ARCHBISHOP Diarmuid Martin yesterday launched a strong challenge against criminal gangs who use violence as "a sphere of darkness" to control individuals and society.
Speaking in Dublin's Pro-Cathedral, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin's Easter message tackled head-on those in society behind criminal violence.
And in a reference to the recent dissident republican violence in the North, Dr Martin insisted the peace of Easter also challenged those who espoused political violence.
"The only thing that we can say definitively about violence is that violence belongs definitively to the sphere of darkness," Dr Martin said.
He told the congregation: "As we gather in peaceful prayer to reflect on the mystery of life, in dark corners of our city, of our country and of our world, people are planning criminal undertakings and violence.
"These advocates of violence, like those who condemned Jesus, feel somehow that they have in their hands the power to achieve their sordid plans definitively.
"They feel that violence or economic power puts them in control, that they can control the lives of others as they wish."
However, Dr Martin warned that "violence only generates further violence and a culture of untruth generates more untruth".
Describing the death of Jesus Christ as "one of the darkest nights that marks human history", Dr Martin said that darkness continued today, but Christ's resurrection meant evil could never triumph.
"Men and women and helpless children languish in the darkness of poverty and hunger and exploitation," he added.
Meanwhile, the new Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin devoted his sermon to how the Easter message contained the power to transform Christians.
Preaching in Christ Church Cathedral, Archbishop Michael Jackson said it was very difficult to transform others, if Anglicans were resistant to transforming themselves.
The Rt Revd Jackson suggested transformation could come about if Anglicans and other Christians spoke confidently and honestly about what happened in history and why it mattered.