Brady asks if Irish people have lost capacity to forgive


THE CATHOLIC primate Cardinal Seán Brady has asked whether Irish people have lost their capacity for mercy and forgiveness. “Have we become too aggressive and impatient in relation to the weaknesses and failings of others,” he asked yesterday.

Speaking at a Mass in Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, held to mark the 200th anniversary of St Nathy’s College there, he said: “I sometimes wonder if we are in danger of losing our sense of mercy and forgiveness in Ireland today.”

He continued: “We are certainly a generous and tolerant people. But are we truly merciful and forgiving?” He recalled that for Cardinal John Henry Newman, who will be beatified by the pope in Birmingham next Sunday, “mercy was the defining characteristic of the Christian faith. Is it too much to hope that it might one day be the defining characteristic of our society and culture as well?”

Noting that readings at the Mass yesterday “celebrate the mercy of God” he said that “of course strict justice would have struck down the worshippers of the Golden Calf and [St] Paul who had done all he could to injure and discredit the faith”.

But, he said, “fortunately for them, and for us, the justice of God is tempered by mercy. In fact nothing shows forth God’s love so clearly as God’s willingness to forgive. Strength is at its greatest when it is expressed in patient forgiveness, understanding and mercy”.

Referring to St Nathy’s he said it was “a great privilege to play a part in the bicentenary celebrations of this highly acclaimed and internationally respected school”.

Many past pupils had “given their lives to the service of the citizens of this country.

“They reached the top in education, business, the professions, the media, the civil service and the security services”, he said, while many others gave their lives as bishops and priests in the service of the Catholic faith.

Referring to “the great legacy of generosity, courage and strength of character and virtue which echo down the corridors of this great school”, he said that “if these walls could speak they would regale us with words of enthusiasm”.