The Primate of All-Ireland has offered prayers to St Patrick, asking him to “watch over Ireland” and “protect humanity” amid Brexit uncertainty.
The Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, revealed that he has been hearing families across Ireland express anxiety about what the future might hold.
In his St Patrick’s Day message to the people of Ireland, the primate noted that many people are discussing Brexit and how it is bringing strain and fragility to relationships within Ireland. “This St Patrick’s Day I therefore offer that same prayer, ‘St Patrick, watch over Ireland. Protect humanity’, he said as he celebrated the saint’s feast day on Sunday 17th March.
The archbishop cited former Irish politician John Hume, who he described as “one of the great architects of our peace process”.
He noted that Mr Hume, a founding member of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), “used to speak of the border not simply as ‘a line on a map’, but as the institutionalised division that can exist for centuries ‘in hearts and minds’.
“If we have learned anything since the Good Friday Agreement, it is that partnership and tolerance, mutual trust and respect, equality and a complete renunciation of violence, are essential for the building of a lasting and just peace,” he continued.
“All the more reason then for us to resolve, in the name of St Patrick, to avoid any return to an infrastructure of suspicion and division which could so easily set back decades of progress.”
Archbishop Martin pointed out that St Patrick, during his ministry, was not afraid to speak up strongly for the dignity of the human person.
“He was a champion for dialogue and for the peaceful resolution of problems. He offered friendship and forgiveness to his former captors and even to the corrupt slave-trader, Coroticus, who attacked his newly-baptised converts,” he said.
The archbishop said that he hopes the prayers and example of St Patrick will help politicians and society to treat each other with respect.
“If we are to find a way forward and face our challenges, we need to recover that spirit of fraternity and ‘strive to do bigger and better things’. As St Patrick himself prayed, may God’s strength ‘pilot us’ in the coming days, months and years.”
Picture: Literature on display at ‘Beyond Brexit – The Future of Ireland’, an event focusing on how Irish nationalism should respond to Brexit. (Brian Lawless/PA).