Bishops have expressed concern about the rising number of incidents of racism, xenophobia, and religious intolerance in Ireland.

The bishops said, “Ireland has a long tradition of emigration.  For generations, women and men have left our shores in search of work and better living conditions with many making an enormous contribution to their host countries while others returned home to enrich our society and economy with their experience.

“Today, unlike the past, migrants from other countries live and work side-by-side with Irish people.  These are our neighbours and part of our community, whose children go to the local school and develop friendships and play together.  Migrants have their own culture, language and religious affiliation while bringing many gifts which are, as Pope John Paul II said, offered to a society which in a sense has less right to them than their own country of origin (cf. Laborem Exercens, 23).

“Some of those who come to Ireland have escaped from very dangerous situations, including religious persecution.  On top of the trauma of losing their homes, their jobs and often their families, they now face the challenge of being strangers here, of starting again without a network, where language, the education system, customs and culture are quite different.”

In their statement released at the conclusion of their three day Summer General Meeting in Maynooth, the bishops said, “We wish to express our concern about the rising number of incidents of racism, xenophobia, and religious intolerance in Ireland – carried out sometimes by those who consider themselves faithful Christians – and which can occur anonymously or otherwise on social media, in quiet conversations, by open verbal onslaughts or through physical violence.

“We have noted the recent reports of both the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance as it applies to Ireland, and the Good Relations Indicators annual update in Northern Ireland which, along with feedback from people in our own parishes and dioceses, give us cause for pastoral concern in this regard.

“Human dignity does not, however, depend on the colour of a person’s skin, their nationality, accent, or their religious affiliation.  Every person is created in the image of God and called into a relationship with Him.”

The bishops went on to appeal for respect for every human person without exception and a complete avoidance of the use of offensive language. They said, “To prevent bigotry, religious intolerance and racism, we encourage the building of relationships at local level so that everyone can feel welcome wherever we gather.  We especially ask parents, teachers, young people, youth leaders, priests and religious, journalists, politicians, employers and sports coaches to actively reject racism, intolerance and sectarianism.”

“We join in the widespread criticism of others of the undignified living conditions and treatment of those living in direct provision centres.  As Christians, we are called to follow the example of Jesus as set out in His parable of The Good Samaritan.”

You can read their Summer General Meeting statement in full on www.catholicbishops.ie.

ENDS