Archbishop warns against racism and danger of a group ‘feeling superior’

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    Archbishop warns against racism and danger of a group ‘feeling superior’


    Diarmuid Martin: ‘War is a street of no return that inevitably leads to disaster’. Picture: Justin Farrelly
    Diarmuid Martin: ‘War is a street of no return that inevitably leads to disaster’. Picture: Justin Farrelly

    The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland has spoken out against racism – warning against the dangers of “one population group” feeling it is “somehow superior to another”.

    Archbishop Diarmuid Martin was speaking at a Mass in Dublin’s Pro Cathedral yesterday to mark the centenary of the torpedoing of ‘RMS Leinster’ in October 1918, which resulted in the deaths of 564 people.

    He said history shows that wars arise due to tensions between states, and within states, when one population group or one nation begins to feel that it is somehow superior to another and attempts to assert superiority for “self-serving means”.

    His comments come at the end of a week in which presidential candidate Peter Casey was engulfed in controversy over his comments on Travellers, in which he said they should not be recognised as an ethnic minority because they are “basically people camping on someone else’s land”.

    The Archbishop’s comments were also made as concerns mount over a possible return of violence in Northern Ireland as a consequence of Brexit and alarm over the rise of right-wing populism globally.

    A source insisted the Archbishop was speaking about the issue in global terms rather than targeting any individual person or issue.

    However it will resonate within the debate sparked by Mr Casey, who yesterday wrote in the ‘Sunday Independent’ strongly rejecting suggestions he is a racist.

    The Mass was held exactly a hundred years to the day after Archbishop William J Walsh celebrated a Requiem Mass for those who lost their lives after ‘RMS Leinster’ was torpedoed in the Irish Sea on October 10, 1918. The loss of life in the greatest maritime tragedy in Irish history was “horrendous”, Dr Martin stated.

    “The history of the First World War is a history of noble idealism but also a history of horrific barbarities,” he added.

    The atrocity happened as the end of World War I was approaching and due to the widespread fears over the flu epidemic raging at the time, there was a concern about bringing people together even for funeral ceremonies due to the risk of infection.

    “War is a street of no return that inevitably leads to disaster,” Archbishop Martin said.

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    “We remember the horrors of war and we commit ourselves to the fostering of a culture of peace for the generations to come.”

    He told the congregation, which included relatives of some of those who lost their lives, that a consequence of war was that political power and economic ambitions become superior to the lives of the youngest and weakest, “the ones called to be in the trenches and to experience the barbarities”.

    “Any commemoration of a disaster like that which hit the RMS Leinster must lead all of us to commit ourselves to working to see that what happened should never happen again and what caused it to happen should never occur again,” he said.

    Irish Independent

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