Some people see Pope Francis as a “global religious star”, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said when discussing the pontiff’s pastoral visit to Ireland next month.
The archbishop said many people would want to see any pope who was coming to Ireland but Pope Francis had a special appeal for some people.
“He is a sort of global religious star whose simple humanity and human warmth attracts. Pope Francis, who is over 80 years old, appears as a modern pope and people like that,” said Dr Martin.
But many also found Pope Francis hard to understand, especially in an Ireland where people had “a sort of black and white” understanding of the realities of faith — sins were sins and that was it.
“Many find it hard to understand a pope who can reaffirm doctrines and moral norms and yet admit that people live in grey areas and that that does not exclude them,” he said.
The archbishop said Pope Francis recognises change and realises that there are many dimensions in the long tradition of Irish Catholicism and Irish missionary endeavour that have diminished.
“He recognises that there is no way in which the realities of the past can be replicated today,” said Dr Martin. “The visit of Pope Francis will not be a rehash of 1979. He also recognises that something has been lost along the way and most of us can identify with that.”
He said Pope Francis will not “work miracles” when he comes here.
“In a visit of little more than 36 hours, it will not be possible for him to design a new roadmap for the Irish Church,” he said. “At most, he can offer the Irish Church the instruments on which the new roadmap can be drawn.”
The archbishop was addressing the launch of the global celebration of families in Croke Park, Dublin, in the presence of Pope Francis on Saturday, August 25.
It will be one of the highlights of the World Meeting of Families 2018 and the line-up includes Daniel O’Donnell, Nathan Carter, The Priests, Paddy Moloney, Moya Brennan, and Celine Byrne.
Pope Francis will deliver an address in the stadium and hear the stories of families from Ireland, Canada, India, Iraq, and Africa.
Dr Martin said the family is central to any society. It is the backbone of intergenerational solidarity, passing values from one generation to the next.
“Families face challenges and at times shame all of us who watch them face difficulties while society fails them,” he said.
Dr Martin said Pope Francis will go to the Capuchin Food Centre in Dublin to be with families who are homeless or living in hotel rooms.
Those families come to the centre every day because they could never have a regular meal together otherwise.
Meanwhile, around 4,000 ministers of Holy Communion will be needed to for the Papal Mass in the Phoenix Park on Sunday, August 26. There are 500 priests available on the day and 1,000 lay people have volunteered but a spokesperson for the Dublin Archdiocese said an additional 2,500 are needed.
Volunteers, who must be Garda vetted for the event, need to be steady on their feet because much of the distribution will be done on the grassy corrals of the Phoenix Park Papal Mass site.
Around 500,000 people are expected to attend the Papal Mass.
Meanwhile, the Pope has been urged to sack an archbishop who has been jailed in Australia for covering up child sex abuse.
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