Growth and decline are top of the agenda for the Irish bishops’ meetings with the Pope and senior Vatican officials next week, according to Archbishop Eamon Martin.
This weekend sees Ireland’s bishops travelling to Rome for their first formal collective visit to the Vatican in over 10 years, with fewer than half the hierarchy’s members having taken part in the 2006 pilgrimage.
Writing in The Irish Catholic, Dr Martin says the highlight of the 2017 ad limina visit will be the hierarchy’s meeting with Pope Francis, with the bishops expecting that Pope Francis and others in the Vatican will want to learn how the bishops are addressing declines both in Mass attendance and in numbers answering calls to priestly and religious vocations.
“I, and my fellow bishops, will be able to share with them the resilience of our priests and religious under increased pressure and workload, as well as the tremendous generosity and kindness of the faithful towards us,” he writes, continuing, “we will be able to discuss the seeds of renewal and new growth in catechesis, lay involvement, intentional discipleship and pastoral outreach that are emerging all over the country.”
Other issues the bishops expect to discuss, he writes, include child protection, migration, economic hardship, secularism and the need to promote the dignity of all.