Final Preparations Underway for Eucharistic Congress in Ireland

April 12, 2012 10:49 am
Appointment of the Papal Legate to the Eucharistic Congress
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has welcomed the announcement by Pope Benedict XVI of the nomination of a Papal Legate who will be his representative at the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin in nine weeks time (10th – 17th June 2012).
The Papal Legate is Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Canadian President of the Congregation for Bishops, (the Vatican office which deals with the appointment of bishops around the world). Cardinal Ouellet is a member of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.
Up to the time of his present appointment in June 2010, Cardinal Ouellet was Archbishop of Quebec City, which hosted the last International Congress in June 2008. Our new Legate, therefore, has an intimate working knowledge of a Eucharistic Congress “from the inside.”
As one might expect of a Canadian bishop, Cardinal Ouellet is fluent in English as well as his native French. As a result of time spent teaching in Bogota, Colombia and in Rome, he also has a good command of Spanish and Italian.
The Role of the Papal Legate:
The Archbishop of Dublin, as bishop of the host diocese, is the President of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress. The Papal Legate is the Special Envoy of the Pope and he assumes the effective Presidency, during the actual celebration of the Congress. While the Legate will be present throughout the Congress, his principal public role will include presiding at the opening Mass on Sunday June 10th at the RDS and the Statio Orbis, or concluding Mass in Croke Park on Sunday, June 17th.
Previous Papal Legates:
The Papal Legate to the 31st International Eucharistic Congress, which was celebrated in Dublin in 1932, was the Roman-born Cardinal Lorenzo Lauri, who arrived in Dun Laoghaire by mail boat after the long overland journey from Rome. Cardinal Lauri was awarded the freedom of Dublin City during the Congress. No details of Cardinal Ouellet’s arrival have been announced to date.
The Patrician Congress which was celebrated in 1961 to mark the 1,500th anniversary of the death of St. Patrick, was not a major international event like the Eucharistic Congress, but it did attract the appointment of a Papal Legate for the Patrician Congress, Cardinal Grégoire-Pierre Agagianian, (a native of Georgia on the eastern frontier of Europe). Agagianian was one of those most intimately involved at the time in the management of the Second Vatican Council.
In mediaeval times papal legates were occasionally appointed to settle disputes about authority and about diocesan boundaries. The best known of these was St. Malachy, the first canonized Irish Saint, who was appointed Papal Legate in 1139 and sent back to Ireland to finalise agreement on diocesan boundaries and ecclesiastical provinces. The structures which he established then have been substantially maintained up to the present day.
The Difference between a Papal Legate and a Papal Nuncio.
The Papal Nuncio, currently Archbishop Charles Brown, is the permanent representative of the Holy See (the Vatican ambassador) to the Republic of Ireland. He is also the Pope’s representative to the Catholic Church in Ireland. In this role, his brief covers the whole island of Ireland.
By contrast, a Papal Legate is normally appointed for a specific mission and for a defined period of time.