Ireland and Europe have strong bond, claims Martin


THE CATHOLIC Archbishop of Dublin Most Rev Diarmuid Martin told a meeting at the European Commission in Brussels yesterday that “Ireland needs Europe, but Europe also needs Ireland”.

Ireland and Irish believers wished “to be part of a strong European programme for renewed growth with equity and solidarity,’’ he said. He continued: “This desire is a natural fruit of Ireland’s strong European vocation rooted in its unique history, which includes its religious heritage.”

“A pluralist Europe does not mean a secularist Europe; Europe needs its religious heritage and can only benefit from welcoming and respecting that religious heritage. Hopefully, Ireland’s believers will feel more and more welcome to play their part in the future of Europe, as they have done right throughout their history,’’ he said.

The archbishop was the only Irish representative among 20 religious leaders who were invited to a meeting with the president of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso yesterday. It was the fifth in a series of annual high-level meetings between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the president of the European Council, within the framework outlined in the draft Lisbon Treaty on structured dialogue between the commission, churches and faith groups.

The theme of the meeting was the ethical contribution to the economic crisis and the challenges facing Europe and the world.

‘’There is need for a positive ethical thrust which firmly lays down the challenge of fostering the common good, and especially of the protection of the weakest and most vulnerable,’’ the archbishop told the meeting.

“We need such a positive ethical thrust adapted to the needs of the times. He said a poverty strategy was “not a luxury for times of prosperity’’ and that the Millennium Development Goals were “not just targets of international philanthropy; they are part of a project for global sustainability and of a model of human solidarity.”

Speaking to the media, he said the Irish bishops had not yet discussed the second Lisbon referendum, but they would wait to see “exactly what is being proposed’’.