The former head of the Catholic Church in England, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, will be among the speakers as the Diocese of Limerick puts on a series of events in the coming weeks to mark the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.
Cardinal Murphy O’Connor is a former Archbishop of Westminster and led the high-ranking apostolic visitation which arrived in Ireland last year tasked to reform the church here.
Organiser of the series of Limerick lectures marking the Year of Faith, Fr Eamonn Fitzgibbon, said the Church has “yet to fully capture” the reforming spirit set out in Vatican II a half-century ago.
“Vatican II was the most significant moment in the history of the Church for centuries. For its time, it was radical and revolutionary and still is today. Proof of that is the very fact that we are still only coming to terms with the full implications of what the Council asks of us as Church today and to be honest we are struggling to deliver the model of Church suggested by the Council,” said Fr Fitzgibbon.
“One of Pope John XXIII’s most abiding comments from Vatican II was ‘I want to throw open the windows of the Church so that we can see out and the people can see in’. This is as much a challenge for us today as it was back then and recent years have given us a clear and painful reminder of our failure to be entirely transparent and accountable.
“This milestone anniversary could not have come along at a more appropriate time as we clearly need to engage with the laity now more than ever involving them in meaningful ways in leadership and ministry throughout our parishes. We are hoping that our series of lectures will start a dialogue with the public at a local level here in the Diocese of Limerick that delivers on that which Pope John XXIII and the Council intended.
We would certainly appeal to the faithful and wider public to join us at any or, indeed, all of these lectures. There is a need for the Church to listen to other voices and in reflecting on Vatican II, we have an opportunity to do just that,” said Fr Fitzgibbon.
An eyewitness account of Vatican II by Bishop of Meath Michael Smith is the first of the series of events and will take place this Friday, October 5, at the South Court Hotel (7.30pm). Bishop Smith attended all 168 days of the Council as one of a dozen official note takers.
On Tuesday next, Cardinal Murphy O’Connor will take the lectern, again at the South Court (6.30pm) on the legacy of Vatican II.
The diocesan launch for the Year of Faith will be held on Saturday, October 13 (10:30am to 4pm) at the South Court. Members of all 60 parishes in Limerick have been invited to this pastoral workshop on the faith.
The remaining four lectures all take place at Mary Immaculate College at 7.30pm. They include talks by leading scripture lecturer Diane Corkery, of St Patrick’s College, Thurles, on October 19 and by former Bishop of Limerick Dr Donal Murray on “The Role of the Lay Faithful” on October 26. Mary Immaculate’s own professor of theology Fr Eamonn Conway will speak on the Vatican’s new evangelisation on November 2 and the final lecture will be delivered by WIT’s Philip Cremin on “Peritus to Pope: Benedict XVI and the Council”.
Each lecture costs €5. See www.limerickdiocese.org for more details.