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CofI archbishop concerned over plight of refugees

By Sarah Mac Donald - 14 October, 2015

“The common good seems to have gone off our national and ecclesiastical radar over the last half-decade" Archbishop Jackson warns.

Archbishop Michael JacksonThe Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin and Glendalough has expressed concern for the plight of those affected by the homeless crisis, those in direct provision, and refugees fleeing the conflicts around the world.

In his presidential address at the diocesan synod at Taney parish Dundrum, Archbishop Michael Jackson concluded with a call to the Church of Ireland to connect to “caritative altruism” – which is the invitation to think of others when making decisions for ourselves.

He told the assembled delegates that there are boats capsizing daily in the Mediterranean Sea full of men, women and children and “more and more of them are not surviving”.

“The common good seems to have gone off our national and ecclesiastical radar over the last half-decade as we have struggled to claw back the irresponsibilities of a casino-style approach to money; and money, after all, is part of creation and not to be misused or abused,” he said.

The Archbishop added that it takes a very short time for habits shaped in crisis to become tradition. “It takes a very short time for parsimonies once essential to become unalterable policies. And the poor always become poorer.”

“We in the Church of Ireland need now to connect afresh with the big canvas of what I have long called: caritative altruism.”

He explained that this is the invitation to think of others as decisions are made and to put the care of them to the forefront of decision-making.

He added that caritative altruism is equally urgent in the world of today.

Referring to the on-going housing crisis, the Archbishop said there was already a crisis over the system of direct provision.

“We have a new crisis for a fresh and different group of people for whom there is no housing and no dignity and no future. And we call them: immigrants, as if they have any option but to flee their own country.”

“People have said to me: Charity begins at home … and my only response can be: We never know how far it will take us and, in any case, Ireland will be the only home that these particular refugees can possibly call home.”

The synod began on Tuesday with a celebration of Holy Communion in Christ Church, Taney.

After the service the synod business got underway in the adjoining parish centre and heard reports from diocesan councils and the diocesan board of education.

In his presidential address, Archbishop Jackson highlighted the growing partnership between Dublin & Glendalough and Jerusalem.

The ‘Prepare a Place’ project began in Advent 2014 and the people of the united dioceses generously supported the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City.

“I should like to thank members of the United Dioceses on what would seem to be a first strictly united diocesan missionary initiative for a very long time. I should like to thank you for a generosity of giving from the heart that amounts to well into six figures. Already the Diocesan Councils have unanimously endorsed the next stage; that is a formal partnership through Us with the Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East,” the Archbishop said.

Dr Jackson described the initiative as an opportunity of a lifetime for the dioceses to connect in friendship with people who are Anglican, Christian and human beings, like us but in “excruciatingly difficult circumstances”.

“It also connects us to the theatre of war from which people are fleeing as refugees. Primarily it connects us to the roots of our faith and belief in God,” he said.

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