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Archbishop distressed by those fomenting hostility towards asylum seekers

By Sarah Mac Donald - 08 November, 2019

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

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has spoken of his distress over groups in Ireland who are fomenting “hostility” towards asylum seekers “on false grounds”.

Appealing for Ireland to always be “an Ireland of welcome” for the distressed, he said asylum seekers are coming from troubled situations and seek a safer life for themselves and their families.

In his homily at a Mass in the Church of St Mary & St Peter in Arklow on Thursday evening to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Muire na Trócaire company of the Girls Guides in 1939, Dr Martin appealed to today’s young Guides not to be afraid to stand up against any trace of intolerance and disregard for those who are different.

“Difference enriches our society. I trust that you will welcome girls of different cultural backgrounds into your ranks,” he said.

“You must be guides of the twenty-first century. You must be in the foreground of addressing new challenges,” he told them and paid tribute to their rejection of a culture of drugs which he said “witnesses to the fact that we discover the meaning of life in living a good and outward looking life”.

He also told the young Guides that their generation put his generation to shame with their commitment to protecting the environment. “Never feel that you are too young to effect change for the good,” he told them.

Recalling the context in which the Muire na Trocaire company of the Girl Guides was founded in 1939, Archbishop Martin said there was an “atmosphere of gloom and anxiety” as “dark clouds” were appearing over many countries in Europe and over democracy in Europe.

“Nazi Germany began a programme of expansion and smaller nations felt afraid. After an initial response of appeasement, people began to realise that a policy called appeasement did not in fact appease Germany, but whetted its appetite for more daring expansion.”

The spirit of being a Girl Guide was about a sense of responsibility. “Whatever we do as individuals has an effect on the lives of others.”

Referring to the readings in the Mass, the Archbishop said they were a reminder that we should never pass judgment on others or treat them with contempt.

“There was a sense in which that spark of generosity that marked the foundation of the Guides in Arklow was precisely the opposite to the atmosphere of terror and fear that was spreading across Europe,” in 1939.

Speaking of the values of the Guides, Dr Martin said that for the Christian, the greatest is one who recognises the value of the weakest and the most humble. “The Christian can never despise anyone because he or she might be weak or considered of less importance in society.”

Working for a better society is not simply about the burden of service he highlighted and added, “Serving as a Girl Guide is also about enjoyment, about doing things together, about the joy of having done something for others and having experienced the help, support and encouragement of others.”

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