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Brexit could complicate Good Friday Agreement, says Irish bishop

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — April 10 marks the 20th anniversary of the historic Good Friday Agreement, which brought peace to Northern Ireland. The peace deal effectively brought an end to “The Troubles,” which had cast a sectarian shadow over Northern Ireland for three decades and resulted in the deaths of more than 3,500, the majority of whom were civilians.

The Agreement saw the removal of British Army security checkpoints and watchtowers along the 310-mile border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, making cross-border travel much more accessible and increasing trade. Read more »

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From turnips to potatoes to pumpkins: Irish folklife expert says Jack-O-Lanterns began in Ireland

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — As the seasonal carving of pumpkins gets underway, an Irish folklore expert said there is evidence that the tradition, which is synonymous with Halloween jack-o-lanterns in the United States, actually began in Ireland. Read more »

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Commentary: How I spent my summer vacation

August 23rd, 2015 Posted in Opinion Tags: , , ,

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We spent a lot of our vacation in cemeteries: a couple of church plots in England and a week’s worth of well-maintained and also abandoned graveyards in Ireland.

We were fortunate to afford a summer trip overseas. Also, I’m lucky to be married to a family historian, who used every website and archive online to plan an itinerary that avoided wild-goose chases and reference-room delays to find the churches and pathways of our ancestors.

After spending time in more cemeteries than I had previously visited in my life, it became obvious to me we were on a ghost hunt, of sorts. Read more »

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In Ireland, U.S. cardinals praise role of immigrants

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Catholic News Service

KNOCK, Ireland — Two American cardinals of Irish descent praised the role of immigrants, especially Irish, in building the United States.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York stands with Franciscan University of Steubenville students who came to see the cardinal open the novena in Knock, Ireland, Aug. 14. (CNS photo/Sarah Mac Donald)

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York stands with Franciscan University of Steubenville students who came to see the cardinal open the novena in Knock, Ireland, Aug. 14. (CNS photo/Sarah Mac Donald)

The United States is “a nation of immigrants and we are proud of that,” New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan told Catholic News Service at the Marian shrine of Knock, where he delivered a keynote opening a novena.

He said that while everybody was talking about the so-called immigrant problem, “We in United States would say the immigrants are not a problem, the immigrants are a gift.

“If there is one thing we have done well, it is to welcome the immigrant. Every person in the United States, unless you are Native American, is a descendant of an immigrant,” he told CNS.

Recalling that his own great-great-grandfather came to America from Ireland, he commented, “We didn’t have this intense anti-immigrant sentiment back then; America was known as a land of welcome, and there weren’t these restrictions.”

Rebuffing this anti-immigrant mentality he said: “There is an unfortunate inaccurate uncharitable stereotype of the immigrant. Some of the most patriotic and loyal Americans are immigrants because they love their adopted country. They are more patriotic and loyal than we are.”

Discussing Pope Francis’ September visit to the United States, he said the pope was particularly concerned about the treatment of immigrants and had suggested that America “might be a light to the rest of the world, showing it how to welcome and embrace and assimilate the immigrant.”

Cardinal Dolan said Pope Francis expressed a desire to see the work of American Catholic charities helping immigrants because New York is synonymous with the Statue of Liberty. He also wanted to see an inner city Catholic school, so he is scheduled to visit Our Lady Queen of Angels in Harlem, and there he will also meet about 150 immigrants and some of the charities working with them. He is also scheduled to meet with immigrants in Philadelphia.

Cardinal Dolan said that during his week in Ireland, more than 160 Americans had visited ancient places of pilgrimage, and many of the people they met expressed gratitude to the U.S. bishops and Catholic leaders for their “call for sound and fair immigration reform” in the United States.

Separately, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston led 1,500 people commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed Into Heaven and St. Nicholas in Galway Aug. 14. Boston Cardinal Richard Cushing represented Blessed Paul VI at the dedication of the cathedral in 1965.

In his homily, Cardinal O’Malley spoke of the deep historic links between the United States and Ireland and particularly between his city of Boston and Galway.

He noted that Massachusetts was a Puritan colony that was historically hostile to Catholicism, where Catholics were forbidden residence, priests imprisoned, and an effigy of the pope was burned every November on Boston Common.

But all of this changed following the 19th-century famine in Ireland that sent millions of Irish across the sea to start a new life and to send help back to those who stayed behind.

“As a young seminarian, I was here in Ireland when John F. Kennedy, the first Irish Catholic president of the United States, came to visit the land of his ancestors. He received the cead mile failte, the 100,000 welcomes of the Irish people,” he recalled.

“In Boston, we are very proud of our Irish heritage,” he said.

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15,000 rally in Ireland for repeal of abortion law

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — Pro-life campaigners in Ireland vowed to work for the repeal of a controversial abortion law introduced in 2013.

An estimated 15,000 members of the Pro-Life Campaign came to Dublin May 3 to participate in the National Vigil for Life.

Ahead of local and European elections set for May 23, speakers encouraged supporters not to back politicians that supported the laws which, for the first time in Ireland, permit abortion in certain circumstances.

Caroline Simons, PLC legal consultant, said she was “massively encouraged by turnout at vigil.”

“We realize it’s going to be a difficult road back, but we are massively encouraged that so many people are ready to get on board at this stage to help turn things around,” she said.

In her address to the vigil, Simons said the government thought that after the law’s passage, “the pro-life movement would be crushed and beaten.”

“How wrong they were. Your presence here today is proof that we are wasting no time in starting to rebuild. It’s going to take time, but when the public comes to realize the full horror of what the new legislation involves support for the repeal of the law will gather pace,” she said.

The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill was signed in to law July 30 after tense parliamentary debates during which several legislators resigned. However, while enacted, the government has yet to provide guidelines on the law meaning that no abortions have yet taken place.

When the guidelines are issued, the law will permit abortions when there is a substantial risk to the life of the mother, including when a woman says the continuation of the pregnancy leads to suicidal thoughts. It would also provide for jail terms of up to 14 years for those performing abortions in circumstances other than permitted by the law.

Under the law, the procedures for assessing the risk to the life of the mother differ depending on the woman’s condition. One doctor will be able to make a decision on whether to terminate a pregnancy in an emergency situation in which a mother’s life is in danger.

Where there is risk of loss of a woman’s life from physical illness, but where the situation is not an emergency and suicide intent is not a factor, two doctors will be needed to make the decision. However, in cases of suicide intent, the suicidal woman will be interviewed by a panel of three doctors, two psychiatrists and one obstetrician, who must agree unanimously.

 

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Ireland plans to reopen embassy to Vatican

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin welcomed an Irish government decision to reopen a Vatican Embassy just over three years after closing it.

Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore announced Jan. 21 that Ireland was preparing to open a scaled-back embassy but gave no date for the reopening.

Gilmore came under sharp criticism in November 2011 when he announced that the embassy would close and a diplomat based in Dublin would represent Ireland at the Vatican.

At the time, the government said the closure was a cost-saving move, a claim rejected by opposition politicians who accused Gilmore of wanting to downgrade relations with the Vatican amid tensions about the church’s handling of allegations of sexual abuse against priests.

The Vatican had no immediate response to the announcement.

Archbishop Martin said that reopening the embassy, although on a smaller scale, was “a very constructive exercise.”

The archbishop, who previously served as a Vatican diplomat, said Pope Francis, from the outset of his pontificate, “has dedicated himself to being a strong voice for fighting poverty.”

The Vatican remains an important place of interchange on questions of global development, Archbishop Martin said, adding that a resident Irish ambassador will enhance relations between the Vatican and Ireland.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the new mission would be “a scaled-back, one-person embassy with a focus on international development.”

Gilmore said the embassy will “enable Ireland to engage directly with the leadership of Pope Francis on the issues of poverty eradication, hunger and human rights.”

Brendan Smith, spokesman for the opposition Fianna Fail party on foreign affairs, welcomed the move. “The reasons given for closing the embassy in the first instance were completely bogus and it was a mistake,” he said.

“At the time, we pointed out the diplomatic value of having representation at the Holy See and the networking influence it gave us,” he said. “But the Labor Party knew best and pressed ahead with their populist agenda.”

Questions remain about where the diplomatic offices will be housed because the former embassy on Rome’s Janiculum Hill now serves as Ireland’s Italian Embassy.

 

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Irish parliament rejects legalized abortion

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DUBLIN — Ireland’s parliament rejected legislation that would have allowed a controversial 1992 Supreme Court ruling permitting abortion in limited circumstances to take effect.

The Socialist Party motion was defeated 111-20 April 19.

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Ireland survey shows gaps between church teachings and beliefs

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — Three out of four Irish who identified themselves as Catholics find the church’s teaching on sexuality “irrelevant,” according to new research published by the Association of Catholic Priests.

The survey, conducted by the research association Amarach, also showed that almost 90 percent of those surveyed believe that divorced or separated Catholics in a stable second relationship ought to be able to receive Communion at Mass. Under church law, divorced and remarried Catholics who have received an annulment may receive Communion.

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Papal nuncio to Ireland promises to strengthen relations

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — Pope Benedict XVI’s new representative to Ireland has promised to strengthen relations between the country and the Holy See.

Archbishop Charles Brown, a native of New York, spoke while presenting his credentials as apostolic nuncio to Ireland and dean of the country’s diplomatic corps to President Michael Higgins.

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U.S. priest in Rome is new nuncio to Ireland

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI has named U.S. Msgr. Charles J. Brown, a longtime official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as the new apostolic nuncio to Ireland.With the appointment, he was named archbishop of the titular see of Aquileia.

The appointment, announced by the Vatican Nov. 26, comes at a delicate moment in Vatican-Irish relations. In July, the Vatican recalled its previous nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, after Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny and others sharply criticized the Vatican’s handling of clerical abuse.

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