By Junno Arocho

DUBLIN, Ireland, JUNE 17, 2012 ( Thunderous applause erupted at Croke Park Stadium as Pope Benedict XVI appeared on the video screens to address those present at the closing Mass of the 50thInternational Eucharistic Congress in Dublin today.

The Holy Father greeted all the participants on reflected on the theme of the congress: Communion with Christ and With One Another, saying that the notion of koinonia (communion) has been central to the understanding of the Church, its relationship with Christ, and in the sacraments, particularly, the Eucharist.

The pope also spoke of the congress coinciding with the 50thanniversary of the Second Vatican Council. “Based upon a deepening appreciation of the sources of the liturgy, the Council promoted the full and active participation of the faithful in the Eucharistic sacrifice, he said.

“At our distance today from the Council Fathers’ expressed desires regarding liturgical renewal, and in the light of the universal Church’s experience in the intervening period, it is clear that a great deal has been achieved; but it is equally clear that there have been many misunderstandings and irregularities.”

Speaking of the impact that the Eucharist has had on the history of the Church in Ireland, Pope Benedict applauded the nation's monks, martyrs, and missionaries that “have heroically lived the faith at home and spread the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness well beyond your shores.”

“You are the heirs to a Church that has been a mighty force for good in the world, and which has given a profound and enduring love of Christ and his blessed Mother to many, many others. Your forebears in the Church in Ireland knew how to strive for holiness and constancy in their personal lives, how to preach the joy that comes from the Gospel, how to promote the importance of belonging to the universal Church in communion with the See of Peter, and how to pass on a love of the faith and Christian virtue to other generations, he said.”

Pope Benedict also addressed the scandal of clergy abuse in the Catholic Church in Ireland, saying that the Christianity of those in the church who have abused and undermined the credibility of the Church “was no longer nourished by joyful encounter with Jesus Christ: it had become merely a matter of habit.” He then stated that both the Second Vatican Council and the Eucharistic Congress aims at overcoming that kind of Christianity and lead to a rediscovery of true faith in Jesus Christ.

Towards the end of his statement, the pontiff announced that 51stInternational Eucharistic Congress in 2016 would be held in Cebu City, Philippines. As the announcement was made, thousands of  participants from the future host nation waved their flags and applauded with joy.

“To the people of the Philippines I send warm greetings and an assurance of my closeness in prayer during the period of preparation for this great ecclesial gathering.  I am confident that it will bring lasting spiritual renewal not only to them but to all the participants from across the globe,” he said. The pope concluded his message by imparting his Apostolic Blessing to all present.

After the papal message, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, archbishop of Dublin reminisced on the events of the past few days, saying that the Eucharist “has awakened in our hearts something which went way beyond our plans and expectations.” “The Eucharist has been the nourishment of the extraordinary sense of our communion with one another which those of us who have been in the RDS and are here today have experienced. We have experienced the communion of the Church. We have been enriched by our sharing with those who have joined us from over 120 countries, he said.”

The Irish prelate expressed his gratitude to Irish president, Michael D. Higgins, who along with Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny and other public figures from all of Ireland were present at the Mass.

Archbishop Martin also congratulated the diocese of Cebu City on their selection as host city of the next Eucharistic Congress. “We pray that the Congress will bring the same special blessing to that city and diocese and nation as this Congress has brought to Dublin and Ireland. I am told that in the monsoon season you can produce rain storms which equal or even surpass the ones we experienced in these last days.”

The archbishop concluded his statement asking those present to carry what they have received in this congress as a preparation for the upcoming year of faith, which will be inaugurated by Pope Benedict XVI this October. “His words about that year can be a program for us as we move forward from this Eucharistic Congress,” he said.

“We want this Year to arouse in every believer the aspiration to professthe faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope…; to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist…; to ensure that believers’ witnessof life may grow in credibility; to rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed.”