Belfast Telegraph

Archbishop of Dublin speaks against 'culture of violence'

The Archbishop of Dublin has urged the public to reject a "culture of violence".

Speaking at the annual Michaelmas New Law Term Service in St Michan's Church, Dublin, on Monday, Diarmuid Martin referred to the violence of drug cartels, gangland criminals and moneylenders.

He also warned about the "violence of homelessness" and stressed that public policy "must always have a special focus on those who are poorest".

"We need unequivocally to reject a culture of violence: the violence of criminal drug gangs, the exploitation by gangland criminals of fragile young people who have fallen victim to their business of death," Archbishop Martin said in his homily.

"We have to overcome the violence of moneylenders."

He warned that "violence in the home, violence against children, sexual violence and violence against people because of their sexuality, violence and hate talk about immigrants" must also be addressed openly .

Archbishop Martin also referred to "violence and character assassination perpetrated under the anonymity of social media", saying violence was not just physical.

There was also "violence of exclusion and the frustration of not being able to exercise one's basic rights and achieve basic aspirations and hopes", he said.

"There is the violence of homelessness and the violence against the hopes of those who seek asylum from violence," he said.

Archbishop Martin also used his homily to stress that public policy must always focus on the poorest.

"A special focus on the needs of those who live in poverty and are victims of exploitation is a foundational dimension of the administration of justice.

"The formulation and the application of principles of law must always be focused on curbing the arrogance of the powerful and protecting and fostering the rights of those who are on the margins of society and cannot speak for themselves," he added.

Dr Laurence Graham, president of the Methodist Church in Ireland, took the opportunity in his sermon to give thanks that the country has "proper law" where "anyone can have a hearing, where anyone can have the opportunity to defend themselves".

"Let us thank God that we live in a country where no one can be told you have no right to speak in your defence," he said.

"We all know that in some places around the world that is not the case and large numbers of people are voiceless with little or no chance to defend themselves," he said.

Dr Graham added: "Law is crucial for the proper functioning of any society and for the protection of the rights of everyone, especially the weakest in society.

"Let us give thanks for law as we remind ourselves that it is crucial for the proper functioning of a society and for the defence of people's rights."

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