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Great War: Mgr. Martin (Primate of Ireland), “peace is an ongoing work of reconciliation justice and hope”

“Sadly, because of the cruel twists and tensions of our history of conflict, the fact that Irish Catholics and Protestants fought and died, side by side, was neglected for too long – and perhaps conveniently – by all sides, both north and south of the border. People preferred to cling on to a history of difference and separation, rather than recognise and embrace our shared story of common suffering”. The Primate of Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh, Mgr. Eamon Martin, delivered this sermon in Saint Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast at a Commemorative Service to mark the end of World War I yesterday. 69,000 Irish soldiers are buried in the fields of the Somme and of Flanders, Mgr. Martin explained, and these “brave people we are remembering are calling us to recognise their shared suffering by building a better future where difference is accepted and respected”. In his words, Mgr. Martin also recalled his “great uncle Edward” who is buried in Ypres, and Jesuit Father Willie Doyle, a military chaplain who died at Passchendaele but was never found. These people, like all those who died in the War, “have bequeathed us a shared responsibility for healing the past and building lasting trust and peace. Peace is not merely ‘ceasefire’ or the absence of violence and war”, but “is an ongoing work of reconciliation, justice and hope: it means coming out of our own trenches”. To achieve it, we need “that love which urges us to uphold the value and dignity of every human life and to be passionate about respecting others, especially those who are poor or marginalised”. The last words in Mgr. Martin’s sermon were dedicated to the island of Ireland and the “hope for a lasting peace”.

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