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Joint Message by the Archbishops of Armagh for St Patrick’s Day 2022 in solidarity with Ukraine

The Most Revd John McDowell & The Most Revd Eamon Martin

Joint Message by the Archbishops of Armagh for St Patrick’s Day 2022 in solidarity with Ukraine

As this year’s St Patrick’s Day approached, the Church of Ireland Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop John McDowell, and the Catholic Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, led the annual St Patrick’s lecture and discussion organised by Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council in the Market Place Theatre & Arts Centre, Armagh. The annual lecture and discussion reflects on how the witness of St Patrick speaks into our contemporary world. This year’s theme was St Patrick as a model for reconciliation and peace. Following this event, the archbishops met with assembled media to deliver a joint St Patrick’s Day message and to express concern about the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

Readers are invited to watch the message in the following video:

The full message is as follows:

Like millions of others in Europe and around the world we are deeply disturbed and saddened by the terror of war which has been devastating life and property in Ukraine for the past three weeks. We call for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the relentless bombardment which has trapped countless civilians in a nightmare of destruction and displaced millions of others from their homes and families. We fear that the humanitarian crisis which this madness has caused may yet accelerate before it dissipates.

It would be unconscionable for us to celebrate the feast of Saint Patrick this year without offering the solidarity of our prayers, charity and welcome for the people of Ukraine. We pray for the Ukrainian people who already share this island with us, and for their families and friends who are trapped in the horror of destruction and bloodshed at home. We join our small Lenten sacrifices with their immense suffering. We also acknowledge the many Russian people, here and in their homeland, who bear no responsibility for this heart–breaking situation and who share our desire for peace and an end to this terrible violence.

Tradition tells us that Saint Patrick himself, in the face of great danger and peril to his own life, prayed his Breastplate Prayer, taking comfort in his faith that God does not forsake us, and that Christ is present with all who suffer: Christ is always with us, behind us and before us. We appeal through our prayers this Saint Patrick’s Day for an end to this pointless massacre and pulverising of the property, bodies and spirit of the Ukrainian people. May all Christians of Europe, including Patriarch Kirill and the Russian Orthodox Church, unite in daily spiritual and practical efforts in support of a ceasefire, humanitarian outreach and the immediate laying down of weapons. Christ’s cause can only be advanced by Christ’s means.

Although we are many miles away from the horrific bombardment and loss of life, the sacrifice of the Ukrainian people shockingly comes home to us this Saint Patrick’s Day. It is encouraging that Christians, people of other faiths and all those of goodwill here in Ireland are instinctively reaching out in a massive humanitarian effort of support and solidarity, especially towards the millions of refugees who have fled their homeland. At a young age Saint Patrick was captured and trafficked to these shores – no doubt frightened, disoriented, distressed and fearful for his life. In the opening words of his Confession, he describes how he and others “were scattered among many nations”.

So too the thousands of refugees arriving in Ireland must feel scattered amongst the nations. We pray that our land of welcomes will continue to offer compassionate respite to our sisters and brothers in their time of need. This is the light of the Gospel shining through the darkness: the outpouring of prayer, charity and solidarity across Ireland towards the people of Ukraine has been heartening. Many individuals and parish communities have already been extremely generous in establishing active links with charitable projects in Ukraine and along its borders to support refugees and those remaining in their homeland. We wholeheartedly support and encourage these efforts.

We also encourage Christians in Ireland, and our diaspora, to be inspired by the life and witness of Saint Patrick to be reconcilers and peacemakers. It is poignant to think that as the world comes out of a global pandemic which reminded us so strongly of our connectedness and interdependence, that our continent has so easily lapsed into the pointless divisions and devastation of warfare. War is a defeat for humanity. It represents the failure of politics, diplomacy and dialogue.

Our community reflection here in Ireland on what is happening today in Europe should help us learn lessons for our own peace process, about the importance of never taking our progress in peace for granted, never giving up on dialogue and the building of bridges and mutual understanding across historical divides. The tragedy of what we are witnessing in Ukraine during these days impels us again here in Ireland to work for a genuine human fraternity as the only way to resolve differences and conflicts.

For all the people of Ukraine we pray Saint Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer:

Christ with me, Christ before me,

Christ behind me, Christ within me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ at my right, Christ at my left,

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me. Christ with me, Christ before me,

Christ behind me, Christ within me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ at my right, Christ at my left,

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.

For further information please contact:

Church of Ireland Press Office 
Church of Ireland House 
61–67 Donegall Street 
Belfast
BT1 2QH 

Tel: (028) 9082 8880 – from Northern Ireland & Great Britain

Tel: (048) 9082 8880 – from Republic of Ireland

Email: Press Office

Peter Cheney

Press Officer 07774 295 369

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