Education, Doctrine, Liturgy, Ecumenism, the Laity, the Clergy, the Missions, Pastoral Care of Immigrants. We were able to avail of the rich experience of these officials, who have knowledge of the Universal Church," Bishop Boyce said.

The bishop's private audience with His Holiness lasted for about 15 minutes.

"The Pope was well informed of our local situation in Ireland. He knew exactly where the Diocese of Raphoe was situated. He expressed satisfaction at the still high attendance at Sunday and weekday Masses. He praised the presence and committed efforts of those involved in our Adoration chapels," Bishop Boyce added.

In his address to all the Bishops on the final day of the visit Pope Benedict XV1 praised the adoption in the dioceses of the practice of silent prayer for vocations before the Blessed Sacrament. This, he added, should be warmly encouraged.

"He asked us and all our priests to offer our young people an inspiring and attractive vision of the ordained priesthood and he recognised that there is 'among the young people of Ireland a real spiritual hunger and generous desire to serve others'".

"The Holy Father also praised the many dedicated religious and lay teachers who are seriously committed to the education of the young in the faith. He insisted on the need of sound catechetical text books that faithfully reflect the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church," said Bishop Boyce


The issue of clerical child sexual abuse was discussed among the senior churchmen. Bishop Boyce said that Pope Benedict, from his time as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had been aware of the problem and scars left by child sexual abuse committed by clerics.

"He urged the bishops to continue their efforts to rebuild confidence, to establish the truth of what happened in the past, to respect principles of justice, to bring healing to all who suffered and to make safe environments for the young.

"In private audience Pope Benedict comes across as a gentle and caring person. His piercing gaze gives all his attention to the person who is before him. Endowed with outstanding intelligence and universally recognised as an eminent theologian, he is able to teach in clear and simple language. He makes doctrine understandable and attractive," the bishop said.

Bishop Boyce and his fellow bishops invited Pope Benedict to visit Ireland in the footsteps of Saint Patrick.


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