Bishops warn against culture of despair and blame


THE IRISH Catholic bishops yesterday urged people not to react to the economic situation with defeatism and a preoccupation with blame alone.

Recent economic events “have given rise to exceptional levels of fear, anger and disillusionment,” the Irish Bishops’ Conference said in a statement following their winter meeting in Maynooth.

The outward appearance of wealth and comfort masks “exceptional levels of anxiety and material need,” the statement entitled “In helping each other, there is hope” said. “Faced with these challenges it would be easy to descend into a culture of negativity, defeatism and despair.”

However the bishops urged people against negativity and blame. “While important questions have to be asked about how this situation has arisen, a preoccupation with blame and recrimination alone would be futile and distract from the urgent task of building a more just, sustainable and prosperous future,” the statement said.

The bishops urged the pain of the economic situation to be shared justly with a “special concern for the most vulnerable and least well off”.

They prayed for a “spirit of national solidarity and hope” and a “renewal of confidence in our ability to work together for the good of all” to address adverse circumstances.

They appealed for a “new mobilisation of good neighbourliness” and care for others in local communities and for people giving time, talents and money to tackle poverty and social exclusion.

They particularly urged people to care for older persons by spending time with them and ensure they are safe, warm and have enough food and necessities.

The strongest reason for hope was the extraordinary generosity and social concern of the Irish people, the statement said.

Knowing someone cares or will is willing to listen can mean as much to a person with financial problems as material help, the bishops said.

They expressed belief in the ability of the nation to address challenges and said that Irish people have shown resilience in the past.

There was an opportunity to build an economy “in which profit and growth are at the service of people, an economy which brings benefit to all our citizens, especially the children of our nation, the elderly and the most vulnerable,” they said.

They also had an appeal to the political community and all citizens “to rally the human, social, intellectual and spiritual resources of our country in a united effort to build our financial economy and ensure it achieves its human and social ends.”

They highlighted Ireland’s continued responsibility to provide assistance to others in international development aid.