There is “a dangerous culture of violence in Ireland, which is difficult to understand”, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, has said.
He called for a “stop” to gangland violence and also raised concern over the “growing number of stabbings in the past year, at times by very young people”.
The archbishop said that “behind the doors of families” there was also often physical and sexual violence.
“Our homes and schools must become the real seedbeds for non-violence,” he said.
Archbishop Martin was speaking at the World Day of Peace Mass in St Teresa’s Church on Dublin’s Clarendon Street on Sunday. He was applauded when, calling for prayers for President Michael D Higgins and his family, he commented “all of us are proud of the leadership of our President”.
Among the congregation were President Higgins and his wife Sabina, Comdt Kieran Carey representing Taoiseach Enda Kenny, representatives of the judiciary, the Garda, and Defence Forces, the European Commission and Dublin City Council.
Also present were representatives of the diplomatic corps and Catholic Church associations such as the Knights of Malta, the Knights of St Columbanus, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre and the Association of Papal Orders.
Celebrating the Mass with Archbishop Martin were papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown, and auxiliary bishops of Dublin Eamonn Walsh and Ray Field.
Wonderful exampleBeginning the Mass, the archbishop praised members of the Defence Forces and An Garda for their “wonderful example of keeping the peace in difficult situations” around the world.
In his homily, he said “young people must learn the call to service from an early age and learn that divisions can be overcome and that tolerance and respect, but also patient understanding and mercy, are the strong weapons for relationships that endure, in the personal as well as in the social and political sphere.”
It needed to be said, according to the archbishop, “that nonviolence is not a sign of weakness but a sign of being strong.
“It is a sign which recognises that lasting peace can only be achieved by peaceful means. It is a sign of working for justice through being just, living justly and being alongside those who suffer injustice,” he continued. “But nonviolence is not just a nice idea for Christmas; it must become reality around which people can coalesce every day.”
Referring to gangland violence among “drug barons” in Dublin, he asked “will these people ever learn or are they totally blinded by their own selfish interest in the drug trade?”
He said it was “a trade in death, which is of such enormous financial interest that its leaders feel that they must kill to keep their power and perhaps, according to news reports, even hire killers from aboard to carry out their evil work”.
Violence, he said, “only leads to retaliation and further grief, and those who seem to think they are stronger by resorting to violence are left in an insecurity [in] which they know no sophisticated modern security systems can really protect them or their loved ones”.