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“Alcohol is our national wound” Limerick bishop warns

By Sarah Mac Donald - 18 March, 2014

Bishop Brendan Leahy (pic courtesy Robert Samson)

Bishop Brendan Leahy (pic courtesy Robert Samson)

“Alcohol is our national wound” and Irish society must work collaboratively to find a way to heal that wound, the Bishop of Limerick has said.

Speaking to CatholicIreland.net, Bishop Brendan Leahy said the abuse of alcohol ripples throughout society and through many families.

“We all know only too well that many families’ lives are devastated by the abuse of alcohol. We all see the effects of it.”

He added that for Irish society, the abuse of alcohol is “a deep wound” which is “obviously linked not only to the issue of alcohol but also to issues in our own lives and in our own psyches and in our collective psyche.”

We really have to talk about it together, the Bishop urged.  

He said he wanted to try and avoid the extreme of being a killjoy who said no to any alcohol on the one hand. People, he said, must find a way of living with alcohol which is healthy.

Bishop Leahy praised the ‘Limerick Unlocked’ alcohol-free festival which took place at the city’s milk market at the weekend as an initiative that ought to be encouraged because of its family-friendly attitude and willingness to rule alcohol out.

He also praised the Government’s efforts to promote programmes which have a healthy attitude to alcohol and warned, “It is like everything else, we can’t just expect the Government to do everything – it takes civic commitment from all of us at all levels.”

“The Government can do its part and must do its part, but we certainly have to correspond at whatever level we find ourselves.”

The Bishop of Limerick also paid tribute to the City of Culture celebrations in the city and said the Church had set up a committee last summer to co-ordinate its contribution to the event, under the direction of the retired Bishop of Limerick, Donal Murray.

He said there were numerous events taking place as part of this including a series of organ recitals and a new mass, which was commissioned from Benedictine monk, Fr Columba McCann, and which will be premiered at Easter when RTE broadcasts its religious services from St John’s Cathedral.

Now nearly a year in office, Bishop Leahy told CatholicIreland.net, “The church is still very close to people in limerick and that has impressed me.”

“Local priests on the ground are very much in contact with people – day to day they are plugging away and having a good impact on people.”

He said the Church could play a role in the building up of community relations across communities in the city in the long term.

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