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Primate concerned that hard borders accentuate differences

By Sarah Mac Donald - 13 June, 2017

Archbishop Eamon Martin has expressed concern that a return to borders, checkpoints and customs will accentuate the differences across the island of Ireland and could “play into the hands of those who would exploit it”.

In an interview in the current issue of the international Catholic weekly, the Tablet, the Primate of All Ireland appeals to politicians to come up with a common position on Brexit negotiations to ensure that what happened to “the same people who suffered during the Troubles, the people from the most deprived areas, the people who were very much fodder for extremists … wouldn’t happen again.”

Elsewhere in the interview, responding to a question on whether the Church in Ireland can ever recover from the child abuse scandals, Archbishop Martin responds, “I don’t think it will go away. Nor should it … it’s a shadow of our past … so we live with that, knowing that any discomfort we might feel in the Church is nothing compared with those who are our own brothers and sisters who have to carry the experience of being abused.”

Speaking about the new context for the Church in Ireland, challenged by secularisation, Dr Martin suggests that the Church has to accept the reality that “in many people’s lives faith does not impinge any more”.

If Catholicism is to engage with this reality, he believes it cannot only be at the level of bishops and priests.

Renewal of Irish Catholicism can only come about with the support of lay people. “Because we had a culture that was dominated by the priest, a lot of articulate, professional, educated lay people tended not to get engaged.”

In this “new time” for the Church clericalism no longer prevails.

“We will need this flank of lay people, calling them forward, because I do believe the Holy Spirit gives the gifts, the charisms that are needed … to enable many of our lay faithful to take up their rightful place in this discussion.”

See www.thetablet.co.uk.

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