1932 Eucharistic Congress Analysis

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The historical significance of the 1932 Eucharistic Congress
The 31st International Eucharistic Congress was held in Dublin from June 22nd to the 26th. It became one of the largest Eucharistic conferences of the 20th century. At the time Ireland was home to over three million Catholics and the congress commemorated the death of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The chosen theme was "The Propagation of the Sainted Eucharist by Irish Missionaries”. The congress offered the Free State a chance to show case itself on an international stage and while it lasted no more than a week but it was hugely significant at the time for proving the Irish Free State as a leading Catholic country. No effort was spared y the Irish government in the organisation
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There were already intentions to lessen the effect of the Crowns authority which was written into the original constitution of the Free State. Shortly after assuming office in 1932 two of de Valera’s ministers (Frank Aiken and Seán T. O’Kelly), in a blatant affront, walked out of a function held by the French legation in Dublin when MacNeill and his wife arrived. While MacNeill had been prominent in the Catholic Emancipation centenary celebrations in 1929 (hosted by the previous Cumann na nGaedheal government), in the run-up to the congress in 1932 de Valera expressed dismay at MacNeill’s stated intention of having several ‘distinguished European Catholics’ as guests during the congress, with de Valera noting the embarrassment to the government. It was further made clear to MacNeill that the government would be unwilling to assist the governor-general in inviting any other visitors. During the garden party at Blackrock College special measures were taken by Dr McQuaid (under instruction from DeValera) to minimise contact between with MacNeill. The governor-general was not invited to the state reception in Dublin Castle to welcome the papal legate. Given such treatment it was hardly surprising that the situation came to a head later in the year and, following a rather sensational protest over his treatment, MacNeill was …show more content…
The Catholic Church emerged as a powerful broker in both political and social influence. This was reflected by the significance attached to the event by the state itself. Always pursuing a greater degree of independence the government welcomed the chance to showcase itself on an international stage and attempt to make strong cultural ties and allies at the same time. The influence of the Catholic Church on the young state is both obvious and significant. From the early years of the Irish Free State, right up until the late eighties, the church would remain the most significant factor in Irish social life, particularly in education. When Pope John Paul II visited Ireland in 1979 the celebrations were reminiscent of the Congress of 1932. Large crowds attended Phoenix Park for the papal mass where John Paul II commended the Irish people for their strong and distinct catholic faith. However he could not have known that from that point on the church’s influence would be on a continual wane in Irish

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