Teachers and parents are struggling to compete with a lot of “contradictory messages” being hurled at young people by “contemporary culture,” Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh has said.
Speaking at the annual Foundation Lecture of the Edmund Rice Schools Trustees in Belfast last night, Archbishop Martin warned of a “creeping despair and emptiness” which had resulted in the loss of too many of young people through suicide.
The Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh, who will succeed Cardinal Sean Brady in August, described the “prevalence of depression” among Ireland’s young people as “the most saddening feature of recent years.”
Speaking at the Annual Foundation Lecture of the Edmund Rice Schools Trustees in Belfast on Thursday evening, Archbishop Martin warned of a “creeping despair and emptiness” which had resulted in the loss of too many of young people through suicide.
The Derry man told those attending the lecture in St Mary’s University College that teachers and parents were struggling to compete with a lot of contradictory messages being hurled at young people by contemporary culture.
These include the cult of celebrity, binge drinking, drugs and pornography, he said.
The Archbishop also said the digital communications revolution had esulted in a “breakdown in real and meaningful communication and friendships.”
Recalling his visit to his alma mater, St Columb’s College in Derry, on Monday last during which he spoke to several hundred senior pupils, he said he couldn’t help thinking back 35 years to when he was a student there.
“It is difficult to comprehend the magnitude of the changes that have taken place since then in education, the Church and society. The world is now a very different place.”
Those years had seen a steep decline in weekly practice among Catholics in Ireland, and like other parts of Western Europe, there had been a “certain loss of the ‘sense of the sacred’, increasing individualism and disengagement from community, and a tendency towards ethical relativism.”
He said the gradual drift of people away from Mass and the Sacraments meant that increasingly people live their lives with little or no reference to belief or trust in God, he said.
“A considerable number of Baptised Catholics in Ireland are in need of a ‘new evangelisation’,” he said as he acknowledged that “the dark cloud of abuse, with all its shame and scandal,” had contributed to this.