On Saturday evening at 7.00pm in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, will offer Mass in solidarity and prayer for the people of Manchester and all those affected by the Manchester arena bombing this week. Archbishop Eamon is inviting people in and around the Archdiocese of Armagh to attend this special Mass.
In an interview on this week’s episode of Faithcast, our weekly faith podcast, Archbishop Eamon gave his reaction to the bombing. He said, “Like most people, when I heard the news about Manchester, I was shocked, horrified really, that such an awful thing could happen so close to us. I was thinking immediately about the children and the young people who were caught up in it. An attack like this, which is so violent and so brutal, just brings terror among us and I just get a sense that something like this will take a long time to heal, particularly for the families and those who were caught up in it in one way or another, maybe those who lost a loved one, someone who was injured or maybe just someone who was at the concert and got home safely but just now contemplates how awful this attack was. I really just thought there but for the grace of God go I and go all of us.”
The universal Church will be celebrating World Communications Day on Sunday 28 May. The theme chose by the Holy Father for this year’s celebration is ‘Communicating Hope and Trust in Our Time’. Speaking about the pertinence of this theme in light of the Manchester arena bombing, Archbishop Eamon said, “I think it’s really fitting that Pope Francis’ message is about communicating hope in our time because Pope Francis himself draws to what he calls the vicious circle of bad news that’s out there, the terrible stories that we see every evening in the news or follow on social media about war and terrorism, and then there’s all those other stories about scandals and human failure and discontent.
“Pope Francis says, in the middle of all of that, we as a Christian people, who are an Easter people, want to try to bring a message of hope, love and joy. If you think of the terrible event that happened in Manchester this week, but alongside it the fact that there were so many beautiful acts of love, charity, care, concern, solidarity. We’ve seen in all of the coverage just this amazing outreach that has happened both within Manchester and to Manchester from around the world and from Ireland in particular. As Pope Francis has said, we’ve got to hold on to hope, we’ve got to keep hope alive, we’ve got to get that message out there of ‘Do not be afraid’, that there is so much good and so much love in the world, in families, in communities, in parishes, and we’ve got to try to ensure that we don’t despair.
“The reason we do all this is because we look at everything through the the lens of the Good News of Jesus Christ, who came to die for us and who had that victory over darkness and evil and despair. So I think Pope Francis’ message about communicating hope in our time is very fitting for this weekend.”
Asked if there are ways that people of faith can respond this coming weekend to the Pope’s call to ‘Communicate Hope and Trust’ and to the atrocity in Manchester, Archbishop Eamon said, “Well I think it’s very important for us to pray. I contacted Bishop Arnold, who is the Catholic Bishop of Salford where Manchester is to just to assure him that we in Ireland will be praying and remembering the people of Manchester and all those affected in prayers at Masses this weekend. I think also this weekend that it would be a great thing for families maybe before they eat together on Sunday or at the weekend, just to stop and talk a little bit about how important love and family is to them and the importance of looking after each other and believing the world is still a good place despite these incidents of terror and violence and brutality, and that we all have the power to bring love and hope and joy into the world rather than darkness and evil and sin. So I think, as well as praying this weekend, maybe if we could have conversations with our loved ones to tell them how much they mean to us, our family and our friends, and how important is it for us to share good news in the midst of a world that is dogged and fascinated and obsessive about bad news.”
Archbishop Eamon said that one of the things he has noticed this week on social media is a lot of messages going around which can pull people down and cause despair. He has invited people to use social media to share and spread some good news about positive things that are happening in their lives and to consider using hashtags of hope like: #BeeNotAfraid #KeepHopeAlive or #HopePrevails.
You can listen to Archbishop Eamon’s Faithcast interview here.