Eamon Martin addresses Islamist terror, domestic violence and anxiety and depression in New Year message

Eamon Martin.
Eamon Martin.

The Archbishop of Armagh. Eamon Martin, has spoken of the challenges of Islamist terrorism, persistently high rates of domestic violence, anxiety and depression, and the refugee crisis during, a sermon on New Year's Day in St. Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh.

The Derry pastor said he believed a greater spirit of compassion in 2018 could help ameliorate some of those evils suffered across the world last year.

Arcbishop Martin was speaking at a Mass to celebrate the Catholic Church's World Day of Peace.

Referring to the scourge of Islamist violence, particularly in North Africa and the Middle East, he said: "On this first day of the New Year, I am reminded of the violence and war that continues to rage in many parts of the world, and in particular, of the horrific acts of terror that are carried out by some people who have so distorted and twisted their religious beliefs to justify such gruesome and shocking atrocities.

"Last Holy Week we heard of 45 Coptic Christians in Egypt being murdered at worship on Palm Sunday.

"It is shocking to learn that there have been further attacks during the Christmas season, most recently on Friday last when nine people were killed during an attack on a Christian Church in Cairo.

"Here in Ireland, as we exchange the sign of peace on this first day of the New Year, let us do so in solidarity with so many of our Christian brothers and sisters throughout the world who suffer or die for their faith."

Archbishop Martin also referred to the related refugee crisis and said Christians had a duty to show compassion to those forced to flee their homes due to violence and injustice.

"I am mindful also today of migrants and refugees who are languishing in camps or wandering in hope for a better life for their families.

"In his Message today for this, the 51st World Day of Peace, Pope Francis draws our attention to 'the over 250 million migrants worldwide, of whom 22.5 million are refugees'.

"He calls them 'men and women in search for peace', remarking that, 'In order to find that peace, they are willing to risk their lives on a journey that is often long and perilous, to endure hardships and suffering, and to encounter fences and walls built to keep them far from their goal'.

"Pope Francis invites us, in a spirit of compassion, to 'embrace all those fleeing from war and hunger, or forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave their homelands'."

And closer to home the Archbishop said people needed to be open about and protective of neighbours affected by the too-common phenomena of domestic violence, anxiety and depression.

"The high levels of depression, addictions and anxiety in our country, and the frightening reality of domestic violence is not often spoken about openly, but it is an indication of the huge need that exists for inner peace and family reconciliation.

"Organisations like Women’s Aid alert us to the fact that at least 14 per cent of all crime reported to the police last year was related to domestic violence with one call every 18 minutes.

"Just before Christmas, the Catholic and Church of Ireland Cathedral parishes here in Armagh came together for training in the Safe Church Initiative.

"We have pledged to play our part in raising awareness about domestic violence and abuse and in supporting anyone affected to confidentially access information.

"We hope to draw more attention to this initiative as we continue our preparations for the World Meeting of Families next August."