Church of Ireland anti-racism initiative draws global support
Mary McAleese to launch event calling for parishes to ring their bells against xenophobia
Former president of Ireland Mary McAleese will launch the Joy of Bells initiative at Christ Church Cathedral in Waterford at 11am on Sunday. Photograph: Eric Luke
Support continues to grow throughout Ireland and internationally for next Sunday’s “Joy of Bells” initiative in opposition to racism and xenophobia.
Former president of Ireland Mary McAleese will launch the event, initiated by the Church of Ireland’s Dean of Waterford Maria Jansson, at Christ Church Cathedral in Waterford at 11am on Sunday to coincide with St Patrick’s weekend.
The Catholic bishops have encouraged parishes to ring their church bells next Sunday “so that, in ringing, they proclaim our Christian witness and proclamation of faith, trust, love, reconciliation and joy and that every migrant is welcome.”
The Dublin Council of Churches has unanimously urged members to join in next Sunday “as a sign of welcome to immigrants and a rejection of physical and mental barriers,” said Pastor Martin Sauter of Dublin’s Lutheran Church. The council includes 13 different Christian denominations.
Also supporting the initiative are the Irish Council of Churches, the Church of Ireland primate Archbishop Richard Clarke, both Archbishops of Dublin Diarmuid Martin and Michael Jackson, Rabbi Zalman Lent of the Irish Jewish Community, the Catholic primate of England and Wales Cardinal Vincent Nichols,former Archbishop of Canterbury/head of the worldwide Anglican Communion Archbishop Rowan Williams, and Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, US.
That the bells will ring next weekend “is not a coincidence”, Mrs McAleese has said. “The name of St Patrick is known throughout the world and is synonymous with Ireland but what is not always so well known about him is that he was an immigrant to Ireland and by any standards, despite considerable personal suffering, one of the most successful in history,” she said.
“The bells will be ringing a message of love, hope and inclusion that we hope will bring comfort to the men, women and children whose lives are blighted by the hatred and bigotry of those who would deny them their dignity and rights as human beings. The bells will ring out as a challenge to all Christians to honour the great commandment to love one another,” she said.