Archbishop Eamon Martin issues Easter message of support for Ukraine

Archbishop Eamon Martin has joined his fellow leaders of the main Christian churches in Ireland in issuing a special Easter message of support for the people of Ukraine.

The Church Leaders Group, which includes the Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe Andrew Forster in his role as President of the Irish Council of Churches, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh John McDowell, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland Dr. David Bruce, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, Dr. Sahr Yambasu, said the people of the Ukraine are 'literally walking through the valley of the shadow of death'.

"On Good Friday when Jesus was crucified, we are told in the Gospel that darkness covered the whole earth. Our world this Holy Week is overshadowed with the darkness of war and conflict in Ukraine.

"We have witnessed through the media, the murder and mutilation of innocent civilians, the destruction of homes, shops and hospitals, and the displacement of millions of people. Families, who a matter of months ago were getting on with their everyday lives, are now literally walking through the valley of the shadow of death.

Archbishop Eamon Martin

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"We stand united as Church Leaders in Ireland, with a message of support for the people of Ukraine. As we did when faced with conflict here in our own land, we call for people to pray for peace, to reach out to support the injured and bereaved, and to do all that they can to help and support the victims of unnecessary suffering," the said in joint Easter message.

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The church leaders recommitted themselves to helping 'our sisters and brothers in their hour of need'.

They called on 'all world leaders and people of influence to work ever harder to find a way to restore peace, bring about reconciliation and healing'.

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They also spoke of the resilience people have shown in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and acknowledged that many are still suffering as a result of the health emergency.

"During the last two years we have witnessed people coming together in support of one another to fight in a very different battle, against a microscopic virus.

"People adopted different forms of mitigation and made sacrifices to protect their neighbour from Covid-19. Our journey with coronavirus has taught us much and thankfully there are good signs of recovery.

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"We are conscious too that for many the effects of the virus continue. Many have been very ill, others have suffered the pain of bereavement without family and friends being able to gather for the funeral, others live with the effects of the last two years on mental health or economic circumstances. We have all learnt much about our vulnerability and the fragile nature of human life.

"May the Easter message of hope, found in the risen Christ, who banished the darkness and rose victorious in the light of a new dawn, be heard, and realised in Ukraine. May God’s healing grace rest upon the world, its peoples and all who are suffering; and may the unconditional love of God be known, realised and shared, here and everywhere, now and in the days to come," they said.