30 December 2019, The Tablet

Irish primate defends Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg was guest presenter of BBC Radio 4's Today programme on 30 December 2019.

Irish primate defends Greta Thunberg

Climate activist Greta Thunberg speaking to the media
Ben Birchall/PA Wire/PA Images

The head of the Irish Church has hit out at those who attack the teenage climate campaigner Greta Thunberg, describing her as “prophetic” and urging people to listen more to young people and what they are saying.

Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh told The Tablet: “I can’t understand why people would choose to attack Greta Thunberg. She is passionate about what she believes; she is only a young girl and she is speaking prophetically to the world and what do we do? We attack her. We attack her message.”

“In fact, there are a lot of deniers who believe that this is all made up and yet we see the reality of climate change and we know scientists are absolutely unanimous in telling us that human behaviour is at least aggravating the problem.”

He spoke out as Greta Thunberg was invited to be guest presenter of BBC Radio 4's Today programme on 30 December 2019.

On the political impasse in Northern Ireland, Archbishop Martin said it is essential that the parties return to the Assembly.

Though the General Election had been won by a slogan to getting Brexit done, he stressed, “nothing has really been done; we have no idea yet what the impact is going to be on communities around the border”.

Looking to the future, the Archbishop of Armagh, whose diocese straddles both sides of the border, said: “I do think that this is a time for us to recalibrate relationships on this island for the greater good of everybody living on the island and to recalibrate the relationship between this island and Britain and work out what is the new relationship there; and to see what our relationship with Europe is going to be – it is going to be different.”

Although a referendum on a united Ireland could be divisive at this point, he said he couldn’t believe that political leaders didn’t see an opportunity to do something very new to “recalibrate relationships on this island”. 

The Archbishop also expressed concern over growing calls for euthanasia and assisted suicide.  Speaking to The Tablet, the Primate of All Ireland said: “It is no surprise that once a choice is made to take away the lives of the most vulnerable – the unborn children in the womb – it is inevitable that we begin to discuss where else can we take life.”

He stressed that the Church’s teaching and message on life remained the same even though Ireland had adopted much more liberal legislation on abortion.

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