‘Extraordinary tradition’ of peacekeeping praised

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin speaks at New Year’s Day Mass of harm caused by gossip

Ireland's international peacekeepers were warmly praised by the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin this morning as he recalled that "the children of wars are among the largest group of victims who have appeared on our television reviews of the year 2013".

Speaking at the World Day of Peace Mass in the city's Pro Cathedral, he recalled how "year after year we are called to look back at a year which was anything but peaceful", but noted how "over the past 12 months we have been hearing day after day - alone regarding the conflict in Syria - the terms 'millions' and 'hundreds of thousands', as we speak of people displaced from their homes or forced to flee their nation".

The list of conflicts was "long, and sadly many conflicts with their own 'hundreds of thousands' of victims – especially in Africa – barely even make the radar-screens of our news headlines", he said. Yet there were those who were prepared to risk their own lives to prevent conflict and maintain a fragile peace.

He said: "This morning we remember in our prayers all the members of our own Defence Forces who continue to witness the extraordinary tradition of this country in peacekeeping. There are members of An Garda Síochána, there are development workers, there are missionaries and religious, there are our diplomatic representatives and many others who work quietly to leave a distinctive Irish imprint on working for peace.


“We express our appreciation to all of them and we remember all of them in our prayers as well as their families at home.”

People needed to develop "a deep culture of fostering peace and reconciliation and coming together in the realisation that we need each other and that difference must not be a source of hatred and division, suspicion and fear, but something which enriches, something indeed which belongs to being a human person", he said. He noted how Pope Francis had "won respect by his ability to show respect towards those with whom he may not agree".

He also recalled how the pope had recently spoke of a “conscientious objection to gossip...For gossip is harmful to people, harmful to our work and our surroundings.” He said that “cynicism and insinuation are not the paths to a peaceful and harmonious society”.

The Mass was celebrated by the papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown with music by the Palestrina choir.

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina were there, and Cllr Edie Wynne represented Dublin's Lord Mayor Oisín Quinn.. Also present were representatives of the judiciary, Garda, Defence Forces, diplomatic corps, Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, Knights of Malta and Knights of St Columbanus..

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times