The General Meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference discussed racism, xenophobia, and religious intolerance in Ireland as part of a very full agenda at St Patrick's College, Maynooth
The Summer 2019 General Meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference has concluded in the Columba Centre, Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, with the bishops issuing a statement on their concern at racism in Ireland.
Having worked through a very full agenda over the course of the General Meeting, the bishops, including Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly; Bishop Fintan Monahan, Bishop of Killalloe and Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore; have issued a Christian response to religious intolerance, racism and bigotry. All three are responsible for diocese in The Premier County.
Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore
The statement points to Ireland's long tradition of emigration stating that for generations, women and men have left our shores in search of work and better living conditions with many making an enormous contribution to their host countries while others returned home to enrich our society and economy with their experience.
"Today, unlike the past, migrants from other countries live and work side-by-side with Irish people. These are our neighbours and part of our community, whose children go to the local school and develop friendships and play together. Migrants have their own culture, language and religious affiliation while bringing many gifts which are, as Pope John Paul II said, offered to a society which in a sense has less right to them than their own country of origin (cf. Laborem Exercens, 23).
"Some of those who come to Ireland have escaped from very dangerous situations, including religious persecution. On top of the trauma of losing their homes, their jobs and often their families, they now face the challenge of being strangers here, of starting again without a network, where language, the education system, customs and culture are quite different.
Bishop Fintan Monahan, Bishop of Killalloe
Bishops said, “We wish to express our concern about the rising number of incidents of racism, xenophobia, and religious intolerance in Ireland - carried out sometimes by those who consider themselves faithful Christians - and which can occur anonymously or otherwise on social media, in quiet conversations, by open verbal onslaughts or through physical violence.
“We have noted the recent reports of both the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance as it applies to Ireland, and the Good Relations Indicators annual update in Northern Ireland which, along with feedback from people in our own parishes and dioceses, give us cause for pastoral concern in this regard.
“Human dignity does not, however, depend on the colour of a person’s skin, their nationality, accent, or their religious affiliation. Every person is created in the image of God and called into a relationship with Him.
“In our rapidly changing Ireland, we appeal for a new-found respect for every human person, without exception, and a complete avoidance of the use of offence language. To prevent bigotry, religious intolerance and racism, we encourage the building of relationships at local level so that everyone can feel welcome wherever we gather. We especially ask parents, teachers, young people, youth leaders, priests and religious, journalists, politicians, employers and sports coaches to actively reject racism, intolerance and sectarianism.”
“We join in the widespread criticism of others of the undignified living conditions and treatment of those living in direct provision centres. As Christians, we are called to follow the example of Jesus as set out in His parable of The Good Samaritan,” the statement concludes.
Other areas discussed by the bishops at the General Meeting included: relationships and sexuality education ;safeguarding children ; World Communications Day and the use of digital media as a force for good; thanking parishioners for support during Lent and cyclone in southern Africa; and Catholic Schools Week 2020.