WEDNESDAY, 19 AUGUST, 1998, 11.30AM

Today, once again, our hearts go out to the Grimes family as we gather for the funeral of Mary, loving wife, devoted mother, and outstanding grandmother. We are all here to offer our sympathy and the support of our prayers as they struggle to cope with this tremendous loss. The death of a beloved wife and mother always brings great pain and sorrow but when that death coincides with the tragic killing of her daughter, Avril, and grand-daughter, Maura, the pain becomes unbearable, the grief incredible. If this triple tragedy were due to natural causes or an accident it would be already immensely sad. But this is the work of fellow human beings and our hearts are filled, not only with sadness but with anger and outrage. That it was carried out under the pretext of patriotism, adds shame to that outrage and sorrow.

We are here to pray with you and for you. We are joined by hundreds of thousands of people who are thinking of you at this time and asking God to give you the strength which you need during these terrible days. We pray especially that your pain may be eased and your sorrow lessened and your memories healed.

Father James, Mary’s brother-in-law, has prayed for forgiveness for the people who carried out this terrible atrocity. This prayer is yet another example of the wonderful courage and dignity which the Grimes family and so many other families have shown over these days. As we re-echo that prayer, we know that there are people who cannot find it in their hearts to share those sentiments at this time. We also know that God pardons those who turn to him with a sincere heart, no matter how terrible the sin. But we mortals find it more difficult to forgive. It would make it easier if those responsible were to show remorse and indicate a change of heart.

The efforts made in recent days to offer an explanation show that the bombers realise that something went terribly wrong. They need to go further, much further. They need to realise that their whole campaign is utterly wrong and totally evil and completely devoid of justification.

How could the murder of baby Maura, of baby Brenda Devine, of eight year old Oran Doherty, of nine teenagers, of twelve adult women and of four adult men, all of them innocent victims, be other than something very evil? If those responsible will not listen to the voice of the ballot box, let them at least listen to the voice of revulsion, expressed so clearly and so powerfully and so consistently. Let them listen to the voice of their own conscience and ask: Is this the kind of person I really wish to be? Are these the kind of values I wish to live by? Let them answer those questions honestly and end this senseless campaign of violence permanently now.

Last Saturday’s tragedy has once more brought home the lesson of the dreadful horror of violence. That is the sort of thing which bombs, once primed and planted, do. They kill and they maim; they wreck and they destroy. The experience must galvanise all of us to reject the path of violence totally once and for all.

The Omagh bomb has united a community in grief. Let it bring us all together to work to ensure that the hopes of peace are not ruined. Let it unite us all in praying and hoping that the worst atrocity may in fact prove to be last. We must continue to pray and to hope and to work. We do so in the belief that lasting peace is ultimately a divine gift as well as a human task. To do anything else other than to work and to hope and to pray for peace is to yield to despair and to give in to the temptation to believe that such peace is impossible. That would be the final surrender to those who instil terror and inflict violence. We owe it to the memory of those who have died to make sure that this does not happen and to do all we can to guarantee that they have not died in vain.

In the early Church the day of the death of a saint was regarded as her real birthday – the day of her birth into real and everlasting life. Mary Grimes was called from this earthly life on her birthday. We commend her, and Avril and Maura to the Lord, that the Lord may receive them into his place and raise them up, restored and renewed on the last day. As we do so I offer to her husband, Mick, to her family, to Father James, to all her relatives and friends, my sympathy, the sympathy of Bishop Clifford and of the priests and people of the Archdiocese of Armagh.

May she rest in peace.