By Sarah Mac Donald - 21 September, 2015
The Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin has paid tribute to St Padre Pio describing him as “a lamp of God’s mercy”.
In his homily in Knock for the annual Padre Pio pilgrimage, the Archbishop of Armagh highlighted the Italian Saint’s commitment to poverty, chastity and obedience as a Capuchin, his acceptance of ecclesiastical discipline, his suffering, his hours spent hearing confession, his construction of a hospital to alleviate illness, his intense prayer.
All of these, he said, are “indicators of someone who had mercy burning within him”.
Recalling Padre Pio’s empathy with the seven sorrows of the ‘Mater Dolorosa’, Archbishop Martin set out his reflection on the seven modern-day ‘dolors’ or ‘sorrows’.
The first he identified as the abortion of millions of innocent unborn children in the world, and “how this seems to be taken so much for granted, even though every human life is precious”.
The second he said was neglect of the earth – ‘our common home’ – as Pope Francis called it in his encyclical, Laudato Si. “That so many people on this planet suffer poverty, are exploited and starved of the world’s resources, calls each of us to conversion, to make some sacrifices and never to waste or take for granted what we have,” the Primate said.
His third example of a modern-day ‘dolor’ or sorrow is the displacement of people as refugees through war and persecution. “Let us commit ourselves and our parishes to embrace refugees and migrants to Ireland with open arms and Christian charity,” he urged.
Human trafficking is his fourth modern-day sorrow.
“Millions of people – particularly women and children – are trafficked like slaves around the world each year and exploited for cheap labour and prostitution including, sadly, even here in Ireland. We must act and be ever vigilant to prevent human trafficking.”
The fifth modern day dolor he identified as the sorrow of addiction which affects too many of our people – be it addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling or, increasingly nowadays, addiction on the Internet, for example to gaming or pornography.
“All kinds of addiction disrupt relationships and drain the joy out of daily life. Pray for addicts and support recovery programmes,” Dr Martin commented.
His sixth sorrow is the quest in many countries to pass legislation that will allow assisted suicide or euthanasia.
“I think our energies should be directed towards quality hospice care so that the elderly are never made feel a burden and terminally ill patients, and so that their families are always entitled to the best of dignified support in their final days.”
As his seventh dolor of the modern world, he chose indifference which, he suggested, in many ways links the other ‘sorrows’ together.
“It is that ‘I don’t really care?’ attitude which sadly is more and more common today – indifference to the problems of the world, to the sins against the sacredness of human life, to modern forms of enslavement, to the waste of the earth’s resources, to the plight of the poor and the suffering,” Archbishop Martin said.
Indifference, he warned, turns us more and more in on ourselves. It makes us more selfish and demanding, so conscious of our individual rights and personal autonomy, that we don’t really care about our responsibilities to others, especially the weakest and most vulnerable.
Indifference says, “It’s my money, my land, my relationship, it’s my body, it’s my life and I shall do what I want with it. I think the root of indifference is not wanting Jesus into your life in any meaningful way which would make a difference to how you live or what you do.”
Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland said, offers a key to unlock the indifference to the Gospel that is at the root of so much suffering and sorrow in the world, through the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which begins on 8 December next.