The Catholic Primate of All-Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh has made a new appeal for information to help find the remains of the six people known as “The Disappeared”. RTÉ News reported that Archbishop Eamon Martin celebrated Mass with family members of the victims in Armagh this afternoon.
As happened with his predecessor, Cardinal Sean Brady, Archbishop Martin this afternoon celebrated Palm Sunday mass in Armagh with families who had a loved one killed and secretly buried by republicans during the troubles. Since the mid-1990’s ten bodies have been recovered but six are still missing.
A dig for the remains of one of them, Joe Lynskey, began in a County Meath bog earlier this month.
Archbishop Martin said some families are living a long Good Friday. He appealed to the conscience of anyone who has information that might help to come for forward. His hope is the six affected families could, at this late stage, be able to offer a christian burial to their loved ones.
In recent years republicans, through confidential channels set up by the Irish and British governments, gave information that led to the recovery of the remains of several victims.
Annually on Palm Sunday in the College Chapel of Saint Patrick’s Grammar School in Armagh a Mass of Remembrance is held. For the past sixteen years the gathering helps the families to connect with each other in solidarity and compassion. Eleven of the seventeen families have recovered the long-lost bodies of their loved ones.
The text of his homily was published by the Catholic Communications Office:
“Some families are living a long Good Friday, and it is difficult for them to know the Easter promise of resurrection”
“I appeal to the conscience of anyone who has information that might help to come forward to the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains” – Archbishop Martin.
“It is a humbling experience for me to meet and pray for the first time today with families of ‘The Disappeared’. For sixteen years the families of those abducted, murdered and secretly buried, have gathered annually on Palm Sunday here at Saint Patrick’s College in Armagh for a Mass of Remembrance. The gathering helps the families to connect with each other in solidarity and compassion.
Over these sixteen years the families have comforted each other, and consoling friendships have formed among them. There have been moments of hope when fresh information has come forward leading to a new search. There have been great disappointments when some of those searches have proven futile. And, thank God, during that time, eleven of the seventeen families have recovered the long-lost bodies of their loved ones, allowing them to begin at last to find some closure.
For other families the pain, uncertainty and waiting continues. Today, as we begin Holy Week, their sorrowful burden reminds me of how our Saviour had to carry His heavy Cross along the Via Dolorosa. Some families are living a long Good Friday, and it is difficult for them to know the Easter promise of resurrection. The recovery, last October in County Meath, of Brendan Megraw’s body, encourages them not to lose hope. I appeal to the conscience of anyone who has information that might help to come forward to the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains so that, even at this late stage, the remaining families can experience the consolation of being able to offer a Christian burial to their loved ones. They come with the assurance that the information can only be used to recover the bodies of those disappeared”.
Archbishop Martin also issued a Joint Holy Week and Easter 2015 message with the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh, Archbishop Richard Clarke:
We join in wishing you all, wherever you may be, a blessed Holy Week and a joyful Eastertide. We invite you to enter with real spiritual seriousness into the powerful story of Holy Week so that you can experience personally and profoundly the joy and happiness of Easter.
Easter Day is far more than a happy ending to the sad tale of Good Friday. Rather it is the celebration of the ultimate victory of God over all that damages, terrifies and destroys us.
On Good Friday it seemed that the worst that the world can do was victorious over the best that there can ever be. The crucifixion was the rejection of all that it is to be truly human. It was the refusal to believe that only in Christ can men and women find their truest identity and fullest humanity. It was the attack of darkness on the reality of a total Love.
All around us today, we still see powerful signs of that same darkness in our world. It is found in in the horrors of cruel and vicious inhumanity to those who are seen as other; in the day to day debasement of the dignity of those who are unable to defend themselves; in physical violence, murder, war and persecution. It issues in the extreme selfishness of some individual lives that have fallen away catastrophically from any generosity and forgiveness.
But in the compassionate cry of abandonment from the cross, Good Friday reminds us that God is to be found not among those who can destroy others most effectively, but rather totally with those who are at the receiving end of the envy, spite and viciousness of others.
Saint Paul describes the resurrection of Christ as the “first fruits” – the evidence that there will be a harvest of hope, and a final victory of love over hatred, injustice and futility.
May we together follow trustfully with Jesus Christ on the way to the Cross, and share fully with him in the joy of his resurrection. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed, Alleluia!
+Eamon Martin +Richard Clarke
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh