Trauma and legacy central to constitutional conversations in Ireland in 2022 - Archbishop Eamon Martin

Archbishop Eamon Martin said intergenerational dialogue will be vital as conversations develop around the constitutional question in Ireland.

Monday, 3rd January 2022, 9:19 am

The Derry native said central to these conversations must be the ‘reality of trauma’ experienced by victims of the conflict here.

In his New Year message, the Primate of All Ireland and former St Columb’s College teacher reflected on the 55th World Day of Peace on January 1 as Pope Francis observes that, sadly, in many places around the world, the “noise of war and conflict is intensifying, diseases of pandemic proportions are spreading, the effects of climate change and environmental degradation are worsening, (and) the tragedy of hunger and thirst is increasing.”

Archbishop Martin said: “The importance of intergenerational partnership and dialogue on the island of Ireland came home to me last October when I joined with the other Church leaders to hold a Service of Reflection and Hope to mark the centenary of 1921. During the service I expressed a personal sense of sadness and loss at the partition of Ireland and, with my fellow religious leaders, I acknowledged that perhaps we in the Churches could have done more to deepen our understanding of each other and to bring healing and peace to our divided and wounded communities.

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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21st October 2021 - Most Rev Eamon Martin (centre), Most Rev John McDowell, Rt Rev Dr David Bruce, Rev Dr Sahr Yambasu and Very Rev Dr Ivan Patterson pictured at the service of 'Reflection and Hope' to mark the Centenary of the partition of Ireland and the formation of Northern Ireland at St Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

“We were blessed that so many young people took part in that Service in Armagh and they made such a refreshing and positive contribution.

“As we begin a New Year, conversations are already taking place about what constitutional change and greater sharing on this island might look like. Intergenerational dialogue has much to offer these conversations - balancing reflection on the past with hope for the future. Clearly, the issues of legacy and the reality of trauma experienced by many families here must be included and handled sensitively in these conversations. Victims have spoken about the importance of continued access to justice, together with meaningful opportunities for truth and information recovery. No line can easily be drawn on our past and there is clearly much work to be done in exploring and building a unity of hearts and minds towards a shared vision for our future in this island.”

Another helpful opportunity for dialogue between the generations, he added, emerges in the context of the global climate crisis.

“The voices of young people were loud and clear at the COP26 conference in Glasgow in October. Among these were young voices of faith, reminding us of our responsibilities under God to be caring stewards of creation - always alert to the protection of life and the dignity of all and to the disproportionate impact that climate change is having on those who are already vulnerable and on the margins.

“These young people are strongly committed to dialogue and mutual respect between faith and science, while remaining determined to call out needless waste, ruthless exploitation and destruction of our planet’s resources. After all, they argue, the world not only belongs to us but to the generations who will follow us. In this case, therefore, intergenerational solidarity is not just an option, ‘but rather a basic question of justice (Laudato Si 159).’

“A fitting New Year’s resolution for all of us in Church and in society, might be to invest more of our time and resources, listening, dialogue and prayer in our young people who are already making it clear that they see themselves not simply as our future, but also as essential and creative contributors to our present.”