The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland has denounced “new threats to life, peace and reconciliation in our land”.

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Archbishop Eamon Martin was speaking Sunday at a prayer service “For Ireland and for Humanity” at the Papal Cross near Drogheda, on the 40th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s “pilgrimage of peace” to Ireland.

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“The last six months has seen a return to death and bombing in the North, with increased sectarianism and still no sign of a functioning Assembly to protect and develop the peace process”, Martin deplored in his address.

“As Brexit looms, it seems at times that politics is descending into a dangerous factionalism which does nothing to solve the social and economic uncertainty of these days but only serves to erode the integrity of parliamentary democracy”.

The Archbishop also condemned the “brutal beating” almost two weeks ago of Kevin Lunney, a Northern Irish businessman kidnapped by a crime gang outside his home in Kinawley, Co Fermanagh, and tortured during a three hour ordeal.

“The ongoing violent feuds between criminal gangs remind us that we must all work together to build a culture of life and prevent the culture of barbarism and death from taking root and poisoning our land”, Martin said.

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Why it matters

The archbishop reserved some of his harshest words for the politicians in the UK Parliament who are pushing for the decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland.

That liberalisation will take effect on October 21 if the devolved government at Stormont, the seat of the Northern Ireland Assembly, is not restored by then.

Martin said it was “shocking… that the democratic process was so cynically manipulated in Westminster during the July holiday period to remove from law all explicit protections for unborn children in Northern Ireland up to 28 weeks in their mother’s womb”.

“I plead with political representatives to return to Stormont before the 21 October and end this barbaric abortion legislation”.

“The political impasse has gone on too long”, Martin denounced, calling on Northern Ireland representatives: “for the sake of life; for the sake of peace – make the necessary compromises and return to your posts – this is a critical moment”.

We as a Church “must consistently highlight the fundamental right to life and always speak out against attacks on innocent human life”, the archbishop said.

“The responsibility to build a culture of life… belongs to all of us”.

Martin invited the faithful to redouble their efforts to build a “culture of life” in Ireland and “to counter the language of hate, barriers, walls and separation with peacemaking, reconciliation, bridge-building and cooperation”.

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