The Primate of All Ireland has admitted that the bishops are “a bit nervous about the impact that the reconstruction of a border wall could have on the peace process”.
In an interview with Vatican Insider, Archbishop Eamon Martin said
the European Union’s principles of peace, reconciliation and harmony had
shaped the peace process in Ireland.
Asked about the consequence of a return of a border in the wake of
Britain’s vote for Brexit, he warned that the freedom of movement would
be at stake.
“As one Church, we want to have assurances that the possibility to
move between the North and the Republic will remain the same as today,”
In addition to the uncertainty over Brexit across the island of
Ireland, Northern Ireland is going to the polls on Thursday this week.
On 22 February, the North’s bishops issued a statement appealing to
politicians to “reject the temptation to retreat into partisanship” at
this time of growing divisions in political life locally and the
negotiation of change in the UK’s status in the European Union.
In his interview with Vatican Insider, Archbishop Martin said the
bishops wanted to “calm things down”, especially in view of the identity
stigmatisation which has emerged in recent weeks and the return to
“We want to say as bishops our firm ‘no’ to a harsh language and
remind our politicians that their vocation is to work for the common
good and exercise their leadership through the careful practice of
compromise and agreement.”
He added that they were also warning politicians to be careful not to
sacrifice the progress made in the past 20 years thanks to the Good
According to the Archbishop, the Church wants to be a peaceful voice
of reconciliation amid the risk of returning to the old divisions that
have inflamed the past.
Asked what he believed might happen after the elections, Archbishop Martin said he did not know.
“Maybe little will change: Westminster’s power devolution will
continue while agreements will be reached in Brexit’s negotiations. It
is certainly ‘not simple’ what is happening before the elections.
However, what will happen after it is more important.”
“Our document aims at encouraging people to vote because the real
danger is that such a tense climate might discourage the ‘good’ people
from voting. We want them to vote because it is their right.”
The Primate of All Ireland also described the abortion debate as “open and ongoing in both parts of the country”.
The Church is due to address the Citizens’ Assembly in Dublin on the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment on 5 March.
Archbishop Martin told Vatican Insider, “We will reiterate what we
previously stated on the Day for Life on 2 October: the Eighth Amendment
is valuable because it invites us to – what Pope Francis calls ‘the
revolution of tenderness’. He is telling us that the life of the unborn
child is not something we can dispose of nor decide upon.”