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Archbishop Martin decries racism and intolerance

By Sarah Mac Donald - 17 August, 2020

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. (Pic Dublin Archdiocese)

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has decried recent incidents of racism, intolerance and disrespectful language, warning that racist intolerance is always “a one-way street towards negativity and disrespect”.

In his homily at Dublin’s Pro Cathedral on Sunday, Archbishop Martin said he was “scared when I hear stories of racist intolerance by groups of young people. They may not realise how damaging their behaviour is, but racist language is never fun.”

He added that racist intolerance is always “an affront to the dignity of those who are its objects”.

Dr Martin’s comments follow the publication of a video on social media showing Xuedan (Shelley) Xiong being allegedly racially abused before she was pushed backwards, by members of a group of young people, into the Royal Canal in Dublin on Friday evening.

Gardaí are investigating the incident which involved a group of teenagers and occurred near Ashtown in Dublin.

According to Ms Xiong, before being pushed into the canal, one member of the group had referenced the Coronavirus and made other racist comments as they passed her as she was walking along the canal path.

She told them “that’s racial discrimination, stop it.”

Speaking to RTE’s This Week programme, Ms Xiong said, “I couldn’t put up with this anymore … they targeted me and there was a racial element there.”

Responding to the incident, well known Kildare & Leighlin priest, Fr Paddy Byrne tweeted, “As an Island, we have embraced values of inclusion, equality, tolerance and compassion. This image of a lady being so racially bullied and violently attacked makes us all feel simply …… sickened.”

In his homily on Sunday, Archbishop Martin warned that wherever intolerance has become dominant in society, society has been impoverished and undermined.

Dr Martin also underlined that there is a growing polarisation in some circles within the Church. “There are those who feel that they can be zealously defending the Church while they are intolerant and disrespectful to those with whom they disagree.”

“Hatred and intolerance can never foster goodness and love. Hate language can never be reconciled with the teaching of Jesus. When believers and indeed Church communities become narrow minded and judgemental, they leave people marginalised and unloved with their hope blunted and their dignity broken,” he said in St Mary’s Pro Cathedral in Dublin.

He noted that throughout the history of the Church, some believers have built “barriers of narrowness and bitterness”, thinking they are being zealous in defending the message of Jesus.

“The teaching of Jesus can never envisage intolerance or bigotry toward people we consider different. The truth must always be sought in love,” the Archbishop said.

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