Service of Reflection on Christchurch Shootings

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Words of  Archbishop Diarmuid Martin



Pro-Cathedral Dublin, 17 March 2019


I felt that it would somehow be incongruous to hold our regular joyful celebration of the Feast of Saint Patrick here in the Pro-Cathedral, without first finding a moment to pause and reflect on a horrific event which took place on the other side of the world but which involves us all.

The brutal murder of 49 innocent people anywhere would in itself alone be a deplorable event of world dimensions.

The inspiration of the event in Christchurch – to attack people of prayer just because they were of a different faith – is something that offends Christian culture; it offends our own Irish culture just as it offends the culture of New Zealand a country known for its tolerance and welcome.

In silence, let us remember those who died, those who mourn and those injured.   We express our solidarity with the people of New Zealand.  We express our solidarity with our Islamic brothers and sisters here in Ireland and worldwide.

The Christian faith stresses the unique dignity of every human person.  It insists equally on the unity of the human family.  While throughout history there may have been dispersion of peoples or the accentuation of difference, all people are essentially destined to form one sole family according to God’s plan established `in the beginning’.  We are all of God’s same race.

Hatred and intolerance that in any way undermine that fundamental unity of human kind are an attack on the God who created us as a single human family.

The eradication of racial and religious prejudice demands a change of heart.  It calls for a strengthening of spiritual conviction.

Racism and religious intolerance or the attempt to demonize the faith of another cannot ever be allowed to assume even a token tone of respectability or reasonableness.  There is no such thing as half racism or partial intolerance. There is no way any society can think that racist or religious tolerance should any place within it. The Church of Jesus Christ and Christian believers must constantly be alert not to fall prey to the temptation of intolerance.    History shows that when racism and religious intolerance are not addressed they contain within themselves a frightening power for fostering hatred and social destruction.

We celebrate the Feast of Saint Patrick, our national feast.    We thank God for the gift of tolerance and respect which we can enjoy in our nation.   We pledge ourselves to rigorously defend and foster that gift.  ENDS