Pope applauds love of one's country

Pope John Paul has said that love for one's country is a value to be fostered

Pope John Paul has said that love for one's country is a value to be fostered. In his New Year message he said "the need to accept one's own culture as a structuring element of one's personality, especially in the initial stages of life, is a fact of universal experience whose importance can hardly be overestimated". But he warned that such patriotism should be "without narrow-mindedness". It should be felt in the context of love for the whole human family and "avoid those pathological manifestations which occur when the sense of belonging turns into self-exaltation, the rejection of diversity, and forms of nationalism, racism and xenophobia".

Calling for dialogue between cultures and traditions, he said that "at the dawn of a new millennium there is growing hope that relationships between people will be increasingly inspired by the ideal of a truly universal brotherhood".

In his New Year message, the Catholic Primate, Archbishop Sean Brady, said the past year in the North had been one of "slow, but steady progress, on the journey towards peace".

Commenting on the asylum-seekers issue, he said that while governments had a right and duty to control the influx of immigrants, "at the same time they have to show the respect and welcome due to every human being".


The Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Robin Eames, said that in the North "we have come a very long way, despite the temptation to cling to or turn back into old familiar but failed paths of the past". The price of peace had been "immense" he said. "Acceptance of those we disagree with calls for the questioning of attitudes which were a protection of what we believed essential to our individual tradition." But when people in the North felt daunted by the problems facing the community he asked them to remember two things, "how far we have come in a relatively short time and the inherent decency of the vast majority of people in both our main traditions". The president of the Methodist Church, the Rev Ken Todd, said he firmly believed that in Ireland the time was coming "when we will all say `sorry' together". Peace and trust went together and "before you can trust, offending parties need to say sorry," he said. Welcoming the Pope's message, the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, exhorted all "to strive for a society where each of us is treated on his or her own merits and not on the basis of prejudice or stereotype".

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times