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Christmas messages focus on homeless crisis and direct provision

By Sarah Mac Donald - 19 December, 2017

The leader of the Church of Ireland in Dublin has expressed concern over those trapped in homelessness and direct provision in his Christmas message.

Archbishop Michael Jackson said Direct Provision, homelessness and dying on our streets are “ideas we had hoped were gone from our vocabulary and from our national life.

“They sit ill with the expectations of a modern democracy that prides itself on equality of opportunity and progress for all.”

But as we face into Christmas 2017, regrettably, this is not the case, he said.

“Behind every one of these words there is the face of a human being hoping against experience for something better, and living in fear, not so much for the new year ahead but for the here and now of today.

“It is easy in a society, where statistics are selective, for the human face of suffering and of sadness to be unseen. It is easy in a society, where economic recovery is a pressing national priority, for the fractured and the fragmented to be forgotten and remaindered.”

He stressed that efficiency must not replace love, “as if Compassion Provision and Care Provision are for the religious and for those who cannot cope in the fast lane”.

Dr Jackson highlighted that Jesus came to live on earth and “entered into vulnerability, migration, warfare and politics as the Son of God and the Son of Man.

“As St John 1.10 expresses it with clinical factualness: He was in the world; but the world, though it owed its being to him, did not recognise him. The invisibility of need and the failure of recognition are nothing new.

“Christmas asks of us that we turn the voice of joy into the work of our hands, our purses and our policies. Christmas asks of us that we turn from singing carols to raising our voices to ensure the voices of the vulnerable are heard and their needs recognised,” the Archbishop of Dublin and Glendalough urged.

In his message for Christmas, Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin recalled that he was born almost exactly six months after Christmas 65 years ago; “so my first Christmas was spent in the comfort of my mother’s womb.

“The only gift I got was the only gift I really needed, the gift of life. I was the first child for my parents, and I imagine it was both an anxious and a hope-filled time for them.”

The Bishop of Elphin urged people to put a candle or a lamp in the window this Christmas, as a sign of welcome for the Holy Family but also as a symbol of welcome for and solidarity with refugee families.

He recognised that for some who have lost family members, Christmas can be a difficult and lonely time.

“For other families too, there will be an empty place at the table, because someone is in hospital, or overseas, in prison, or out of contact for whatever reason. If that empty place at the table makes you sad, it is a sure sign that the person you love is still held close in your heart. Be sure that he or she is also held close in the heart of Jesus, who was born to give us hope,” Dr Doran said.

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