Cardinal Seán Brady has said he hopes the preparations for next year's International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin will encourage those who have drifted away from regular mass-going to return.

He also expressed the hope that they will discover a humble Church that has in recent years recognized more clearly its faults and failings.

Flanked by most of his fellow-bishops and 160 priests, Cardinal Brady was preaching at a mass in Knock Basilica to mark the National Eucharist Congress, the first in over 70 years.

He told an estimated 13,000 pilgrims that although faith was increasingly mocked and ridiculed these days, Ireland continued to have one of the highest rates of weekly mass-going in Europe.

Cardinal Brady also said he hoped that next June's Congress would help to bring healing to the social, economic, spiritual and moral wounds that had so deeply afflicted Ireland and its Catholic Church in recent years.

The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, said today's congress is part of a process of renewal.

Earlier, the Sacrament of the Sick was administered to hundreds of pilgrims both inside and outside the Basilica.