Today, 17 March 2019, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, delivered his Saint Patrick’s Day message 2019 to the people of Ireland.
Archbishop Martin said: “Forty years ago Pope John Paul II visited Ireland, as a pilgrim for peace.
“Standing for the first time on Irish soil, the Successor of Peter recalled how Saint Patrick lit the Paschal Fire in Ireland, ‘so that the light of Christ might shine forth on all of Ireland and unite all of its people in the love of the one Jesus Christ’.”
The Archbishop recalled how in 1979 Pope John Paul II spoke about Christ as Prince of Peace, and against the construction of “barriers of hate and mistrust”, such as the heavily militarised and monitored border between the north and south of Ireland.
Archbishop Martin added: “His words have a heart-breaking poignancy for the whole of humanity this weekend as we try to come to terms with the slaughter of the innocence at prayer in New Zealand last Friday.”
He continued: “As a young eighteen year old, the words of now-Saint John Paul moved me greatly, especially when he called for respect for the inalienable rights and dignity of the human person, for the spirit of Christian love and forgiveness, and for a complete rejection of violence. In fervent prayer, he invoked the help of Saint Patrick to “watch over Ireland. Protect humanity”.”
In an Ireland of uncertainty over Brexit, where relationships across the island may be becoming more strained and fragile, Archbishop Eamon said: “This year on Saint Patrick’s Day I therefore offer that same prayer, “Saint Patrick, watch over Ireland. Protect humanity”.”
The Archbishop noted how Mr John Hume would 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”.”
He continued: “If we have learned anything since the Good Friday Agreement, twenty-one years ago, 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.”
Archbishop Martin spoke of how Saint Patrick himself stood up for the dignity of the human person during his ministry. The Archbishop said: “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 added: “If we are to find a way forward and face our many challenges, we need to recover that spirit of fraternity and “strive to do bigger and better things” (Confession 47). As Saint Patrick himself prayed, may God’s strength “pilot us” in the coming days, months and years.”
Archbishop Martin concluded: “Agus go dtuga Naomh Pádraig aire daoibh, go dtreoraí sé sibh agus bhur gclanna; go dtuga sé a dhea-mhéin chun bhur muintire agus chun cairde uilig na hÉireann ar fuaid an domhain, inniu agus i gcónaí [May Saint Patrick watch over and guide you, your family and loved ones and all friends of Ireland throughout the world, today and always].”