Bishops criticise use of ‘intolerant language’ in political discourse

Conference called on Catholics to ‘welcome and assist refugees in their local areas’

Bishops also expressed concern about Ireland’s homelessness crisis, saying they hope for the possibility of ‘an alternative ordering of society’. Photograph: iStock

Bishops also expressed concern about Ireland’s homelessness crisis, saying they hope for the possibility of ‘an alternative ordering of society’. Photograph: iStock

 

Ireland’s Catholic bishops have criticised the use of “intolerant language in public and political discourse” and urged parishes and communities to be more welcoming of refugees and migrants.

In a statement following their winter general meeting in Maynooth, Co Kildare on Wednesday, the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference called on Catholics to “welcome and assist refugees in their local areas in light of the Gospel message”.

They expressed concern about the use of “intolerant language in public and political discourse” as well as hostility towards migrants and refugees coming to Ireland. They said Catholic communities have a “responsibility to welcome with open arms those who arrive here fleeing from war, persecution, starvation, and other forms of destitution”.

“Any form of xenophobia is opposed to Christianity. Ultimately, racism will not be eradicated without changing peoples’ hearts and forming new attitudes,” they said.

The bishops commended the Community Sponsorship Programme, overseen by the Department of Justice and Equality, which seeks to assist with the accommodation and integration of refugees. The bishops’ council for justice and peace is to hold an information session for parishes and communities wishing to become involved in this programme in the spring.

‘Lack of solidarity’

The call by Bishops for greater supports for refugees in Ireland came after Bishop of Ferns Denis Brennan updated his colleagues on his visit to the international meeting on the pastoral care of migrants, which took place last week in Athens, Greece.

The meeting in Athens involved delegates from 25 countries and Bishop Brennan Europe was criticised at its for its “lack of solidarity, leaving the countries of the Mediterranean basin to bear the brunt of the demands of the refugee crisis”.

A report earlier this year found that Ireland had taken in 2,500 refugees in the last four years. Ireland had pledged to accept 4,000 refugees through EU resettlement and relocation programmes.

Bishops also expressed concern about Ireland’s homelessness crisis, saying they hope for the possibility of “an alternative ordering of society where all have the right to secure a home life,” and acknowledging that “fear of losing home, or actually losing it, is devastating to the individual and for societal well-being.”