In Ireland, a celebration of the family
Since 1994, Catholics have gathered every few years for the World Meeting of Families. This year’s gathering was held Aug. 21-26 in Dublin. In honor of this celebration, Pope Francis journeyed to Ireland for an apostolic visit Aug. 25-26. This trip marks the second visit of a pope to Ireland — the first being Pope St. John Paul II in 1979 — and the second time Pope Francis has visited the country. During his time on the Emerald Isle, the Holy Father acknowledged the evils the Church continues to battle while encouraging Catholics to the hope and example of strong families centered in Christ. In true Francis style, the pope made time to share personal encounters with the people of Ireland and pilgrims from around the world. Upon arriving, he visited civil, cultural and religious leaders in Dublin. He also met with recently or soon-to-be married couples, young families during the Festival of Families, clients and volunteers at a Capuchin day center for the homeless, and Irish survivors of clerical, religious and institutional abuse.
While the Holy Father’s trip was clouded with recent developments in the abuse scandal, he used the visit to reinforce his condemnation of such evils. He prayed for the victims of abuse at St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, the Marian shrine of Our Lady of Knock in County Mayo, and addressed the issue once more prior to celebrating the closing Mass at Phoenix Park. Still, the pope found hope in the assembly’s purpose: the family. Closing the event, he said that it is the Holy Spirit who “constantly breathes new life into our world, into our hearts, into our families, into our homes and parishes.”