Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, spoke with Rhona Tarrant, Dublin correspondent for America magazine, during the recent Ad Limina visit of the Irish bishops to Rome. Leading this year’s visit, Archbishop Eamon said that “a lot has changed for us” since the last Ad Limina in 2006.
Speaking on declining vocations to religious life and the growing importance of lay people in the Church, Archbishop Eamon said, “There are increased pressures on priests because they have to deal with larger numbers of people. Ireland had become overly ‘clericalised’. The priest did everything and everyone was serving the priest. Now we have to get into a culture where there are few religious people and lay people are called forward for roles in decision-making.”
Archbishop Eamon also spoke on the unique set of challenges facing the cross-border Archdiocese of Armagh following the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union: “We’re back to talking about borders between the north and south and restrictions on the movements of goods and a fear among some people of a restriction on a movement of people, despite the assurances of Prime Minister Teresa May and Ireland’s Taoiseach Enda Kenny and other political leaders that this won’t happen.”
He also spoke on the effects of the recent dissolution of Stormont, having recently released a statement asking politicians to realise the importance of stability. Archbishop Eamon said, “I was disappointed because the politicians were at last getting down to issues like the economy, health and creating a brighter future. There’s a whole generation that has grown up without violence, so it was a heartfelt plea not to let the progress slip away.”
He added, “You cannot underestimate the importance of the Good Friday Agreement. People around the world look to Northern Ireland as an example of people sorting out their differences. But here is a legacy of hurt and a deep legacy of suffering and we all need to play a part to work through it. We cannot leave a vacuum.
“Just last week a police officer was shot by dissident republicans in Belfast. But what gives me consolation is that politicians from all sides and church leaders from all sides were condemning it. We won’t let go of the progress we’ve made.”
America magazine is the leading Catholic journal of opinion in the United States. Other topics covered in the article include the recent HIAI report and Church patronage of schools. Click here to read the full article on the America magazine website.