The four metropolitan archbishops of Ireland met this week with the apostolic visitors chosen by the Holy Father to carry out visitations in their archdioceses. After two days of meetings, the participants are "hopeful" that their work will be a means to purify and heal the Catholic Church of Ireland and "help to restore the trust and hope of the faithful there."
According to a statement from the Holy See's Press Office, the meetings took place Oct. 5-6.
The visitors and the respective archdioceses subject to visitation are Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor to Armagh; Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, OFM., to Dublin; Archbishop Thomas Christopher Collins to Cashel and Emly; and Archbishop Terrence Thomas Prendergast, S.J., to Tuam.
The archbishops of these four jurisdictions are Cardinal Sean B. Brady for Armagh; Diarmuid Martin for Dublin; Dermot Clifford for Cashel and Emly; and Michael Neary for Tuam.
During the first day's preparatory meeting at which they were all "(m)indful of the tragic abuse of children that has taken place in Ireland," participants discussed aspects of the visitation.
As per the Holy Father's “Letter to the Catholics of Ireland,” the visit will be of a "pastoral" nature, "intended to assist the local Church on her path of renewal" and, said the Vatican press office, it "is a sign of the Holy Father’s desire, as the Successor of Peter, to offer his pastoral solicitude to the Church in Ireland."
The Vatican statement also described the contact visitors will have with members of the Irish Church, affirming that they will be giving "particular attention to victims of abuse and their families, but will also meet with and listen to a variety of people, including ecclesiastical authorities, lay faithful and those involved with the crucial work of safeguarding of children."
To begin to the second day, Irish archbishops celebrated Mass with the visitors and participating members of the Congregation for Bishops and the Holy See's Secretariat of State. All met afterward to summarize the first day's discussions and decide how to organize the visitation to each of the archdioceses.
According to the official statement, the meeting was "marked by fraternal warmth and mutual collaboration."
Following the meetings, all who took part asserted that they "are hopeful that this significant endeavor will be an instrument of purification and healing for the Church in Ireland and help to restore the trust and hope of the faithful there."