Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bishops’ joint message of hope

The Catholic and Anglican bishops of Cork have issued a joint Christmas message, calling on the faithful to remember the season’s true meaning and to consider those forced to emigrate because of the recession.

The message from Bishop Paul Colton, Bishop of Cork, Cloyne, and Ross, and Bishop John Buckley, Bishop of Cork and Ross, also praises the Christian spirit of local charities.

The bishops state: “As in the past few years, this Christmas occurs within an enduring and cruel recession that has reduced many to poverty and forced thousands of our young people to leave their native land in search of employment, far away from all that is dear to them. At special times like this their absence is most keenly felt at home.

“Like all citizens, we applaud those who have given of their time and resources over the past years to ease the burden of the recession on the people of Cork.

“Christmas provides us with an opportunity to acknowledge and support the wonderful work that many of these agencies provide. Share, the Society of St Vincent de Paul and the Cork Penny Dinners are but a small representation of the groups that embody the compassion of Christ in our midst. The people of Cork appreciate very much their efforts to alleviate the distress of so many.”

The bishops also urge church members to be mindful of the origins of Christmas celebrations. “We must all try to remember that Christmas is, above all, a religious feast when we commemorate the love of God for us, manifested by the sending of his only Son to a stable at Bethlehem.”

They added: “Christmas cannot be reduced to a ‘Happy Holiday’ or a celebration devoid of Christ. It is unfortunate that the essentials of Christmas, the infant Jesus, the crib and Christmas worship are often set aside.”

The bishops added that Christmas was a particularly difficult time to cope with bereavement. “At Christmas the death of a loved one is particularly sad, and we feel very close to them during this season.

“Christmas is also a time to resolve family differences in preparation for a family feast. Family prayer in the home also unites families. The message of Christmas is one of love, hope, joy and peace. Christ came as child for each one of us, to lead us to God. May Christ be present to all who are suffering or alone this Christmas.”

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