The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, has said he would back a border poll for a United Ireland.
In today’s Sunday Independent he stressed that he believes all of the political leaders throughout the island need to “open up questions of identity and belonging and to honestly face them”.
The Irish primate emphasised that there were “a whole bunch of new people living in this island now who have other cultures, other identities and other senses of belonging”.
“It is up to all of us who believe in a United Ireland to be able to present to everyone as to why political unity on this island, of whatever nature, would be, will be more prosperous, more welcoming, more peaceful, more diverse, and more accommodating than our current arrangement is,” he said.
With the coronavirus having severely dented the church’s finances the cleric warned that some rural churches throughout Ireland could end up closing their doors for good.
“It has to be a possibility, yes. We have to recognise the numbers are down therefore we don’t have the same needs or the same ability to maintain all of our properties,” he said.
He also believed the numbers of vocations to the priesthood “will continue to decline until there is an increase in practice” and said he accepts “that Ireland is no longer able to provide enough vocations to be able to sustain the sacramental life that we have become used to”.
On the subject of clerical abuse, he does not believe the Catholic Church should ever move on from its past when asked if it will ever recover from the hurt it has caused to so many.
“If by recovering you mean move on, I don’t think so, I don’t think they should. I’ve always been very reluctant to suggest that the church has the right to leave it behind. Because if we are walking daily with victims of abuse, and if we want to show empathy for them, then we need to accept that we don’t have the right to recover.”
He added he finds it “extremely difficult to comprehend how one of my brother priests could have so betrayed his promise of priesthood”.