In a gesture of solidarity with the people of New Zealand and the Islamic faith worldwide over the massacre of 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin held a service of silence and prayerful reflection on Sunday morning.

The service, which took place ahead of the traditional Aifreann Lá le Pádraig, celebrating the Feast of Saint Patrick and the blessing of the shamrock in St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, attended by President Michael D Higgins, commemorated the 50 innocent people who died in the attack last Friday.

Speaking at the service, Archbishop Martin said, “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.”

The Archbishop of Dublin continued, “The Christian faith stresses the unique dignity of every human person. It insists equally on the unity of the human family.”

He emphasised, “The eradication of racial and religious prejudice demands a change of heart. It calls for a strengthening of spiritual conviction.”

On the dangers of racism and religious intolerance, Archbishop Martin said, “History shows that when racism and religious intolerance are not addressed they contain within themselves a frightening power for fostering hatred and social destruction.”

The Archbishop concluded, “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.”

A book of condolence for the victims of the Christchurch shootings is open in Saint Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Dublin.

ENDS