Cardinal Seán Brady speaking notes at the State reception in Dublin Castle honouring his elevation to the College of Cardinals, followed by the speech of An Taoiseach, Mr Bertie Ahern TD

04 Feb 2008


4th February 2008

Cardinal Seán Brady speaking notes at the State Reception in Dublin Castle honouring his elevation to the College of Cardinals,

followed by the speech of An Taoiseach, Mr Bertie Ahern TD.

Taoiseach, Ministers of State, Deputies and Senators, representatives of other Churches and Faith Communities:

When he spoke in St. Peter’s Basilica on Saturday 24 November last on the occasion of the Consistory, Pope Benedict XVI said that it was an, “event that always inspires special emotion”, one “gladdened by this eloquent sign of Catholic unity”.

Taoiseach I am very grateful to you for this Reception at which we can manifest our unity as a people and our gladness at the honour Pope Benedict bestowed on our country in the unprecedented appointment of a third Irish Cardinal. I am particularly pleased that my predecessor as Archbishop of Armagh, Cardinal Cahal Daly could be with us this evening. Like you Taoiseach, he is a man who has been steadfast and courageous in the search for peace in Ireland. His impact on the spiritual, moral and intellectual formation of our country has been immense and, I have no doubt, will be celebrated by generations to come. Cardinal Daly, I am very honoured that you could be with us here this evening.

The Holy Father on the occasion of the Consistory went on to address what he called a respectful deferential greeting to the Government representatives who had assembled there from every part of the world.

Indeed, the Secretary of State, Cardinal Bertone commented to me on the high level and strong representation from Ireland – North and South – on that occasion. The presence of Her Excellency, President McAleese, and of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Dermot Ahern, along with the other members of the delegation was a source of great satisfaction to me personally and to many other people. It was, in my opinion, a clear recognition of the importance of the place of faith in the life of so many people in Ireland, something I know is appreciated by representatives of the many faith traditions present here this evening.

Let me also take this opportunity Taoiseach to thank you and your Government for the determination with which you established the structured dialogue between the Government Churches, Philosophical and non confessional Organisations of Ireland in February of last year. It did not go unnoticed that your Government was among the first, if not the first, to establish this initiative under the then draft European Constitution. While recognising the autonomy and distinct vocation of both, this initiative has given a new, mature and transparent basis to the relationship between Churches, faith communities and the State in their mutual responsibility for the common good. I hope it is an initiative which might be taken up in due course by those political parties outside of Government. I certainly found that the recent meetings between the political parties in Northern Ireland and our Northern Ireland Catholic Council for Social Affairs were very helpful to us to and the parties.

The structured dialogue is also a concrete expression of the new diversity which characterises our country. This is a diversity which we celebrate. It is a diversity which, through the invaluable work of Churches and others at local level, has become integrated into our social, religious and political life with consiberable ease. While we should never be complacent, or fail to provide adequate resources and rights to support those who have come to live among us from other countries, the relative success of integration in Ireland is due in no small part I believe to the culture of care, kindness and welcome which flows from the Christian faith. It is a culture shared by many of those who have come to live in Ireland in recent years. It is a culture which contributes to the development of cohesive communities and civic responsibility. This is why we all have a stake, Government, citizen, Churches and faith communities in ensuring the freedom and rights of religion in our society. As our event this evening demonstrates, there is no contradiction between recognition of the important role played by Churches and other faith groups in society and a necessary separation of Church and State.

Indeed I would like to acknowledge that the civil authorities of this country, both North and South, have been extremely gracious and generous in their participation at the Consistory itself and the various events connected with it.
BR> I want to single out the kindness of the Ambassador of Ireland to the Holy See, His Excellency, Ambassador Noel Fahey. He and his staff have been exceptionally kind, considerate and helpful.

I lived eighteen years of my life in Rome. At all times I found the staff of both Irish Embassies most efficient, courteous, professional, well informed and helpful. I am very grateful to them and to successive Irish Governments for their support of the unique and historic place of the Irish College in Rome.

I would also like to pay tribute this evening to the many other Irish Diplomats and representatives I have met, both formally and informally over the years. From those who have worked on the peace process in Northern Ireland to those who work closely with Trocaire and other Church based development projects across the world. In every case I can say that my experience of our Irish representatives here and abroad has been one of very professional, committed and generous people with a high reputation among their host nations and diplomatic colleagues. You instinctively feel very proud to be Irish in their company. I want to thank them and I want to thank the Government for its continued partnership and support

For this and many other reasons I believe that developments in Europe are of great significance to the people of this country and hence our lively interest in the current debate about the Lisbon Treaty.

I welcome the structured dialogue between the government and faith groups in this country which includes Christian churches. I think some good work has already been done. It is appreciated. This mode of communication is a most useful channel. I think it would profitably be extended to other interested parties in Dáil Éireann as has happened in Northern Ireland.

Taoiseach, I would like to thank you for your talk at the Conference, hosted in Croke Park Hotel last May on the Social Doctrine of the Church and also for the very significant contribution of the Irish Government to aid programmes.

Reference has been made to the Peace Process. In reality, it is politicians who make peace.

Abbot Christopher Jameson became known to viewers when his Benedictine community were featured on the BBC series The Monastery. From that series he has written a guide to finding sanctuary. In it he includes a piece purposely and provocatively called: Religion Causes Peace because a phrase most commonly heard is the opposite: Religion causes war.

He believes that today religion has a vital role to play in promoting peace. He cites research from Bradford University to support his view. The research is analysed in the 32 wars of the 20th century and it was considered only three had a significant religious element. He goes on to say that terrorism is fed by despair, war is sustained by fear, religion offers hope against despair and love that drives out fear and that is the road to genuine peace.

I wish you and your colleagues continued success.


Speech by the Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern, T.D.,
at a Reception in honour of Sean Cardinal Brady
in Dublin Castle,
on Monday 4 February, 2008 at 7.00 p.m.

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you here to Dublin Castle as we gather to celebrate the honour conferred on the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland by his appointment to the College of Cardinals.

It is an unfortunate feature of life that those who achieve distinction and honour in their chosen field are often the subject of a degree of begrudgery, in which congratulations are mixed with expressions of surprise, or even quiet emphasis on shortcomings.

It is clear that the elevation to the College of Cardinals of Cardinal Sean Brady was a magnificent exception to that rule. His personal qualities, his pastoral concern, his record of engagement with his flock and with all of those coming into contact with him, as well as his quiet but insistent support for peace and reconciliation, have been universally recalled and admired. His appointment has truly been a matter for celebration.

I, too, have reason to join in this celebration. I have known the Cardinal for many years. I have admired the quiet but determined manner in which he has provided leadership in his own diocese and in the wider community. That leadership has been based upon his capacity to be close to ordinary people in their everyday lives, in times of joy and suffering alike. It has enabled him to understand their fears, as well as their hopes. It has enabled him to understand those from other traditions, and the concerns and experiences that have led so often to alienation and hostility.

His clear and unassuming style has enabled him to communicate to all his deep commitment to the dignity of all people, which underpins his approach to his responsibilities within the Church, and his engagement in public life.

For Cardinal Sean Brady, reconciliation is not a matter of institutions or politics, so much as the patient building of mutual respect and the civic values which flow from our common humanity.

In that respect, Cardinal Brady represents a significant strand of the peace process in Northern Ireland, in the form of the clergy of all denominations who have been willing to stand with their people in the darkest days, and walk with them into new and uncharted territory. Firm in their own convictions, they have helped others to go beyond the familiar and the comfortable, to urge them forward, and to support them when progress seemed slow or impossible.

Too often, the conflict on this island has been represented as a form of religious war. It is true that there have been religious overtones to the conflict, and that denominational loyalty has acted as shorthand for significant cultural and political difference. But it must equally be clear that religious commitment has proved an effective foundation for the search for reconciliation and for institutions and relationships which transcend historical differences. This is the case even where deep theological and confessional differences remain as strong as ever. The shared Christian calling to peace-making has been stronger than these divisions. It is for that reason, as well as many others, that Pope Benedict XVI has acclaimed developments in the peace process in Northern Ireland as a sign of hope for those involved in conflict around the globe. He might add that the contribution of pastors to this process should act as an inspiration to others in ministry, in other settings, to be similarly engaged.

The leadership role to which Cardinal Brady has now been called in the Church involves care, not only for the flock in Ireland, but a particular role in the leadership of the Church throughout the world. This international perspective is, of course, in keeping with the great missionary tradition of all of the denominations on this island. That tradition continues today, not only in the work of Irish missionaries but the many others who work in overseas development. It is also reflected in the strong public support for our growing commitment to Overseas Development Aid. Cardinal Brady’s own interest and involvement in the wider world has been reflected in his concern for the Church in Iraq and through his recent visit to the troubled territory of the Holy Land.

In hosting this reception, the Government is reflecting the honour which is due to the place of religion and of faith communities in our society. There are those who would argue that religious belief should be confined to the private domain, as a matter of purely personal choice and practice. For some, this is achieved only when all reference to belief in God, and the behavioural and ethical implications of that belief, are excluded from public debate. That is not my position, nor that of my Government. Neither is it one of privileging religion and religious organisations. On the contrary, the civic and legal responsibilities of individuals and institutions must apply, and be respected equally, by all.

The proper stance of the State towards the Church and faith communities should be one of engagement and respectful dialogue. The State must acknowledge and recognise the spiritual dimension of its citizens. It must see as legitimate the consequences which flow from that spiritual dimension; and the importance of their religious faith for so many of our citizens. Equally, in its policies, the Government must be respectful of those who do not hold a religious faith, but have clear philosophical and ethical positions, and a right to have these reflected in political debate. The appropriate way for the State to reflect this is to provide acknowledgement and sympathetic engagement for faith communities, to celebrate their traditions and contribution, to support citizens of faith in their right to holistic personal development, and to do so in ways which reflect a truly pluralistic and inclusive approach that befits a democratic republic.

As we can now see very clearly, a State which did not acknowledge this dimension in the life of its citizens would be missing out on a significant part of the cultural and ethical framework of its society. While some might hope that economic development and scientific progress might diminish the role of religion in contemporary society, all the evidence suggests that the religious quest for meaning remains strong, across all of the great religious traditions. Effective governance and integration into a cohesive society, requires that the State acknowledge and respond to this reality. It is for that reason that the Government has initiated the process of dialogue with the Churches, faith communities and non-confessional bodies. While it is early in this process, I believe that there is great potential for good from this engagement.

This dialogue anticipates the provision for engagement and dialogue with the faith communities at European level, provided for in the Reform Treaty. While some have been disappointed at the absence of explicit religious elements in the Treaty, it firmly acknowledges the rich cultural tradition to which religion and faith communities have contributed and upon which modern Europe has developed. The values which are explicitly stated in the Treaty to underpin the European project are entirely in keeping with the dignity of the human person as understood within the great religious traditions, and especially within Christianity.

The union of peoples, in Europe and elsewhere, cannot be built by Treaties and political institutions alone. It must reflect a real sense of engagement and mutual support, which spring from culture, trade and direct personal experience. The Churches in Europe have a major role to play in the building up of that sense of shared destiny, and in arguing for development which is consistent with the ethical foundations of European society. The Reform Treaty is supported by the Government not least because it provides a solid basis for just such an engagement.

In celebrating the appointment of Cardinal Sean Brady to the College of Cardinals, I would like also to mention the representative of the Holy Father in Ireland, Archbishop Lazzarotto, who leaves us in a few days time after seven very successful years as Papal Nuncio. The Nuncio has been a good friend to so many people within and outside the Roman Catholic Church during his very lively and challenging term of office. I would like to express to him our best wishes for his new appointment as Papal Nuncio to Australia, where the presence of so many Irish and Italian communities should help to make him feel at home.

One of the ways in which the Cardinal’s elevation was celebrated was through the coverage of the ceremonies in Rome by RTE, which enabled many thousands to participate in these joyful events. I would, therefore, also like to mention Fr. Dermod McCarthy, who has just retired as Editor of Religious Affairs in RTE and has contributed so much to public broadcasting in Ireland over the past seventeen years. I would like to express my good wishes to him at this time.

This evening is, however, primarily about Cardinal Sean Brady. I know that his modesty has caused him to feel uncomfortable about many of the warm tributes which have been paid to him. These tributes are entirely justified. His careful touch is evident in many things. For example, I understand that his titular Church in Rome was originally a Dominican Church, and is now served by Franciscans – very ecumenical! It adjoins a very good hotel which, I understand, has a very fine rooftop restaurant and bar, which I am sure will be appreciated by many Irish pilgrims! After tonight, he will not only have two Churches to his credit – in Rome and in Armagh, but also two castles, since I know that he greatly appreciated the reception offered for him in Hillsborough Castle.

On behalf of the Government, your Eminence, I wish you many years of happiness, fulfilment and success in the mission to which you have been called by the honour conferred on you by The Holy Father. Guím beannacht Dé ort, saol fada agus neart don saothair tábhachtach atá romhat.


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Martin Long, Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer (087 233 7797)