Archbishop cautions against ‘frightening power’ of intolerance as seen in Christchurch shootings

Racism and religious intolerance or attempts to demonise the faith of another cannot be allowed to assume even a token tone of respectability and reasonableness, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has said.

Archbishop Martin said he felt it would somehow be “incongruous” to hold the joyful celebration of the feast of St Patrick in St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral without first finding a moment to pause and reflect on those who died in the Christchurch shootings in New Zealand.

It was a horrific event that took place at the other side of the world but it was one that involved all of us, he told those attending. President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina were among the congregation.

President Higgins signs a book of condolence before the memorial service (Niall Carson/PA)

“The brutal murder of 50 innocent people anywhere would itself be a deplorable event of world dimensions,” the Archbishop said.

To attack innocent people of prayer in two mosques just because they were of a different faith was something that offended Christian culture, said the archbishop.

“It is something that offends our own Irish culture just as it offends the culture of New Zealand, a country known for its tolerance and welcome,” he said.

Archbishop Martin said they remembered those who died in the attack, those who mourned the loss of loved ones and those who were injured.

“We express our solidarity with the people of New Zealand. We express our solidarity with our Islamic brothers and sisters here in Ireland and worldwide,” he said.

We were all of God’s same race, said Dr Martin.

“Hatred and intolerance that in any way undermine that fundamental unity of humankind is an attack on the God who created us as a single human family,” he said.

The eradication of racial and religious prejudice demanded a change of heart. It called for a strengthening of spiritual conviction.

“Racism and religious intolerance or attempts to demonise the faith of another cannot be allowed to assume even a token tone of respectability and reasonableness,” he added.

“There is no such thing as half racism. There is no such thing as partial intolerance. There is no way in which any society can think that racist and religious intolerance should take on any place within it.”

Archbishop Martin said history showed that when racism and religious intolerance were not addressed, they contained within themselves a “frightening power” for fostering hatred and social destruction.

A book of condolence for the victims of the Christchurch shootings is open in the Pro-cathedral.

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