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Cast out fear with Gospel love, says Bishop of Limerick

By Susan Gately - 09 June, 2017

Bishop Brendan Leahy speaks to Muslim leader, Dr Mohammed Ali Shomali in Liverpool in 2015.

The threat of terrorism has generated fear everywhere and there is no easy solution to combat it, the Bishop of Limerick has said.

Speaking to CatholicIreland.net days after it was discovered that the PPS number of one of the London terrorists Rachid Redouane had been purchased on the black market by a Moroccan man in Limerick, Bishop Leahy said Christians needed to “cast out fear by the power of the kind of love that the Gospel teaches – Don’t wait to be loved; Be the first to love. Let our love be universal – seeing each person as a brother or sister, a child of the one God who is Father of all.”

He recalled hearing a true story from Colombia where a young man at a bus stop averted a terrorist attack by persuading a bomber to change his mind. The two young men met at a bus stop and began a conversation. One said he believed that violence was the only way to resolve the world’s problems.

“The second man spoke of his world vision – that of unity, fraternity, peace.” Eventually the bus came and the second man got on the bus. Later he discovered from the police that the man he had been speaking to had telephoned them, telling them he had planted a bomb on a bus. The would-be terrorist asked the police “to let the young person know his ideals are what really change the world,” recounted Bishop Leahy.

So we need to keep reminding each other of high ideals and have the courage to speak of them and promote them, he said.

The Bishop of Limerick also pointed to the power of prayer. “I know of people who pause at midday every day for a moment of silence (and for those of faith, a moment of prayer) for peace. It’s an initiative that could be promoted in schools and workplaces. A worldwide network of prayer for peace will bear fruit.”

He urged young people to “build a culture of welcome” for people who were different to them. “We need to get to know them better,” he said.

Earlier this week, as over 120,000 students began sitting their state exams, Bishop Leahy said the need for young people with strong ideals to help “fix this broken world has never been greater”.

Extending his best wishes and prayers to the students, he advised them to focus now on “expressing themselves and their knowledge across their respective subjects”, but also to put these exams into perspective.

“I would hope that they would look at the bigger picture and not get overly focused on successes or failures.”

Given the horror of what was visited on innocent people in London and Manchester and the daily loss of precious life in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a need for students to get much more from their studies than just points, he said.

“The world, as Pope Francis has said, is broken, and violence is not the way to fix it. We need people with good, strong ideals who can fix it. We need young people emerging with ideals of peace, justice, fraternity, truth, respect. We need enlightened young people who will make a contribution to society.”

There will be 1,408 students sitting Religious Education papers in the Leaving Cert. It is the final paper in the 2017 exams, with students sitting it on Friday afternoon, 23 June.

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