By Susan Gately - 07 October, 2016
In a statement released after their autumn meeting, the Catholic bishops of Ireland have appealed to Catholics in Ireland to pray the rosary this month “for the protection of human life from the moment of conception until natural death.”
“October is the month of the Holy Rosary. Guided by Pope Francis who has recommended the Rosary as a form of ‘spiritual medicine’ saying, ‘it is good for your soul, for your whole life’,” the bishops invited families, parishes and religious congregations to pray the Rosary this month for the protection of human life.
In the context of the ongoing debate on the Eighth Amendment, they had discussed the sanctity of human life at all stages. “A truly compassionate society promotes care and protection of all unborn human life and recognises the equal right to life of the mother,” they said, commending the work of Cura, the Church’s crisis pregnancy agency, which marks 40 years of service next year.
Ahead of next week’s debate on Budget 2017, the bishops placed particular emphasis on the need for the budget to support low income and single parent families. They praised the pastoral work of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and the focus of its pre-budget submission.
“In terms of families and specifically childcare, recent cuts to one parent family payment have reduced incomes of many lone parents in employment; and have made it more difficult for others to take up work, education or training,” they said. They called on legislators to “prioritise the needs of low income families, and target resources towards social housing and the homeless in next week’s annual budgetary allocation of State resources.”
October is Mission month. While there are almost 1,200 Irish missionaries serving throughout the world, the theme for 2016 Mission month and World Mission Sunday on 23 October stresses the vocation of everyone to mission: “Every Christian is a missionary”.
At their meeting, the bishops announced that Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly of Cashel & Emly would lead the inaugural ‘Miles for Mission’ walk in Phoenix Park, Dublin, to raise funds for the Love and Hope Centre for people living with HIV/Aids in Nakuru, Kenya, on Saturday 22 October. They appealed to people to support the country-wide collection for Irish missionaries the next day, World Mission Sunday, 23 October.
The 9th World Meeting of Families will take place in Dublin from 22 to 26 August 2018. The bishops announced that the official preparations for the event will begin on 22 October 2016 with a day-long conference entitled ‘The Joy of Love, Amoris Laetitia and the World Meeting of Families in Ireland’.
The conference will take place at DCU Saint Patrick’s Drumcondra Campus in Dublin. At the event, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin will formally launch preparations for the 2018 meeting, joined by representatives of dioceses and parishes from around the country, as well as various groups who support marriage and offer pastoral outreach to families.
On the topic of vocations, the bishops have agreed to establish a National Vocations Office to offer support, networking and training to vocation directors in Ireland, both on a regional and national level. As a shared central resource, the new office will act as a knowledge centre for best practice, as well as providing continuity of memory in relation to all vocations work. The mission of the National Vocations Office aims to build a culture of vocation, to promote specific vocations, and to support those who work in the pastoral care of vocations, they said.
In the run-up to the establishment of this new office, Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan and a delegation from the Council for Vocations of the Bishops’ Conference will attend the International Congress on Priestly Vocations, which will take place in Rome from 19 to 21 October.