McAleese praises peacemakers in Christmas greeting
The President, Mrs McAleese, has praised "the vocation of the peacemaker" in her Christmas greeting to Irish people at home and abroad.
She said that "from Bali to Belfast the year 2002 brought its own grim share of the misery that results from runaway hatred and mistrust", adding that she hoped and prayed more people would commit to being peacemakers in the home, the street, the workplace and politics next year.
She also praised the work of volunteers who "come into their own" at this time of year, serving the elderly, the homeless and the sick.
In addition, she gave thought to the many immigrants "who want to make good, new lives among us but who will also be feeling lonely and in need of a friend this Christmas".
Wishing "God's blessing on our Irish family and friends", she said: "Christmas is a time when we are reminded of the human capacity for goodness, kindness and gentleness. Bethlehem's message to the world 2,000 years ago remains as simple, powerful and relevant today as it was then. Humanity flourishes where there is love. Chaos flourishes where it is absent.
"Former US president and renowned peacemaker, Jimmy Carter, put it well recently in Oslo where he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He said: 'We will never learn how to live together in peace by killing each others' children.' Let us hope and pray that each day of 2003 will be used to build peace and friendship between nations, peoples and faiths and that more and more people will commit to the vocation of peacemaker whether in the home, the street, the schoolyard, the workplace, or in the world of regional and global politics.
"We are blessed to have so many dedicated peacemakers on this island. Their work of reconciliation, even through the most difficult of times, has laid the foundations for a future of mutual respect and partnership in place of fear and conflict. Our story brings hope to many other parts of the world still waiting for peace, still waiting for peacemakers.
"We are very proud that many members of our Irish family are to be found offering help and hope in distant lands where lives are blighted by war, poverty, natural disasters, corruption and neglect. They will spend Christmas far from home and far from comfort, doing what they can to change lives for the better.
"Here in Ireland there are many men, women and children within our immigrant communities who want to make good, new lives among us but who will also be feeling lonely and in need of a friend this Christmas. It is a time of year when our volunteers come into their own, stretching themselves and their resources to bring a bit of comfort and joy to vulnerable families, to the elderly, the homeless, the sick, the unemployed and to all our overlooked and forgotten brothers and sisters. They are surely entitled to our gratitude and encouragement for their selfless dedication.
"May each one of us both give and receive the great gift of unselfish love this Christmas and, despite the many ups and downs we face as individuals or as communities, may this be a time of deep, transcendent joy in every heart."