Thursday, October 27, 2016

Independent body to investigate sex abuse complaints

Complaints of church-based sexual abuse in Australia’s internal province of Victoria will be investigated by an independent body with its own board of directors. 

The dioceses of Melbourne and Bendigo have already approved the new structure, which will be considered by the dioceses of Wangaratta, Ballarat and Gippsland next year. 

The new body is being established by the Church but is separate from the dioceses and their archbishop. It will work across a number of dioceses.
The new body is included in new legislation approved by the Melbourne Synod at its meeting last week. The new legislation – created in part as a response to the Royal Commission and the 2013 Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into child sexual abuse – is “aimed at improving transparency, independence and avenues of redress for victims,” a diocesan spokesman said.

“There’s a need to act, and there’s a need to act now because we know enough to know what we should be doing,” Melbourne registrar Ken Spackman said, as he addressed the Synod meeting. He said that the chairman of the Royal Commission, Peter McClellan, had spoken twice to meetings of Anglican bishops and “dismissed the difficulties that we have”.

Mr McClellan added: “He has come back to ‘You have the ability to act if you wish, and you should wish’, and we do wish and this is why we are before you tonight.”

The Chancellor, Michael Shand QC, said that the bill “mandates a caring and transparent process; one with compassion, integrity, clarity and respect for all involved”.

He said several Royal Commission hearings heard “horrific evidence of persistent child abuse by (Anglican) clergy and others” that caused incalculable damage to survivors and their families, and called into question the conduct of diocesan bishops at the time.

Earlier this month, Roger Herft, the Archbishop of Perth, in the internal province of Western Australia, announced that he was “standing aside” from his duties after he admitted that he failed to act on repeated reports that priests in his former diocese of Newcastle were sexually abusing children.

In August, he told Australia’s Royal Commission that he had previously given “incorrect” evidence under oath when he denied knowing accusations against a priest. Evidence later showed that he was warned on three separate occasions that the man was a sexual abuser.

In a letter to his diocese announcing the move, Archbishop Herft said: “I have decided to voluntarily stand aside from my role, function and duties as Archbishop of Perth . . . with immediate effect. This will include all duties, including ordinations, pastoral visits, public functions, synod, diocesan council, correspondence and other related engagements.

“I have taken this decision after much prayer, thought and consultation with my advisers to allow for the mission and ministry of the diocese of Perth to flourish. I am humbled by the courage and fortitude of survivors and victims of child sexual abuse as they continue to bear witness to their stories of suffering.”

The Royal Commission will resume hearing evidence about the diocese of Newcastle in mid-November.

Meanwhile, in the UK, a separate official independent inquiry into child sexual abuse has warned the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, that he “may face explicit criticism” over his handling of accusations against the former bishop of Lewes, Peter Ball.

Ball was convicted last year of indecent assault and misconduct in public office relating to offences dating back to 1977. He was sentenced to 32 months in prison after he admitted abusing 18 young men. 

The criticism of former Archbishop Carey stems from his handling of allegations that surfaced in 1993 when Ball resigned from his position as Bishop of Gloucester after accepting an out-of-court official police caution for an act of gross indecency.

The British inquiry has launched a specific investigation into what it has called “the Anglican Church in England and Wales” – the Church of England and the Church in Wales. Part of that investigation will focus on the Peter Ball case. 

The inquiry is at an evidence-gathering stage and is unlikely to begin substantive public hearings until next year.

Bakers should have the right not to make a ‘gay cake’ - Peter Tatchell

Image result for ashers bakery belfastHow should the law navigate between competing claims by religious and gay people? 

That was the issue before the appeal court in Belfast in the notorious “gay cake” row. 

It ruled that the Christian-owned Ashers Bakery acted unlawfully when it refused to decorate a cake with the message: “Support gay marriage.”

The judges have decided, in effect, that businesses cannot lawfully refuse a customer’s request to promote a message — presumably even if it is sexist, xenophobic or anti-gay and even if the business owners have a conscientious objection to it.

The verdict is a setback for freedom of expression — a dangerous, authoritarian precedent.

As well as ruling that Ashers can be legally penalised for not aiding the promotion of same-sex marriage, it also implies that gay bakers could be at risk of legal action if they refuse to decorate cakes with homophobic wording. 

It gives a green light to far-right extremists to demand that businesses facilitate the promotion of their anti-immigrant opinions.

Do we really want a Muslim printer to be legally obliged to publish cartoons of Muhammad and a Jewish printer to be required, under threat of legal action, to publish a book propagating Holocaust denial?

Despite disagreeing profoundly with Ashers’ opposition to marriage equality, in a free society neither they nor anyone else should be compelled to facilitate a political idea they oppose. 

Ashers did not discriminate against the customer who ordered the cake, Gareth Lee, because he was gay. They had served him previously and would do so again. Their objection was to the message he wanted on the cake.

Discrimination against LGBT people is wrong and is rightly unlawful. 

But in a democratic society, people should be able to discriminate against ideas they disagree with. 

Unlike the court, I err on the side of freedom of conscience, expression and religion.

While Christian bed-and-breakfast owners and civil partnership registrars were wrong to deny service to gay people, this case is different. 

It is about the refusal to facilitate an idea — namely, support for same-sex marriage. 

Discrimination against people should be always unlawful but not discrimination against ideas and opinions.

#8masses4no8 Facebook campaign

Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy has described as “moving and inspirational” the gesture by the 11 year-old son of Anthony Foley in asking people to go to Mass and light candles over the next eight Sunday’s for deceased loved ones.

Endorsing the #8masses4no8 Facebook campaign launched on Monday by Tony Foley and his family, Bishop Leahy said  it was a deeply touching and selfless gesture at a very tragic time for the Foley and Hogan families.

“This is both moving and inspirational.  The Foley and Hogan families have found themselves in one of the worst places imaginable. But yet this young man has been moved by the support they have received to, in turn, think of others.

“Like everyone, I was very struck last week by his mother Olive’s strength in the face of this tragedy, not least in her eulogy at the Funeral Mass on Friday.  She is clearly a woman of deep faith and it will help her through this very difficult time. That faith is clearly passing off onto her sons.

“The beauty of this Facebook campaign is the courage that the family is showing in acknowledging they are not on their own, that there are many, many like them who have lost loved ones also.

“The campaign starts next Sunday, which is on his Dad’s birthday and that adds even more poignancy to it.  But we are also moving into November, which is the month when we remember those who have gone before us. Tony’s call is, therefore, hugely timely as while people never forget those who are gone, Mass is the greatest prayer we have to remember them with.

“This really is a powerful movement that this young man has started and the response has been huge by all accounts. It’s really is a movement of love and remembering inspired by an 11 year old boy. He really is a credit to his father and mother.”

Comment: Here is the hypocrisy at the heart of the 'gay wedding cake' case

Image result for ashers bakery belfastSeven years ago, I attended one of the best weddings I've ever been at. 

Two gay friends got hitched in Belfast.

After the civil partnership was over, we made our way round to the magnificent Merchant Hotel for the reception. 
Everything that followed was pure sophistication and class.

It was a joy to behold compared with some of the tacky, tawdry straight weddings I've been at. 

The speeches, the music and the food were perfection.
A splendid cake, topped with two grooms, took pride of place at the banquet.
My then 18-month-old daughter, Alanna, had to be stopped from making an excited dive to devour the elaborate edifice.

Ashers wouldn't have baked that cake for my friends, and I think they'd have been mistaken and narrow-minded to refuse the order.
Yet I will strenuously defend their right to do so despite what the Court of Appeal ruled on Monday.

This puts me on the 'wrong' side of the argument, many liberals and gay rights' activists tell me. I'm standing with the bigots and bible-bashers.
Well, I'm standing with Peter Tatchell too, the most courageous campaigner of his generation who blazed a trail for gay rights long before it became fashionable.

His activism extends beyond wrapping a rainbow flag around himself at a Pride parade. He bore the bruises for attempting a citizen's arrest of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. 

He was punched and nearly knocked unconscious during a gay rights protest in Moscow.
Mr Tatchell says yesterday's ruling has set "a dangerous, authoritarian precedent" and, as usual, he is spot on. It is a serious defeat for freedom of expression.

For those who see Gareth Lee as a champion, and the McArthurs as the baddies, imagine this scenario. A gay person is working in a Belfast bakery when a customer comes in and orders a cake for an evangelical Christian function.
He asks that it be decorated with a marzipan man and woman and the slogan, 'Oppose gay marriage'. The shop assistant politely declines. He says he can't, in conscience, fulfil the order. He is hauled before the courts on discrimination charges.

Those now denouncing Ashers would hail that gay shop assistant as a hero. That's the hypocrisy at the heart of this whole matter.

They'd say it didn't matter what any court ruled, that morally the shop assistant had done the right thing.

He had taken the hard, but rewarding, road. He'd stood up for his principles.
I support gay marriage wholeheartedly. If Northern Ireland ever has a referendum like the Republic's, I won't need to read any literature to know I'm voting 'Yes'. 

But forcing another human being to produce a political slogan with which they disagree is just plain wrong. There are no 'ifs' or 'buts' about it.

A Catholic worker should never be ordered to ice a cake saying 'Support Orange marches'. 

A Protestant worker should never be forced to ice a cake honouring the hunger strikers.

Most of us instinctively know that mandating staff in either scenario would be undemocratic and unjust. And that's why many people can't celebrate this verdict. 

The activists backing this case may have notched up two courtroom victories but they have lost my sympathy, and respect, in the process.
For the record, I wouldn't ice a cake in support of fox-hunting. 

And I find it disturbing that gay rights activists have championed a course of action which would force me to legally do so.

Don't scatter cremated ashes or keep them at home, Vatican says Roman Catholic Church prefers burial over cremation and wants ashes of the dead to be kept in "sacred places", not at home, divided among family members or scattered to the wind, the Vatican said on Tuesday. 

A two-page instruction issuing new rules on cremation also said that there were even some cases where a Christian funeral could be denied to those who request that ashes be scattered.

"The conservation of the ashes of the departed in a domestic residence is not permitted," the instruction from the Vatican's department on doctrine said, except in "grave and exceptional cases" to be decided by the local bishop.

For centuries, the Catholic Church prohibited cremation because it clashed with teachings about the resurrection of the body in the Last Judgment at the end of the world.

It started allowing cremation in 1963 but has always frowned on the practice.

"The Church insistently recommends that the bodies of the deceased be buried in cemeteries or other sacred places," because it showed the dignity and respect for the human body, said the document approved by Pope Francis.

If cremation is chosen, "the ashes of the faithful must be laid to rest in a sacred place, that is, in a cemetery or, in certain cases, in a church or an area which has been set aside for this purpose," it said.

"It is not permitted to scatter the ashes of the faithful departed in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way, nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewellery or other objects," the document said.

The Church could not permit or condone attitudes such as considering death as the "definitive annihilation of the person, or the moment of fusion with Mother Nature or the universe, or as a stage in the cycle of regeneration."

A Christian funeral could be denied if a person requests scattering of ashes as a means to mock the faith, the document added.

Cardinal Müller Pens New Book on Benedict XVI and Pope Francis

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has written a new book about Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.

Called Benedict and Francis, Successors of Peter in the Service of the Church, the Vatican’s doctrinal chief offers a “frank analysis and reflection” on the challenges that societies and contemporary culture pose to the Church in light of the two pontificates, according to publishers Edizioni Ares.

The book, a series of essays to be released in the coming days in Italian, covers the “role of the papacy today, the value of secularism for a Christian, the apparent dichotomy between the uniqueness of the Church founded by Jesus of Nazareth and ecumenism, and the universal call to the apostolate and to holiness amid the demands of a ‘new evangelization’.”

“In these instances,” the book’s publishers continue, “the popes — also Benedict and Francis — each respond with a charism all their own which the author on these pages intends to emphasize.”

In his essays, Cardinal Müller considers how, given the gravity of the “human crisis in our time”, and how the world “seems every day to be on the point of shattering” due to “personal narcissism and increasingly global conflicts”, the Gospel can be rediscovered, “incarnated through the centuries in the Tradition of the Church.”

This allows the Church to carry out “her sacramental mission around the Roman Pontiff, the only beacon that can help man, every man, that divine imprint that distracts him from earthly horizons and makes him even now a citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem.”

In a short excerpt, the publishers quote Cardinal Müller’s own words in which he writes that “in the ‘dictatorship of relativism’ and in the ‘globalization of indifference’ — to borrow the expressions of Benedict XVI and Francis — the boundaries between truth and falsehood, between good and evil are becoming confused.”

He adds that the “challenge for the hierarchy and for all members of the Church is to resist these worldly infections and to heal the spiritual diseases of our time.”

Continuity and critique

Cardinal Müller has often tried to steer a line of continuity between Benedict and Francis while at the same time being critical of certain prevailing elements and trends in the Church.

This was perhaps seen most clearly in a little publicized talk he gave a year ago in Chile. 

The German theologian stressed the importance of bishops reaffirming their union with the Pope, but also warned against the “introduction of elements of liberal Protestantism” in the Church.

Turning to bishops conferences, he said they should not become “a kind of de facto central government of the Church” in any particular country. 

Quoting St. John Paul II, the cardinal said they exist to “help the bishops, not to replace them”, but a “poor understanding” of the theological nature of the relatively new institution has led to the danger of them taking on the “organizational style of the Reformed community”. 

They then become similar to a “national church”, he said, able to determine “certain emphases of content and procedure” to which they adapt diocesan pastoral programs.

Cardinal Müller also spoke of the dangers of relativism in the Church, recalling how the 2000 declaration Dominus Iesus was rejected by some theological circles, and how relativism has led to “a religious syncretism”. 

He also noted how it has “affected relations with other Christian confessions”, leading to an ecumenism that in some cases abandons the true Christian message to proclaim instead “purely natural religious truths.” 

As a consequence, fundamental anthropological truths about the human person have become “diluted”, he said, especially Christian concepts of the “human person, marriage and life.”

He noted that “theological dissent” in the field of Catholic morality, always a concern of the CDF, has been “particularly present” in recent decades. He reminded bishops and clergy that having been “entrusted with the task of preserving, explaining and spreading the Word of God,” they must “correct errors with courage and boldness”, even making use of the mass media to do so.

Cardinal Müller made several references to the 1990 CDF Instruction Donum Veritatis which says “theology has importance for the Church in every age so that it can respond to the plan of God ‘who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Tim 2:4).”

The cardinal also criticized the undue influence of human sciences on theology, and how dissent sometimes appeals to a “kind of sociological argumentation which holds that the opinion of a large number of Christians would be a direct and adequate expression of the ‘supernatural sense of the faith’.”

Regarding the “sensus fidei”, or the sense of the faithful, he said “the opinions of the faithful cannot be purely and simply identified with the ‘sensus fidei’." That is a "property of theological faith," he said, "and, as God's gift which enables one to adhere personally to the Truth, it cannot err.”

The cardinal also noted the “disappearance or lack of appreciation of the importance of divine grace in the spiritual life” which ends up “disfiguring” the “purpose of the sacraments, prayer and traditional Church teaching on Christian and vocational life.” 

He further underlined the importance of an “adequate teaching of the content of the Catechism” which he said, quoting again the words of John Paul II, "is a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion and a sure norm for teaching the faith.”

Body of the Canadian bishop, who died during the pontiff's visit to Georgia, found in a Tbilisi hotel

Image result for Bishop Hanna ZoraBody of the Canadian bishop, honorable head of the Assyrian Diocese Hanna Zora, aged 77, was found during the visit of Pope Francis of Rome to Georgia in the Holiday Inn Hotel in Tbilisi on October 2, Georgian Prime Time Agency reported on Monday.
Head of the Catholic Church in Georgia Giuseppe Pazotto confirmed the fact in his conversation with the agency.
"Bishop Zora came to Georgia with Pope Francis and other bishops. He participated in several events in Tbilisi. We learned that it was not recommended to him to visit Georgia because of his health condition, but he decided to come here," Pazzoto said.

According to the information of the Imedi TV channel, the Vatican Security Service insisted on not spreading the information about the bishop's death.

The Georgian Ministry of the Interior initiated an investigation of the bishop's death "for causing to commit suicide."

Bishop Angaelos: Never Forget Your Responsibility To Preach The Good News

Bishop Angaelos used the annual Coptic New Year service in Westminster Abbey to remind Christians of their "responsibility to proclaim the good news, to set captives free and to be light and sight to those who may live in darkness and blindness".

The general bishop of the Coptic Church in the UK said it had been a "challenging" year in the ceremony last week, citing the EU referendum and ISIS. 

Messages from the Prime Minister Theresa May and the Archbishop of Canterbury were also delivered to the congregation that included MPs, peers and government officials.

Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, was joined by peers, MPs and officials at the service in Westminster Abbey last week.Coptic Church UK
"Today as we start this year, 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon us'; we are anointed, mandated and sent into this world as hope, light and promise," said Angaelos. "It is God in us Who enables us to do this, and so today we really do stand together in this sacred place, with the saints, in unity of heart. Let nothing take that away from us, and let nothing defeat that spirit that allows us to defeat all that seeks to silence us."

Justin Welby paid tribute to the Copts as a "suffering community" in a message delivered by the Bishop of Lambeth.

He also hinted at closer ties between Copts and Anglicans. "Thank you for your friendship in the gatherings of Church leaders of this country and your willingness to be so constructive in relationships between Churches," he said.

"I hope and pray that we can increase the love and understanding between our churches that we may draw nearer to our Lord's desire that 'all may be one'."

Lord Bourne, the minister responsible for faith, spoke at the service and thanked Angaelos for his "tireless work" for Christians in Egypt and elsewhere who suffer for their faith. "Our communities here do not live in isolation from events abroad and sadly prejudices and fears do not stop at borders," he said.

"As the Integration and Faith Minister, I am committed to improving our communities, to ensuring that bridges are built between communities and that this is a country for everyone. I make that oath to you tonight and ask you to join me in committing to fight to ensure that marginalised voices are heard and that people can follow their faith or belief free from fear, no matter where they live."

Human Rights Watch has warned that Copts face increasingly persecution in their homeland of Egypt. Deputy Middle East director Joe Stork said there was a "climate of impunity for violent crimes that target Christians".

Most Christians in Egypt are Coptic Orthodox and they are believed to make up between six and ten per cent of the 93 million population.

In the UK there are around 20,000 Copts.

Your mission is to share your faith every day

Bishop Denis Nulty at the launch of the Kildare and Leighlin Diocesan guide to Sharing our Faith Everyday, which was produced for Mission Sunday 2016 (Pic. John McElroy).
The Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin celebrated Mission Sunday with the launch of a guide to ‘Sharing our Faith Everyday’.

The guide provides suggestions on how the faithful may share their faith with others in everyday situations, for example by using phrases such as ‘God bless you’, displaying religious symbols around the home, praying at mealtimes and at bedtime, discussing current affairs in the context of Gospel values and encouraging children and others to think about the less fortunate.

“I hope people of all ages and backgrounds will use the suggestions to deepen their own faith and to show others what a joyful and stimulating pathway religion offers,” says Bishop Denis Nulty.

At the launch of the guide, Bishop Nulty noted that Pope Francis said that, in an increasingly secular world, people need to have courage to swim against the tide.

The guide encourages readers to wear a cross or another symbol of their faith in the workplace or their place of study. It urges them not to be afraid to show their faith in front of others and to be ready to explain and talk about their faith. Lastly, it asks Christians to respect other people’s religious beliefs and to always be honest and fair at work.

World Mission Sunday is held on the penultimate Sunday of October every year. 

It was inaugurated in 1926 by Pope Pius XI as a day of prayer for the missions at home and overseas.

Precious Life slams Amnesty abortion poll

precious-life-imageBernadette Smyth, director of Precious Life, says Amnesty is “claiming to be a ‘human rights group’ while campaigning for the legalised destruction of unborn children.”

Precious Life has denounced claims made by Amnesty International that its latest survey demonstrates “overwhelming demand” for legalised abortion in cases of rape and incest, and when an unborn child has been diagnosed with a life-limiting disability in Northern Ireland.

“A measly percentage of a sample group of 1000 people does not represent the views of the people of Northern Ireland. The latest opinion poll by Amnesty International shows that this so-called ‘human rights group’ has no regard for the democratic process that respects and upholds the views of the pro-life people of Northern Ireland,” said Bernadette Smyth, director of Precious Life.

The Amnesty poll was carried out in mid-September 2016 by Millward Brown Ulster, using face-to-face interviews with a representative sample of 1,000 adults aged over 16, in several urban and rural locations across Northern Ireland.

To the question ‘Should abortion be available in cases of rape and incest?’ 72% of respondents said yes. In cases of fatal foetal abnormality 67% of respondents said they were in favour of changing abortion laws.

However, Bernadette Smyth claimed that in the last Northern Ireland Assembly Election in May 2016 a majority voted for pro-life politicians who would defend the right to life of all unborn children.

548abortion_poll_rapeShe also pointed to David Ford’s *MLA consultation on changing the law to allow abortion in cases of rape, incest, and diagnosis of life-limiting disability, in which she said over 99% of the responses were opposed to any change in the law.

“In April 2015 it was revealed that of the 25,320 responses to the consultation, 25,140 opposed the legalisation of abortion in cases where an unborn child has been diagnosed with a life-limiting disability,” she said.

She added that this was an “overwhelming figure” compared to some 600+ people in Amnesty’s survey who said they support abortion in the case of life-limiting disabilities.

“Amnesty International uses these opinion polls in [an] attempt to override the united and unyielding conviction of the people of Northern Ireland that every human being, born or unborn, has an unconditional right to life. But Amnesty International can’t be taken seriously; it is an organisation claiming to be a ‘human rights group’ while campaigning for the legalised destruction of unborn children,” concluded Bernadette Smyth.

In April 2015 the Northern Ireland Department of Justice published responses to the David Frost consultation in a report titled: The Criminal Law On Abortion: Lethal foetal abnormality and sexual crime Response to the Consultation and Policy Proposals.

Its summary of responses states that there were:

•712 individually written responses –

 579 opposed change, 133 supported;

•65 responses from representative organisations and interested groups – 47 supported change, 18 were against;

•921 letters opposing change written in support of seven lobby campaigns which may have been organised by individual churches or faith groups;

• 23,622 petition signatures opposing change. 

14317462_1329173843762409_5381103185657734614_nThe Project Love petition was organised by Every Life Counts Ireland. 

It included 18,000 postcards delivered to the Department by Precious Life, a further 2,197 sent directly to the Department, and 3,425 signatures to the electronic version of the petition on website.

Amnesty International stated that its survey, published on 18 October, shows “overwhelming support from all religious backgrounds and political affiliations for a major overhaul of the region’s restrictive, 19th Century abortion laws”.

Amnesty also asserted that the new poll shows an increase in support for access to abortion since a similar Amnesty survey two years ago. Since 2014, some 3% more of people surveyed supported access to abortion in cases of rape, and 7% more of respondents supported access to abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

There were similarly high levels of support for reform of abortion laws in both Catholic and Protestant communities. For example, the Amnesty poll showed that 68% of respondents from a Catholic background support access to abortion in cases of rape or incest, with 17% disagreeing.  Among respondents from a Protestant background, the figures were 72% supporting increased abortion access, with just 16% disagreeing.

There was also support for abortion law reform among voters for all of Northern Ireland’s main political parties. For example, in cases of rape or incest, 73% of DUP voters surveyed support access to abortion, and 17% are opposed. Among SDLP voter respondents, 69% support access to abortion in such circumstances, while 17% are opposed.

The new poll was published as Ministers from the Northern Ireland Executive were considering introducing changes to the law to allow abortion in cases of life-limiting disability.

Minister of Justice Claire Sugden and Minister of Health Michelle O’Neill received a report last week from an inter-departmental working group, but it had not been published when the Amnesty survey was published.

* Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs)

The dream of 1916 must be a dream about peace and harmony – Archbishop Diarmuid Martin

kilmainham-gaol-chapelArchbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin has said we should make the dream of 1916 a reality, but that it must be a dream of peace and harmony. 

The archbishop was speaking at a special celebration of the Eucharist in Kilmainham Gaol on Sunday 23 October, where he described the national monument as a sacred space.

Archbishop Martin, who had a uncle who fought in the rising said, “We are celebrating Mass here not just in an historic national monument.  We are celebrating Mass in a sacred space.  It is sacred not just because it was at some moment or other blessed or consecrated in a liturgical ceremony.  It is sacred because of the extraordinary faith which was shown here at a moment when all else seemed to be dominated by brutality.”

Speaking in the chapel in Kilmainham Gaol, Archbishop Martin said, “Kilmainham Gaol was a place of harsh punishment and death. It was also a place of nobility and idealism and of those things which represent the deeper dimensions of humanity. Each of those who was executed here was a person of faith. It varied from the mystical poetry of Plunkett to the doubting faith of Connolly who found his peace with God right here in this chapel.

“This is a place also where people accepted to face a violent death because they had a dream for Ireland. It was not a dream just for the Ireland of 1916, but it was a dream for us and for all the generations which will come after us also. Those executed here wanted us to benefit from their dream and for us then to realise our common dream for others.

“We have to ask ourselves each day, how have we given reality to that dream? What kind of Ireland do we want and what kind of Ireland have we achieved?  Dreams are never realised; the nature of a dream is to challenge us to move beyond ourselves in goodness and truth, solidarity and generosity.”

Archbishop Martin said that no society will ever be the ideal one. It is of human nature that we fail sometimes through our own faults, sometimes through unforeseen circumstances. But the fact that we may never arrive at what is ideal, does not mean that we cannot and should not propose an ideal, a dream to which we can aspire and hope. The Gospel message about integrity is a vital one for defining what dream we wish for Ireland.

Archbishop Martin continued, “The dream must be a dream about peace and harmony. In these days again we witness almost every day examples of senseless violence: there is the cold and unscrupulous violence of people shot deliberately, often in their homes and before their families. There is the repeated violence of stabbings, tragedies often unplanned, but nonetheless senseless and bringing tragedy to all involved. This violence attains nothing and as citizens we must all rise up against it in whatever way we can.”

Commenting on the work of the Kilmainham Gaol restoration society, who have saved the building from falling into ruin, Archbishop Martin said, “We are all indebted to you. This building is a monument to the spiritual strength and the faith of the men and women who lived and died for an ideal which Irish men and women and children should be able to achieve. I am honoured to have been asked to celebrate with you this morning.”