By Sarah Mac Donald - 04 January, 2016
"We remember in a special way during this Christmas season the plight of those Christians who have lost everything for their faith.”
In a statement on Sunday, Bishop John McAreavey, who is Chair of the Council for Justice and Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said there is something for everyone to reflect on in this message.
He expressed the hope that the Pope’s reflection would inform discussion and inspire people in 2016 to take action for “justice and peace in defence of the victims of violence, persecution and injustice throughout the world”.
“In his New Year message Pope Francis weighs up the events of 2015, a year that has seen devastating human tragedies, as well as inspiring examples of global leadership and commitment to the rights of the poor and the protection of the natural environment that supports and sustains us all,” Bishop McAreavey said.
Pope Francis, he highlighted, had drawn hope from the outpouring of generosity and solidarity towards those in need, notably the victims of violence and persecution.
“At the same time, however, he repeats his concern about the ‘globalisation of indifference’, questioning whether the ‘information explosion’ that is so readily at our disposal today is leading to greater solidarity, or rather a numbing of our sensitivity to the suffering of others.”
According to Dr McAreavey, the message reminds that we cannot afford to be complacent about the challenges to human dignity, most evident in the denial of basic rights: the right to life and the means necessary to live with dignity and participate in society.
“In the context of this year being the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis emphasises the transformative power of mercy on relationships.
He underlined that Christians are called to reflect the teaching and example of Scripture, “reaching out in love and compassion to those who are marginalised or excluded”.
“We are reminded that we are all leaders: in our family life, in our work and in the wider community.”
“As a Christian community we remember in a special way during this Christmas season the plight of those Christians who have lost everything for their faith,” he said.
The Bishop of Dromore concluded by highlighting, “We urgently need a renewed international commitment to uphold the universal human right to freedom of conscience and religion to protect not only our Christian brothers and sisters, but all persecuted minorities.”
The full message by Pope Francis for World Day of Peace 2016 is available here: http://www.catholicbishops.ie/2015/12/15/overcome-indifference-and-win-peace-pope-francis-message-for-world-day-of-prayer-for-peace-2016/