Eamon Martin urges St. Patrick to intercede for Ireland amid Brexit uncertainty

Archbishop Eamon Martin.
Archbishop Eamon Martin.

The Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, has asked St. Patrick to intercede for Ireland amid ongoing uncertainty over Brexit.

The Derry prelate, in his St. Patrick's Day message, said: "In these days of ongoing political and economic uncertainty over Brexit, I have been hearing families across the island of Ireland - including those who live and work along the border and those who make their living from farming, business and haulage - express anxiety about what the future might hold.

"People are speaking about relationships within these islands - north and south, east and west - becoming more strained and fragile."

Archbishop Martin recalled Pope John Paul II's visit to Ireland 40 years ago.

"In 1979 the border between north and south was heavily militarised and monitored.

"Pope John Paul II chose to speak about Christ as Prince of Peace, and against the construction of 'barriers of hate and mistrust'.

"On September 29,1979, the Polish Pontiff said at an open-air Mass in Drogheda, 'Let history record that at a difficult moment in the experience of the people of Ireland, the Bishop of Rome set foot in your land, that he was with you and prayed with you for peace and reconciliation, for the victory of justice and love over hatred and violence.'"

The Derry church leader remarked how, back then, the Pope had asked St. Patrick to “watch over Ireland" and "protect humanity”.

This St. Patrick's Day he offered the same prayer.

"One of the great architects of our peace process, Mr. John Hume, used to speak of the border not simply as 'a line on a map', but as the institutionalised division that can exist for centuries 'in hearts and minds'.

"If we have learned anything since the Good Friday Agreement, twenty-one years ago, it is that partnership and tolerance, mutual trust and respect, equality and a complete renunciation of violence, are essential for the building of a lasting and just peace.

"All the more reason then for us to resolve, in the name of St. Patrick, to avoid any return to an infrastructure of suspicion and division which could so easily set back decades of progress," he said.

Archbishop Martin said St. Patrick had championed the dialogue and the peaceful resolution of problems.

"I hope this weekend that the prayers and example of St. Patrick will help our politicians, community leaders and all of us to treat each other with respect in these trying times.

"If we are to find a way forward and face our many challenges, we need to recover that spirit of fraternity and 'strive to do bigger and better things' (Confession 47).

"As St. Patrick himself prayed, may God’s strength 'pilot us' in the coming days, months and years," said Archbishop Martin.