Dublin archbishop: ‘Loss of empathy’ behind rise in knife crime in Ireland

Dublin archbishop: ‘Loss of empathy’ behind rise in knife crime in Ireland

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Dublin’s archbishop is warning that Ireland has “become desensitized to knife violence” after a series of stabbings in the country.

LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Dublin’s archbishop is warning that Ireland has “become desensitized to knife violence” after a series of stabbings in the country.

Dublin saw at least 5 stabbings in less than a week, one of which left a 16-year-old dead.

Josh Dunne died after a group of youths had a violent argument over a bike. The young man was an aspiring professional soccer player, who had played as a trialist for Scottish club Dundee United.

Speaking on Sunday, Archbishop Dermot Farrell offered his condolences to the Dunne family and spoke about the plague of knife violence affecting the country.

“Carrying a knife does not ensure your security. You do not leave your home carrying a knife with you for the sole purpose of peeling an apple. Rather, when you carry a knife you are travelling down a dangerous road full of risks,” the archbishop said.

“Sooner or later, it will be used in a malicious way which puts yourself and others in the way of serious injury or death. This is not the way to construct a world that is safe—safe for ourselves, safe for each other, safe for our children, and safe for the vulnerable—be they old or young, friend or stranger,” he said.

Farrell said that violence is “not the way of the strong; in the end, violence is the way of those who see no other way.”

He called on the people of Dublin to work together to build a “culture of non-violence” in the Irish capital.

“Where do we begin? First, human life is sacred, and we need to address the threat to life posed by knife violence with the full strength of our Catholic faith. Knife crime and violence, which is self-destructive, must always be condemned,” he said.

“Secondly, we have become desensitized to knife violence and the resulting tragic deaths. People of peace remain shocked by all manifestations of violence. Violence — on the street or in the home — is never ‘the way things are.’ While laws and regulations may help, we need a different way of thinking which turns such a dominant and destructive culture on its head. We need to come to the realization that in wielding a knife, everything can be lost, and nothing gained,” the archbishop added.

Farrell also said there is a spiritual issue at play: The loss of empathy towards other human beings.

“The truth of who we are — and of what we are — is at stake. Genuine empathy is the entry point into the commandment to love your neighbor and to live in peace. If the problem of violence in our country is to be overcome, we need a spiritual and moral conversion. We need to recover how we truly are — what it means to be a neighbor, what it means to be a sister or a brother, friend and neighbor,” he said.

Farrell admitted the path of non-violence is not easy, but said that courage is the mark of faith.

“In the end, the person of dynamic faith is not a credulous person, but a person of courage. Today we need God-given courage to communicate our vision of non-violence to a culture that advocates carrying knives and wielding them to intimate people or settle disagreements,” he said.

Last week, the Irish Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and Police Commissioner Drew Harris met to discuss the rise of knife crime in the country, and in particular in Dublin.

“The Minister and the Commissioner also discussed what more can be done to tackle knife crime. They agreed that strong community engagement, increased community safety and youth services are a key element in preventing and reducing crime,” a spokesperson told the Irish Times.

The spokesperson also said officials agreed that “further analysis” was needed to “provide greater insights into the level of violent incidents in society.”

Follow Charles Collins on Twitter: @CharlesinRome

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