Sunday 15 September 2019

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin hits out at ongoing gang warfare in Dublin

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. Photo: Frank McGrath
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. Photo: Frank McGrath

Sarah Mac Donald

In the strongest terms, the head of the Catholic Church in Dublin has hit out at the ongoing gang warfare in the capital condemning the “sick individuals who murder openly on our streets” and the “evil individuals who instruct and pay them”.

In his Christmas homily, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin asked if the birth of Christ, the Prince of Peace, meant anything to them?

His comments were made as armed members of an elite Garda unit patrol the streets of the capital this Christmas in an effort to prevent further bloodshed in the Hutch-Kinahan feud which has already claimed 11 lives in 14 months. On Thursday night, the latest victim, Noel Kirwan was shot dead in Clondalkin.

On Friday, Dr Martin told RTE Radio that the feud was linked to “a multi-million euro business of death called the drugs trade”. 

Speaking at St Mary’s Pro Cathedral in Dublin on Christmas day, the Archbishop listed a litany of social ills afflicting Irish society and asked if there was any way those who are victims of domestic violence or sexual violence, of road violence or the violence of economic exploitation, can experience the joy of Christmas.

“Our city is marked by homelessness but also indeed for many by hopelessness. We have very high suicide rates and so many are searching for real hope in the face of an economic crisis, in the face of loneliness and emptiness and the illusion of drugs or empty consumerism,” he warned.

Referring to the recent queues of up to 3,000 people for Christmas food parcels at the Capuchin Day Centre in Dublin, Dr Martin stated, “All of us were stunned even here in our own city to find thousands of people queuing for basic food at the Capuchin and other food centres, while within a few kilometres others were queuing for luxury goods.”

In a reference to how the economy is failing so many, he stressed, “Technical progress must be matched by progress in true humanism. True progress is progress for all.” 

Acknowledging how Christmas brings joy which touches hearts like no other feast, bringing out real goodness even in the hardest of hearts, he said believers cannot be satisfied simply to celebrate Christmas “like an anaesthetic which hides pain for a moment or like an eruption of spending which ends up leaving us only with a hangover of emptiness”.

He also questioned how God as the Prince of Peace could be explained to a war-torn world where the “perennial desire of humankind for peace is being martyred daily” and the ambition to save succeeding generations from the “scourge of war” was rendered a “cynical empty dream”.

Posing the question, “Where is our God?” Dr Martin said the problem is that people look for God in the wrong places.

The shepherds at the first Christmas were led to “a small baby living without not just the external signs of power: he is born with only the simplest necessities in total contradiction of what we are led to consider power”.

The birth of Jesus in powerlessness and poverty teaches us that we seek hope somewhere else than in a constant seeking for power, Dr Martin said and added that believers should be seeking “to bring light to all those who live in darkness and in a land of deep shadow”.

In his Christmas message, Archbishop Michael Jackson of Dublin and Glendalough expressed concern for those in cities and townlands across Ireland who struggle, often without hope, to make ends meet and who are homeless and loveless.

He also highlighted the plight of people in “cities and wastelands across Europe and the Middle East and Africa whose only hope of a future is to flee everything that once was theirs amidst trafficking, the dismantling of their dignity and the care and worry for those who remain dependent on them.”

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