The Bishop of Ossory has praised the “sacrifices” of the Easter Rising “heroes” but warned that the events of 1916 should not be distorted in an attempt to justify acts of terror.
Instead, Bishop Dermot Farrell urged this generation to look to the Good Friday Agreement and “reap the benefits of peace”.
“The sacrifices of the heroes of Easter 1916 were possible because of the strength of the cause in which they believed,” he said during his homily at the Irish state’s annual 1916 commemoration ceremony in the Church of the Sacred Heart, Arbour Hill, Dublin.
“My prayer for us all today, on this day of commemoration, is that we will be able to enkindle a similar dynamism to that which inspired our forbearers to give their lives – in ourselves first, and then, more easily, in those to whom we seek to inspire.
“The great challenge, now as it was then, is to create a society which will enable all of its citizens to flourish in equality in a country with an identifiably distinctive voice in Europe and in the world, an Irish republic, a sovereign independent state to use the words of the Proclamation.”
Referring to the day’s first reading, which heard how David refused to kill Saul, Bishop Farrell pointed out that in order to create such a flourishing society those who are a part of it must find the strength to be more like David, choosing peace over the evils of “vengeance, retribution and ruthless justice”.
“Today, we too need to stand with David who overcame evil with good in his attitude towards Saul,” he said. “In a democracy every single person without exception needs to find the strength to begin to live out of such a logic.
“Rather than bending the events of Easter Week 1916 in an attempt to claim legitimacy for a merciless campaign of indiscriminate acts of violence and murder, another logic is required,” the bishop continued. “Vengeance, retribution and ruthless justice only amplify the power of evil, as the bearer of each new grudge acts in ways that inspire ever more hate and evil propensities.”
Bishop Farrell urged society to use the Good Friday Agreement as an opportunity to “reap the benefits of peace” instead of following “baser human instincts”, which he said may tell us that enemies are to be “confronted, defeated and destroyed”. He warned that such behaviour is why our world is in a “seemingly endless cycle of violence and retaliation”.
“We see this cycle played out among small children, and among great nations, and everything in between. But what happens when someone interrupts this cycle of violence and retaliation and makes an attempt at reconciliation? That dynamic is illustrated by today’s first reading when David passes up an opportunity to kill his mortal enemy, King Saul. In our time the Good Friday Agreement has a similar dynamic: it allows a generation never to witness the horrors of violence, but reap the benefits of peace.”
Picture: A view of Sackville Street (O’Connell St) and the River Liffey at Eden Quay showing the devastation wrought during the Easter Rising. The rebellion, which began on the 24th April, claimed the lives of 794 civilians and 521 soldiers and police. (PA).