The Spring 2017 General Meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference concluded this afternoon in Columba Centre, Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth. During their meeting bishops expressed their support for the “Joy of Bells” initiative by Maria Jansson, the Church of Ireland Dean of Waterford Cathedral, and former President of Ireland Mary McAleese.
The “Joy of Bells” initiative is about expressing solidarity and respect for migrants and refugees, and bishops have encouraged parishes to ring church bells on Sunday 19 March (at 11.00am if possible) so that, in ringing, they proclaim our Christian witness and proclamation of faith, trust, love, reconciliation and joy and that every migrant is welcome!
Pope Francis addressed the issue of welcoming migrants in his 2017 message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Pope Francis said,
“I ask everyone to help those who, for various reasons, are forced to live far from their homeland and are separated from their families … Migration affects all continents and is growing into a tragic situation of global proportions. Not only does this concern those looking for dignified work or better living conditions, but also men and women, the elderly and children, who are forced to leave their homes in the hope of finding safety, peace and security.”
Pope Francis invites us to respond to migration by offering a dignified welcome and by acknowledging that every person is precious; that persons are more important than things and that our worth is measured by the way we treat the life and dignity of human beings, particularly when they are vulnerable like migrants. Bishops urged that the long delays for asylum seekers living in our direct provision system be addressed as it militates against social integration and cohesion. Bishops asked parishes to continue to extend Christian hospitality to migrants and refugees who have settled here in recent times.