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Archbishop concerned at pandemic’s impact on mental health

By Sarah Mac Donald - 24 August, 2020

Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin (Photo: John McElroy)

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has expressed concern over the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on people’s mental health and sense of worth, warning that some may give into despair.

In his homily at Mass on Sunday, the Archbishop said that in the midst of the current difficulties, “we need to be building a society that will reach out to those who find themselves unexpectedly in dramatic situations and create a culture in which no one is ever driven to despair.”

“We are facing very difficult times in our world. The pandemic threatens relentlessly. We face unknown threats. Many may unexpectedly find themselves facing shattering change in their lives. Jobs will be lost, even among those who has never before experienced insecurity.”

He added that this may well challenge people’s mental health and their sense of personal identity and worth, while some may be tempted to give in to a pattern of despair.

In the troubles of our times, the Archbishop said, the Church must become “the warm embrace of God’s love for all those who are tempted and tried by distress and anxiety”.

Elsewhere in his homily, Dr Martin stressed that the Church should never forget – as it has done in the past – that the message of Jesus is “not a harsh judgmental one that grinds people down, but always one of hope that enhances people and restores them”.

He added that the Christian community must be one of generosity and solidarity alongside those who experience poverty and self-doubt.

“It must also be a community where the hope that comes from the fidelity of God to his people gives hope to people in our time in the face of challenges they may never have expected. Jesus loves us whoever we are. He loves us when we flourish, and he loves us when we fail.”

The Church is called to make present among men and women, wounded by so many divisions and conflicts, so many sufferings and uncertainties, God’s peace and the hope-filled power of his love.

Archbishop Martin said the Church and the community of believers in Jesus are called to constant conversion, to purify the Church to be a Church with faith and trust in Jesus. “That purification is not about external structures as such, but as to how those structures reach out to others mirroring the God of love revealed in Jesus Christ.”

He warned that an inward-looking Church will miss the point and become “zealous about irrelevant or marginal things or even the opposite to what the Church of Jesus Christ is called to be”.

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