A line must not be drawn under legacy issues, says archbishop

‘Victims have spoken about the importance of continued access to justice,’ says Martin

No line can easily be drawn on our past in Ireland, Catholic Primate Archbishop Eamon Martin has said.

“As we begin a New Year, conversations are already taking place about what constitutional change and greater sharing on this island might look like,” he said.

“Clearly, the issues of legacy and the reality of trauma experienced by many families here must be included and handled sensitively in these conversations,” he said in a New Year message.

“Victims have spoken about the importance of continued access to justice, together with meaningful opportunities for truth and information recovery. No line can easily be drawn on our past and there is clearly much work to be done in exploring and building a unity of hearts and minds towards a shared vision for our future in this island.”

Referring to the controversial service in Armagh last October, which marked the centenary of Northern Ireland and in which he took part, he recalled how "during the service I expressed a personal sense of sadness and loss at the partition of Ireland and, with my fellow religious leaders, I acknowledged that perhaps we in the churches could have done more to deepen our understanding of each other and to bring healing and peace to our divided and wounded communities."

Referring to “the importance of intergenerational partnership and dialogue on the island of Ireland”, he recalled how at the service they had been “blessed that so many young people took part.” They had “made such a refreshing and positive contribution” and were “the ones to help to build the bridges necessary to overcome the mistrust and divisions of our past.”

It was the case too that "the voices of young people were loud and clear at the COP26 conference in Glasgow in October." They were "strongly committed to dialogue and mutual respect between faith and science, while remaining determined to call out needless waste, ruthless exploitation and destruction of our planet's resources."

He felt “a fitting New Year’s resolution for all of us in Church and in society, might be to invest more of our time and resources, listening, dialogue and prayer in our young people.”

As the Omicron variant sweeps the country, Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell commented that "our abject failure to vaccinate people in the developing world is now coming back to haunt us. The common good, which in this instance is the protection of people, must have a global dimension.

"The problem untimely lies in the fairness of distribution rather than scarcity of vaccine doses," he said in a World Day of Peace sermon at Our Lady of Victories church in Ballymun.

“We need to put the human person, no matter what their colour or nationality ‘at the centre’ of all political, social and economic activity,” he said. “The pandemic challenges us on the personal, social, and spiritual levels,” he said. “Church and civic leaders alike, along with all people of goodwill, must walk together with courage and creativity on the path of intergenerational dialogue, education and work.”

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times