Christians persecuted over beliefs on marriage and family, says archbishop
LOYALTY to Christian beliefs on the subjects of marriage and abortion can leave people open to "ridicule, condemnation or even persecution", according to the Primate of All Ireland.
Archbishop Eamon Martin said that it is difficult for people's Christian convictions and understandings of marriage, family and human life to remain unswayed as the "pressure on us to conform, to become just like everyone else, is often immense and overpowering".
He made the outspoken comments during his homily at the annual Holy Thursday Chrism Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh.
Archbishop Martin also called upon the congregation to "pray for your priests and bishops" during what can be an "equally challenging" time for those in ministry.
"To be like Christ in an increasingly secularised world often means being different, counter-cultural, and not easily swayed by the prevailing attitudes and opinions around us. This is not easy.
"Sometimes daring to witness openly to our sincerely held Christian convictions can bring upon us ridicule, condemnation or even persecution.
"I am thinking, for example, about our strong beliefs in the sacredness of human life from the first moment of conception until the moment of our natural death; our Church's understanding of marriage and the family; our Catholic social teaching about the fair distribution of goods, care for creation and concern for the weakest and most vulnerable."
Meanwhile, speaking in Dublin's Pro-Cathedral, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said that Pope Francis "can be very critical of priests" and that "not everyone likes" him.
But, he defended the Pope's "high respect for the vocation of the priest", adding that he would never cease to encourage and challenge priests.
He told the congregation in the capital that the "great challenge of the Church today" was not falling attendance numbers or the decline in those committing to religious vocations, but it was the failure to "witness in our lives, the love and the mercy of God".
The Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary said marriage was being rapidly eroded by "serial relationships, co-habitation, divorce and a redefinition of marriage".
"Living as we do in a time of rapid cultural change with its non-stop transformation can be deeply unsettling. We witness the breakdown of the institutions of social life," he said, adding many "great forces" such as the financial markets are becoming more volatile.
He also told those gathered that the consumerisation of society can be very subtle but very damaging.