Photo Credit: Jeon Han / Korea Culture Information Service
The Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe, Kenneth Kearon, has written to Roman Catholic bishops who dioceses overlap with his, to welcome next week’s visit of Pope Francis to Ireland. Bishop Kenneth, the former Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, has also written to clergy and lay readers serving the 65 parishes in his diocese encouraging them to pray for the Pope and other “global Christian leaders”. The Pope will visit Ireland for the World Meeting of Families, a triennial event which “promotes the pastoral care of families, protects their rights and dignity in the Church and in civil society, so that they may ever be more able to fulfil their duties.”
“This is an important event, not only for the Roman Catholic Church but for all Christians in Ireland, as we welcome someone who is exercising remarkable Christian leadership on a global scale”, Bishop Kenneth said in the letter to leaders in his diocese. “Given the very warm and cordial relationship we share with our Catholic parishes and neighbours, might I suggest the following: that you pray in church for Pope Francis and other global Christian leaders at this time; that you pray in church for the World Meeting of Families and for family life; that where appropriate you send a message, possibly a letter or a visit, to your local Catholic parishes, assuring them of your prayers and good wishes at this time.”
He said: “This is an important time of celebration for our Roman Catholic neighbours and we should assure them that we share in their joy and celebrations.”
In 2013, in his then-role as Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Bishop Kenneth was part of the official Anglican delegation to Rome for the inauguration of Pope Francis’ Papal ministry.
Bishop Kenneth Kearon (left) at St Peter’s Square in the Vatican with the Anglican delegation at the innauguration of Pope Francis’ ministry in March 2013
In his letter to Roman Catholic bishops whose dioceses overlap with his, he said: “On behalf of the Church of Ireland communities in the Diocese of Limerick and Killaloe, I extend our very best wishes to you, your priests and parishioners on the forthcoming visit of Pope Francis to Ireland.
“This is an important time for all in your diocese as you prepare for this visit. In a remarkably short time Pope Francis has exercised a ministry and leadership on a world scale which few would have thought possible. We rejoice in his ecumenical commitment on a wider front, and note his warm personal friendship with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby. All of this brings great hope to Christians of all denominations, in a complex and unsettled world.
“The context of his visit, the World Meeting of Families, is an interest we all share. Families are at the heart of church and community in Ireland, and we welcome that emphasis at this time.”
The World Meeting of Families begins on Tuesday (21 August) and will conclude on Sunday (26 August) with an open-air mass in Phoenix Park, Dublin, at which some 500,000 people are expected to attend.
Bishop Kenneth has suggested two prayers that churches can use in the coming days:
A Prayer for Christian Leaders
Hear us, O Lord, as we lift up before you all who bear the bewildering responsibility of Christian leadership among the churches of the world. Especially at this time we pray for Pope Francis and his visit to Ireland, for Justin, Archbishop of Canterbury and His All Holiness Bartholomew, Ecumenical Patriarch.
Give them wisdom beyond their own, integrity in all their dealings, and a resolve to seek first your kingdom and your righteousness for all humankind.
We ask it in the name of Christ.
A Prayer for Family Life
God our Father, whose Son Jesus Christ lived at Nazareth as a member of a human family; hear our prayer for all homes and families, and especially for our own, that they may be blessed by his presence and united in his love.
We ask this in His name.