THE Bishop of Cork Dr John Buckley has described the GAA as the greatest amateur organisation in the world that should be protected from materialism and professionalism.
Bishop Buckley, who has a deep involvement and love for the sport, was speaking at the official opening of the new Páírc Uí Chaoimh stadium on Sunday.
Bishop Buckley paid tribute to all who are involved in promoting Gaelic Games and referred to the extraordinary contribution that the GAA has made to Irish life down through the years.
Our country would be incredibly the poorer without it, he said.
"No history of the country and its evolution would be incomplete without taking into account the influence of the GAA," he said.
"One need only recall the Irish Civil War to see the healing hand of the GAA at work."
He described the GAA as the greatest amateur organisation in the world and that we should always guard against its erosion by materialism and professionalism, always prioritising the importance of the local club.
"The capacity of the GAA for promoting solidarity, good relations, breaking down barriers and creating a spirit of cooperation is almost unrivalled in Irish history."
Bishop Buckley was accompanied by Bishop Michael Mayes, the retired Church of Ireland Bishop of Limerick who was representing Bishop Paul Colton officiated at a blessing at Páirc Uí Caoimh on Sunday.
He said that society today needs people like the dedicated GAA volunteers and he mentioned grounds people, officers, referees, managers and underage trainers who contribute so much locally.
Bishop Buckley prayed that the magnificent stadium in Cork and its facilities will give great joy and happiness to players and spectators. He prayed for all who would play there in the years ahead and asked that they be kept safe from injury.
Bishop Buckley also remembered and paid tribute to remember former great players who have gone to their eternal reward and who graced the old Athletic Grounds with their skills and talents and he mentioned in particular people like Jack Lynch, Christy Ring, Sean Condon, John Kerins, Tom Creedon, Weeshie Murphy, John Horgan and Dan Hoare who also worked hard for the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh.