Irish bishops: economy should be 'at the service of the people'

DUBLIN -- With Ireland's economy nearing bankruptcy and in need of emergency help from bodies such as the International Monetary Fund and the European Union, the Irish bishops said that the opportunity exists to build a profitable and growing economy "at the service of the people."

In a statement issued Dec. 14, the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference called for "an economy which brings benefit to all our citizens, especially the children of our nation, the elderly and the most vulnerable."

The statement, "In Helping Each Other, There Is Hope," came at the conclusion of a one-day meeting of the bishops in Maynooth. The meeting was shortened after being postponed a week because of severe winter weather.

The Irish economy has been racked by the collapse of the real estate market and reckless lending by the country's financial institutions. The recent problems are a far cry from the "Celtic Tiger" boom years of 1995 through 2004, when Ireland became one of Western Europe's wealthiest countries.

Unemployment stands at 14 percent. Four percent of mortgage holders are at least three months behind in payments.

Commission: Magdalene laundries should compensate wards

DUBLIN (CNS) -- The Irish government has asked the country's attorney general to consider a report by the Irish Human Rights Commission that calls for compensating women and girls held in the so-called Magdalene laundries run by 10 religious orders.

Former inmates of the laundries, also known as Magdalene asylums, presented their case to the commission because they were not entitled to the same compensation given to former residents of church-managed orphanages and youth facilities despite often suffering the same hardship and neglect highlighted in the Ryan Report published in 2009.

Irish priests form association; meeting hall overflows

DUBLIN -- The inaugural meeting of a new association to represent the views of Irish priests drew six times more participants than organizers expected.

More than 300 priests were present at the first meeting of the Association of Catholic Priests in Port Laoise Sept. 15. Organizers had expected only 60 priests to attend, so the meeting was delayed while proceedings were transferred to a larger meeting hall.

New bishop: abuse scandal made church look in mirror

DUBLIN -- In the wake of a series of clerical child abuse scandals, the country's newest prelate, Bishop Liam S. MacDaid of Clogher, called on the people of his diocese to join him in "a repentant return to the well of salvation."

Speaking at his consecration at St. Macartan's Cathedral, Monaghan, July 25, Bishop MacDaid said: "Society has forced us in the Irish church to look into the mirror, and what we saw were weakness and failure, victims and abuse. The surgeon's knife has been painful but necessary. A lot of evil and poison has been excised. There comes a time when the surgeon's knife has done what it can, is put away and a regime of rehabilitation for the patient is put in place.