News archive 2004

Archbishop Seán Brady Primate of All-Ireland St Patrick’s Day message

PRESS RELEASE

16 MARCH 2004

ARCHBISHOP SEAN BRADY PRIMATE OF ALL IRELAND

ST PATRICK’S DAY MESSAGE

i. Forthcoming referendum should be conducted in a tempered, compassionate and responsible manner;
ii. Terrorist attack in Madrid was ‘callous and barbaric’.

Archbishop Sean Brady, the Primate of All-Ireland, today issued his St Patrick’s Day message
saying, “Patrick enabled the people of Ireland to participate in the life of Europe. This
paved the way for the early Irish Church to seek out missionary paths in later centuries
and so contributed hugely to the development of faith and culture in mainland Europe. It
is therefore appropriate then that come May 1st, the formal entry of the ten EU accession
states from Central and Eastern Europe will be signed into law here in Ireland. Patrick
was one for breaking down barriers. Though borders were ever transient in fifth century
Europe, Patrick’s message is one of pushing back frontiers.

“Writing his life’s story, towards the end of his days, Patrick describes the sense of
loneliness that he felt in Ireland, after he had been captured and taken from home as a
slave. Repeatedly, he says he felt he was an outsider and a foreigner. This week the
Simon Community launched a campaign to raise awareness of homelessness throughout the
whole of Ireland. Representatives for the major Christian Churches in Ireland have
worked with staff from the Simon Community on this project. Homelessness is a real problem
and affects many more people than those found to live on our streets. It touches people
in our parishes and on our streets but it is a problem that can be solved if we work together.”

Addressing the issue of emigrants Archbishop Brady said, “St Patrick’s Day 2004 coincides
with Irish Bishops’ Conference initiative entitled, “Supporting Irish Abroad” (see below).
The aim of this initiative is to remember the Irish abroad in a constructive way. While
we rightly celebrate those emigrants who prospered abroad, we must not forget those who,
having lived lives of decency and honour, have fallen on hard times in old age.

“When we are enjoying today’s festivities on our streetscapes bedecked with green bunting,
we should spare a thought for the global Irish family, especially those emigrants living
abroad in poverty, but most of all living in loneliness. Lest we forget, these same Irish
emigrants remitted over €4.5 billion in the bleak 1950s and 60s to sustain households at
home in Ireland. I pay special tribute to today’s volunteers, social workers and emigrant
chaplains – the unsung heroes of the Irish communities abroad – who endeavour to improve
the living conditions of our most needy cousins and neighbours living overseas.

“Is there a lesson in Patrick’s experience for us today? Surely his writings, coupled with
our centuries long experience of being ourselves an emigrant people, should help shape our
views towards emigration policy. Ireland, as current holder of the EU Presidency, should
make reference to our Christian heritage and the experiences and story of our own people
abroad, in contributing to the debate about appropriate policies and legislation that the
EU needs to adopt vis-à-vis the movement of peoples. In its term of Presidency of the
European Union, Ireland has a duty to lead public opinion and debate on this critical
issue and not fall victim to scaremongering and myths. The objective of our Presidency
should be to provide the most enlightened legislation possible and to avoid a “fortress
Europe” mentality.

“It is also my hope that the recently announced forthcoming referendum to the Irish
Constitution concerning the complex subject ‘of the constitutional right to Irish
citizenship to children born on this island to parents who have no right of residence’
and related matters, will be conducted in a tempered, compassionate and responsible
manner.

Archbishop Brady concluded, “Finally today and very especially, I would like to extend a
special Lá fhéile Pádraig greeting to Irish emigrants living in Spain. Last week, terrorism
visited the Spanish capital of Madrid in a most callous and barbaric way. Given our own
painful past, it is very easy for us to identify with the suffering and anguish that is
currently being experienced in Spain. On 15th August 1998, Ireland and Spain felt the
deathly hand of terrorism when a car bomb exploded in Omagh. Just as the Spanish people
prayed for us at that dark time, so too should we remember all those who died in Madrid
last week. May God comfort and console the families of the bereaved and may their loved
ones find eternal rest and happiness in His presence.”

“If the awful and tragic events of last week teach us anything, it is that all of us must
work unceasingly for peace here on our own island. Here, at this time, in Patrick’s own
land, the challenges to peace are many and great. A just and lasting peace must consign
for good an end to all forms of paramilitarism and the restoration of an inclusive, stable
and effective executive in Northern Ireland,” stated Archbishop Brady.

“My prayer for all of us on this St. Patrick’s Day is taken from St. Patrick’s Breastplate:

“Christ be in all hearts thinking about me
Christ be on all tongues telling of me
Christ be the vision in eyes that see me
In ears that hear me
Christ ever be.”

ENDS

NOTES FOR EDITORS

The Irish Bishops’ Conferences services for emigrants and prisoners overseas is based in
Maynooth and has permanent outreach bases (Chaplaincies) in the UK, USA (New York; Boston;
Chicago; San Francisco; Philidelphia), Austrialia and Germany.

Recommendation 7.7 (p61) of the 2002 Report of the Task Force on Policy Regarding Emigrants,
states that an: Agency for the Irish Abroad be established under the aegis of the Department
of Foreign Affairs to coordinate the provision of services to the Irish Abroad.

The Irish Bishops’ Conference nationwide initiative for emigrants coincides with St Patrick’s
Day 2004 and is called SIA , Supporting the Irish Abroad. The awareness campaign involves:
(i) creating an awareness of the plight of the Irish abroad;
(ii) raising money across the 32 counties in order to support the Chaplaincies of the Irish
Bishops’ Conference which operate abroad to assist our emigrants;
(iii) all Members of the Oireachtas and Members of the Legislative Assembly will be sent a
badge with the SIA symbol on it so that they can, if they choose, explicitly support the
plight of emigrants by wearing it.
(iv) the distribution of posters and information newsletters to churches throughout the
32 counties.

Article 2 of the 1937 Constitution of Ireland, as amended by Referendum held following the
Good Friday Agreement in 1998, provides that: It is the entitlement and birthright of every
person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas, to be part of
the Irish nation. That is also the entitlement of all persons otherwise qualified in
accordance with law to be citizens of Ireland. Furthermore, the Irish nation cherishes
its special affinity with Irish people of Irish ancestry living abroad who share its
cultural identity and heritage.

For further information please contact:
Director of Communications Martin Long 086 1727 678
Catholic Communications Officer Brenda Drumm 087 233 7797
Director of the IBC’s Commission for Emigrants Fr Alan Hilliard 087 747 7110

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FULL TEXT OF ARCHBISHOP BRADY’S MESSAGE FOLLOWS:
St. Patrick’s Day Message, 17th March 2004, from
Most Reverend Dr. Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland

Lá fhéile Pádraig faoi shona do Ghaeil tríd an domhain agus beannachtaí na féile orthu go léir.

It is my very great pleasure on this our National Feastday to wish Irish people everywhere a very
happy and faith-filled St. Patrick’s Day. All over the world today, Irish men and women, and
those who claim Irish descent, will gather to celebrate their identity and their heritage.

Patrick – Ambassador for God

The first time Irish emigrants came together to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, according to historians,
was on 17 March, 1737 in Boston. Over the centuries it has grown into an international celebration
of Irish culture and identity. Today, Manhattan will come to a standstill and the white line in
the middle of Fifth Avenue will be painted green. The occasion affords the opportunity to
celebrate “being Irish.” Amidst the music, parades and merriment, the real focus of the
celebration may become lost. 17 March is the anniversary of St. Patrick’s death. We join
together today not just to celebrate Irish culture and identity, but also to remember the man
who described himself as an ambassador for God and who prayed that it might never happen that
he (Patrick) should lose the people which God had won for himself at the end of the earth.
Today we honour a man who nurtured and spread Christianity throughout our native land – setting
down a strong foundation by building on the solid rock of steadfast faith.

Patrick and Europe
Scholars tell us that Christianity had already taken root before Patrick’s arrival in Ireland.
There is evidence that missionaries like Declan of Ardmore preceded Patrick. However, there is
no doubt that Patrick kindled a flickering flame and turned it into a blazing fire. Whether he
banished the snakes from Ireland or confronted druids on the Hill of Tara matters little! His
achievement as a preacher of faith in Jesus Christ in Ireland made Christianity on this island
a living force that has never been extinguished. By spreading the Christian faith to the pagan
Irish, Patrick linked Ireland, a remote island on the periphery of a crumbling Roman Empire,
to mainland Europe. By taking Ireland into the Christian world, Patrick forged new bonds and
links, which, thankfully, have endured to the present day. Spreading a knowledge of Latin
throughout Ireland, Patrick enabled the people of Ireland to participate in the life of Europe.
This paved the way for the early Irish Church to seek out missionary paths in later centuries
and so contributed hugely to the development of faith and culture in mainland Europe. It is
therefore appropriate then that come May 1st, the formal entry of the ten EU accession states
from Central and Eastern Europe will be signed into law here in Ireland. Patrick was one for
breaking down barriers. Though borders were ever transient in fifth century Europe, Patrick’s
message is one of pushing back frontiers.

Homeless and Lonely
Writing his life’s story, towards the end of his days, Patrick describes the sense of loneliness
that he felt in Ireland, after he had been captured and taken from home as a slave. Repeatedly,
he says he felt he was an outsider and a foreigner. This sense of being apart from his loved
ones causes great pain. The strain of not speaking the native tongue is a huge burden. He asks,
“What are a man’s first needs?” In answering he says, “Water, bread, clothing and the safety of
a home.” He adds, “Indeed the poor man with a home is better than one living in splendour
without one.”

This week the Simon Community launched a campaign to raise awareness of homelessness throughout
the whole of Ireland. Representatives for the major Christian Churches in Ireland have worked
with staff from the Simon Community on this project. Homelessness is a real problem and affects
many more people than those found to live on our streets. It touches people in our parishes
and on our streets but it is a problem that can be solved if we work together.

Patrick – The Poor and the Emigrant
Patrick’s words could also be directly lifted and used as a slogan for this St Patrick’s Day
Irish Bishops’ Conference initiative entitled, “Supporting Irish Abroad”. The aim of this
initiative is to remember the Irish abroad in a constructive way. While we rightly celebrate
those emigrants who prospered abroad, we must not forget those who, having lived lives of
decency and honour, have fallen on hard times in old age.

Attention has recently been drawn to the plight of some Irish abroad who may have little to
celebrate this St Patrick’s Day. The St Patrick’s Day celebration offers an opportunity to
demonstrate our confidence, energy and prosperity which befit a country where most of the
people now enjoy a material standard of living which equals that of the ten richest countries
in the world. This is positive. But unfortunately there is another side to the story. Our
improved standard of living has not spread to everyone. Yes, the percentage of the population
below the poverty line is smaller than it used to be. At the same time the gap between the
rich and the poor is growing. There is still real poverty in Ireland which calls out for
effective action.

When we are enjoying today’s festivities on our streetscapes bedecked with green bunting, we
should spare a thought for the global Irish family, especially those emigrants living abroad
in poverty, but most of all living in loneliness. Lest we forget, these same Irish emigrants
remitted over €4.5 billion in the bleak 1950s and 60s to sustain households at home in Ireland.
I pay special tribute to today’s volunteers, social workers and emigrant chaplains – the unsung
heroes of the Irish communities abroad – who endeavour to improve the living conditions of our
most needy cousins and neighbours living overseas.

Patrick – The Foreigner
Patrick’s first experience of Ireland was as a slave. Whether he tended pigs near the woods of
Fochlut on the Western seaboard or herded sheep on Slemish in Northern Ireland, he endured
great hardship and carried out tasks that the native Irish would not do. Upon returning to
Ireland, Patrick encountered what we today label racism. He was regarded as a hostile foreigner,
“preaching a strange and troublesome doctrine…brought overseas from far away…that would overthrow
kingdoms… and their gods.”* Ireland’s suspicion of foreign immigrants can be said then to stretch
back to Patrick’s time. Were it not for Patrick’s unflinching belief in God’s call, he most
probably would have left Ireland and returned to Britain.

Is there a lesson in Patrick’s experience for us today? Surely his writings, coupled with our
centuries long experience of being ourselves an emigrant people, should help shape our views
towards emigration policy. Ireland, as current holder of the EU Presidency, should make reference
to our Christian heritage and the experiences and story of our own people abroad, in contributing
to the debate about appropriate policies and legislation that the EU needs to adopt vis-à-vis the
movement of peoples. In its term of Presidency of the European Union, Ireland has a duty to lead
public opinion and debate on this critical issue and not fall victim to scaremongering and myths.
The objective of our Presidency should be to provide the most enlightened legislation possible
and to avoid a “fortress Europe” mentality.

Speaking of legislation, I hope that the recently announced forthcoming referendum to the Irish
Constitution concerning the complex subject “of the constitutional right to Irish citizenship to
children born on this island to parents who have no right of residence” and related matters, will
be conducted in a tempered, compassionate and responsible manner.

Madrid Bombing
Finally today and very especially, I would like to extend a special Lá fhéile Pádraig greeting to
Irish emigrants living in Spain. Last week, terrorism visited the Spanish capital of Madrid in
a most callous and barbaric way. Given our own painful past, it is very easy for us to identify
with the suffering and anguish that is currently being experienced in Spain. On 15th August 1998,
Ireland and Spain felt the deathly hand of terrorism when a car bomb exploded in Omagh. Just as
the Spanish people prayed for us at that dark time, so too should we remember all those who died
in Madrid last week. May God comfort and console the families of the bereaved and may their loved
ones find eternal rest and happiness in His presence.

Peace in Northern Ireland
If the awful and tragic events of last week teach us anything, it is that all of us must work
unceasingly for peace here on our own island. Here, at this time, in Patrick’s own land, the
challenges to peace are many and great. A just and lasting peace must consign for good an end
to all forms of paramilitarism and the restoration of an inclusive, stable and effective executive
in Northern Ireland.

My prayer for all of us on this St. Patrick’s Day is taken from St. Patrick’s Breastplate:

“Christ be in all hearts thinking about me
Christ be on all tongues telling of me
Christ be the vision in eyes that see me
In ears that hear me
Christ ever be.”

-Ends-

——————————————————————————–

* St. Patrick’s, His Writings and Muirchu’s Life, edited and translated by ABE Hood, London, 1978.

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