The Church and the cultures of North West Europe:
interpreting signs of closeness and distance
21–28 June 2001
Cardinal Paul Poupard, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, will be visiting Ireland in the last week of June 2001. This will involve him in a busy programme, since he has had several invitations that fit nicely into seven days. What follows is a chronology of the programme, but the invitations came in a very different order. Providentially, everything fits together quite well.
The first engagement is a visit to the National Museum in Dublin on the evening of Thursday 21 June. The Cardinal will be the guest of Minister Mary Coughlin, since Ms. Sile De Valera, Minister of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has to attend a meeting in Brussels. Ms. De Valera will meet the Cardinal on the following morning. He will then visit Glendalough and, if possible, also the archaeological sites at the Valley of the Boyne.
On the evening of Friday 22 June, the Cardinal will give the opening address at the annual conference organised at the Irish Centre for Faith and Culture at Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth. The conference is entitled Measuring Culture: Discerning Values and Beliefs, and it continues throughout the following day.
On the afternoon of Saturday 23 June, His Eminence will travel to Derry for an evening reception with political leaders and civic dignitaries in the city. On the morning of Sunday 24 June he will meet representatives of the local community at an informal breakfast, and will later preside and give the homily at Mass in Saint Eugene’s cathedral. After a visit to County Donegal in the afternoon, he will pray at a ceremony for the blessing of graves in Derry city centre, and will attend a reception where he will meet local religious leaders. On the following day, Monday 25 June, he will pay a courtesy call on the mayor of the city of Derry, and then meet school and college heads at a reception at Saint Columb’s College, before leaving in the afternoon. The Derry visit is the main reason for the visit to Ireland, and is the initiative of Bishop Séamus Hegarty, who is convinced that, even when difficult political questions are eventually ironed out, there will be many challenges to the people of Ireland in the realm of culture. He asked Cardinal Poupard to come and “see for himself” progress already made in this area, and also to offer some words and gestures of encouragement to those who are or will be involved in this process of healing and growth.
The Cardinal will stay overnight with Bishop Thomas Finnegan in Ballina on his way south. On Tuesday 26 June he will have an opportunity to visit some important historical and archaeological sites in County Mayo before travelling to Limerick.
In Limerick he will stay with Bishop Donal Murray, who is a Member of the Pontifical Council for Culture and, consequently, a regular and most welcome visitor in Cardinal Poupard’s office in the Vatican. After an informal evening, he will take part in a seminar on the morning of Wednesday 27 June. The Digital and the Divine – Reflections on Technology and Transcendence is the title of the seminar, organised by Bishop Murray and academic staff at Mary Immaculate College at the University of Limerick, where new opportunities have arisen for the study of the interplay between faith and culture.
This will be Cardinal Poupard’s penultimate engagement during his visit to Ireland. In the afternoon he will fly from Shannon to Dublin, where he is due to meet Cardinal Desmond Connell and then stay overnight at the Apostolic Nunciature before returning to Rome on the morning of Thursday 28 June, in time to celebrate the feast of Saints Peter and Paul (the latter being his patron saint) the following day in Rome.