Irish Bishops Stress Europe's Christian Heritage

Conference Focuses on Vocations in Pauline Year

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MAYNOOTH, Ireland, NOV. 25, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The winter meeting of Ireland’s bishops covered Dublin’s Eucharistic Congress in 2012, statements on Ireland’s relation to the European Union, and a petition for Northern Ireland.

These topics and others were discussed during the general meeting of the Irish episcopal conference, which concluded today. During the weeklong session the bishops covered a range of issues from the government’s Civil Partnership Bill of 2008 to plans for promoting the sacrament of reconciliation this Advent.

The bishops addressed Hans-Gert Pöttering, president of the European Parliament and guest of the conference, affirming the importance of building a community of values in Europe and emphasizing its Christian heritage. The president recognized Ireland’s historic role in Europe, with particular mention of shared Christian values.

Regarding the Pauline Jubilee Year, the bishops called for renewed efforts of evangelization in their country, with an emphasis on ecumenism and the study of St. Paul’s epistles. They linked the devotion to this apostle with this “Year of Vocations” for Ireland, laying out vocational themes for the next months in order to raise up new apostles for the Church.

The conference turned its focus to Northern Ireland, commending recent diplomatic advances and calling on politicians to continue the momentum with generosity, mutual understanding and commitment to progress. They asked for particular attention to the education system and the needs of its students.

Faced to the challenges of the worldwide and national economy, the bishops highlighted the need for refocusing priorities on God rather than pursuit of profit, and on solidarity and respect for others, especially the poor. They encouraged Catholics to help build the economy through promoting values imbued with morality, trust and moderation.

The conference made reference to the “Global Gifts” program from Trocaire, their overseas aid agency, by which people can give Christmas presents to loved ones by donating products to families and communities in impoverished countries in the name of a friend. Gifts range from school lunches for Burmese refugee children (€10 or $13) to land for poor Ugandan families (€200 or $261).

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On the Net:

“The Year of Vocation”: www.yourvocation.ie

Trocaire’s Christmas 2008 “Global Gift” campaign: www.trocaire.org

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