Belfast Telegraph

Pope in Ireland: Thousands from across world arrive in Dublin for historic event

Pilgrims from Nigeria pose for a selfie before the opening ceremony yesterday evening of the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. The event is the first of many to be held ahead of this weekend’s celebrations to be led by Pope Francis
Pilgrims from Nigeria pose for a selfie before the opening ceremony yesterday evening of the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. The event is the first of many to be held ahead of this weekend’s celebrations to be led by Pope Francis

By Michelle Devane

The World Meeting of Families (WMoF) has officially got under way ahead of the Pope's visit to Ireland.

Thousands descended on Dublin's Royal Dublin Society (RDS) yesterday evening to attend the opening ceremony.

Church bells were rung simultaneously across Ireland's 26 dioceses to launch the five-day Catholic congress.

Prayers were also said throughout the dioceses.

More than 37,000 people from 116 different countries are expected to attend the RDS for a series of events as part of the Catholic festival.

Hundreds of thousands more will attend the celebrations that will be led by Pope Francis this weekend in Dublin and Knock.

The WMoF will culminate with the closing papal mass in Phoenix Park on Sunday.

The event has gained huge significance since the Pope made a statement on Monday apologising for the atrocities of clerical sexual abuse. In a letter to the world's more than one billion Catholics, Pope Francis said the Church needed to move to end the culture of death within it.

Yesterday's opening ceremony, which was entitled Le Cheile le Criost, or Together with Christ, included hymns, psalms and prayers for the entire human family before God.

In his homily, the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin welcomed thousands of international visitors. Families and pilgrimage groups have travelled from as far as Africa, Canada, Europe, Australia and India to partake.

A woman takes a photograph of the Papal Altar at Phoenix park in Dublin on August 23, 2018, prior to the visit by Pope Francis to Ireland on August 25-26. Pic Paul Faith PA
A woman takes a photograph of the Papal Altar at Phoenix park in Dublin on August 23, 2018, prior to the visit by Pope Francis to Ireland on August 25-26. Pic Paul Faith PA
An LGBT choir protests outside the world meeting of families in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday August 23, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope LGBT. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Former Manchester United footballer Father Philip Mulryan speaking at the world meeting of families in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday August 23, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Sport . Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
KNOCK, IRELAND - AUGUST 23: Statues of Pope Francis sit alongside other memorabilia on sale ahead of the Pope's visit to Ireland on August 23, 2018 in Knock, Ireland. Pope Francis will visit the small visit of knock on the second day of the first papal visit to Ireland in forty years. The Roman Catholic pilgrimage site is famous for it's shrine where the Blessed Virgin Mary was said to appear to villagers in an apparition along with Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist in 1879. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
KNOCK, IRELAND - AUGUST 23: Sacred heart framed photographs sit alongside other of memorabilia on sale ahead of the Pope's visit to Ireland on August 23, 2018 in Knock, Ireland. Pope Francis will visit the small visit of knock on the second day of the first papal visit to Ireland in forty years. The Roman Catholic pilgrimage site is famous for it's shrine where the Blessed Virgin Mary was said to appear to villagers in an apparition along with Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist in 1879. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
KNOCK, IRELAND - AUGUST 23: Statues of Pope Francis sit alongside other memorabilia on sale ahead of the Pope's visit to Ireland on August 23, 2018 in Knock, Ireland. Pope Francis will visit the small visit of knock on the second day of the first papal visit to Ireland in forty years. The Roman Catholic pilgrimage site is famous for it's shrine where the Blessed Virgin Mary was said to appear to villagers in an apparition along with Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist in 1879. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
KNOCK, IRELAND - AUGUST 23: General views of some of the memorabilia including holy water bottles on sale ahead of the Pope's visit to Ireland on August 23, 2018 in Knock, Ireland. Pope Francis will visit the small visit of knock on the second day of the first papal visit to Ireland in forty years. The Roman Catholic pilgrimage site is famous for it's shrine where the Blessed Virgin Mary was said to appear to villagers in an apparition along with Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist in 1879. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Pope Francis dolls are on sale at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin on August 23, 2018. - Pope Francis will be visiting Ireland on August 25 to take part in the World Meeting of Families, a global Catholic gathering. (Photo by Paul FAITH / AFP)PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Nuns wait for a service to begin at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin on August 23, 2018. - Pope Francis will be visiting Ireland on August 25 to take part in the World Meeting of Families, a global Catholic gathering. (Photo by Paul FAITH / AFP)PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
An art Installation by Mannix Flynn in Dublin City centre ahead of the Popes visit to Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday August 23, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The Papal Altar is pictured at Phoenix park in Dublin on August 23, 2018, prior to the visit by Pope Francis to Ireland on August 25-26. - Pope Francis will be visiting Ireland on August 25 to take part in the World Meeting of Families, a global Catholic gathering. (Photo by Paul FAITH / AFP)PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Pope Francis dolls on sale at the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A general view of the opening ceremony of the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Cardinal Kevin Farrell during the opening ceremony of the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A general view of the opening ceremony of the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin arrives for the opening ceremony of the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A general view of the opening ceremony of the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Pope Francis candles on sale before the opening ceremony of the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Gerald Cyprien Lacroix of Canada arrives for the opening ceremony of the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Pope Francis T shirts on sale before the opening ceremony of the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families . Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Pope Francis dolls on sale at the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Pope Francis dolls on sale at the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Gerald Cyprien Lacroix of Canada arrives for the opening ceremony of the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Pilgrims arrive for the opening ceremony of the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The archbishop said: "There are those who would look at the World Meeting as some sort of ideological gathering to celebrate a type of family which probably does not exist.

"Whatever of the past, here in Dublin the World Meeting is something much more profound: it is to reflect the opening words of our reading: 'You are God's chosen race; he loves you'."

Dr Martin added: "The family is not a remote ideological notion but the place where compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience and forgiveness are learned, practised and spread."

The archbishop said family life has changed in Ireland.

"It may seem a strange thing to say, but we have to find ways of ensuring that these new relationships and challenges in family culture become 'clothed in love'," Dr Martin said.

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