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Archbishop says faith must retain place in public square

By Sarah Mac Donald - 23 October, 2013

Archbishop Eamon Martin. (Photo: RTE)

Archbishop Eamon Martin. (Photo: RTE)

The future Primate of All Ireland has said that bringing faith and reason together in a healthy tension will lead to a richer debate in the public square.

Speaking on RTE Television’s ‘Beyond Belief’ programme on Monday night, Co-adjutor Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Eamon Martin, warned that confining faith to the private sphere of the home and church and removing it from the public square would “hugely impoverish” belief.

“I think it would impoverish society if the voice of religion was not heard in the midst of some of these great public debates,” he commented and added that this was particularly so in relation to the debate on human life.

The dignity of every human life, particularly the most vulnerable, is an issue of concern to everyone – be that people of faith, of no faith, or some faith, he said.

He commented that the belief in the dignity of every human person was sacred and at the core of society.

Those speaking about matters of human life are speaking from the perspective of faith but also from reason, he explained.

Archbishop Martin was taking part of a panel discussion on whether there is a culture of hostility towards religion in the Irish media.

The Archbishop admitted that there was a lack of confidence among many clerics and bishops to engage with the media and he agreed that this was an issue which needed to be looked at.

He said he often felt that stories in the media on the Church were overly negative but he added that might be what makes a news story – stories that are juicy, scandalous and about conflict.

However, he noted that “There is a whole digital continent out there and there are a lot of people who are looking to connect and engage.”

He also suggested that the Church needed to look at creating more forums where faith could be discussed and he lent his support to blogging as a way of helping people to form and develop arguments around faith.

The future leader of the Irish Church regretted that the Society of St Vincent de Paul’s input on the recent Budget had been largely overlooked by the media.

Explaining his choice of ‘Sing a new song’ as a motto, Dr Martin said it was about “renewal – freshness – and trying to reach out people in the world when they have no song.” He added, “It is also a personal challenge to me for conversion.”

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