Itís Best for Pope Benedict to Stay Away Form Ireland, for Now

Cormac MacConnell
February 17, 2012

At the time of writing on a bright spring morning, the word on the wires is that the Pope is considering coming to Ireland later this year for an upcoming Eucharistic Congress. He has been invited by the Irish hierarchy.

He is a very wise old man, and I'm sure that at the end of the day he will decide not to come. The time is not opportune at all.

How times change! The huge and emotive Eucharistic Congress of the last century was one of the most iconic events in the entire history of the new Irish nation.

It was garnished by the golden voice of Count John McCormack, it demonstrated how bonded church and state were at the time, about every citizen in the land dropped joyfully to their knees in the mighty rally in the Phoenix Park and at the other events. Old people talked about it all their lives.

Nothing came close to that Congress as a spiritually enriching and defining event until the last Pope's visit to Ireland over 30 years ago now. I covered that trip and there was no doubt but that Ireland joyously and wholeheartedly welcomed a Pontiff who radiated hope, serenity and even a genuine holiness.

He trailed a cloak of peace behind him in what were troubled political times, and warmly energized both his church and the island. Millions turned out to welcome him.

The days he spent in Ireland were very special. Everybody was wearing a smile. Statistically even the national crime rate dropped to almost zero.

But that was before the Catholic Church effectively imploded horrifically in our faces. I can recall, even as a hardened hack, being touched to the marrow by the performances of Bishop Eamon Casey and the showbiz priest, the late Father Michael Cleary, at the celebrations in Galway and Knock especially.








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