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Cardinal Calls Irish to the Faith of St. Patrick

March 17th, 2009
Zenit News Agency (www.zenit.org)

Remember the man who described himself as an ambassador for God and who prayed that it might never happen that he should lose the people which God had won for himself at the end of the earth.

ARMAGH, Northern Ireland (Zenit) - An Irish cardinal is calling for a renewal of faith among his country's people this St. Patrick's Day, beyond the traditional celebration of culture and heritage.

Cardinal Sean Brady, archbishop of Armagh and primate of Ireland, said this in a St. Patrick's Day message released today by the Irish bishops' conference.

On this day, he affirmed, "Irish men and women, and those who claim Irish descent, will gather to celebrate their identity and their heritage."

He added, "St. Patrick’s Day unites Irish people all over the world" due to the saint's image as a "symbol of Irish history and of Irish heritage."

However, the cardinal noted, "to reduce Patrick to a symbol of that kind, worthy as it may be, without any reference to his own Christian faith distorts the truth and in no way does justice to the real stature of the man."

He cautioned his fellow Irish to not lose the focus of the March 17 celebration, a time "not just to celebrate Irish culture and identity, but also to remember the man who described himself as an ambassador for God and who prayed that it might never happen that he should lose the people which God had won for himself at the end of the earth."

Cardinal Brady expressed the hope that "more and more Irish people, who have lost their connection with faith, will rediscover it and rediscover what St. Patrick called 'the joy and love of faith.'"

He recalled the violence in Northern Ireland, stating that "all of us must work unceasingly for peace here on our island." He added: "I would urge all citizens to redouble efforts to build a peaceful society. Violence is not the answer.

"I would ask that all people support the politicians who are working so hard to move away from the dark days of our past, to build a better future on foundations of trust, justice and respect for all."

Using the words of St. Patrick's Breastplate, he expressed a prayer for all the Irish: "Christ be in all hearts thinking about me; Christ be on all tongues telling of me; Christ be the vision in eyes that see me;
In ears that hear me, Christ ever be."

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