The growth in the persecution of Christians and others worldwide is a focus of the joint Christmas message from both Primates of All-Ireland.
Catholic primate, Archbishop Eamon Martin, and Church of Ireland primate, Archbishop Richard Clarke, said: "It is a sad reflection on our world that many people have been forced violently to flee to safety because of their religion, ethnicity or cultural identity. The plight of Christians in Iraq, Syria and the whole Middle East comes especially to mind at this Christmas time.
“This year in many parts of our world people have been living in the grip of fear.”
There is fear and need in Ireland too, they said. “The plight of the homeless on our streets has been much in our minds in recent weeks. We urge all people of goodwill to work together so the needs of children and the most vulnerable are protected.”
In his message, Presbyterian Moderator Rev Dr Michael Barry has called on people to show hospitality and welcome strangers this Christmas. Many people who come here "come in the hope of finding peace and security, but sadly some find that they are not welcomed but are rejected", he said.
The Bishops of Derry said: “The harsh realities of life for many in today’s world raise big questions about the meaning and purpose of it all.”
Catholic bishop Donal McKeown and Church of Ireland bishop Ken Good described this as "a world in which too many have to contend with poverty, with homelessness and loneliness; where many live with dangerous political uncertainty and where, for large numbers, refugee status far from home is their lot".