By Cian Molloy - 10 March, 2017
The Irish bishops’ communiqué following their spring meeting has a strong focus on the growing hunger crisis in the developing world and on the plight of refugees and immigrants.
After thanking Ireland’s pupils, schools and families for their continuing support for the Trócaire Lenten campaign, the bishops expressed deep concern for those across the world facing growing levels of hunger, particularly in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.
“Food stocks have been exhausted and famine has already been declared in parts of South Sudan, while a state of national disaster has been declared in Somalia and this has been compounded by drought and conflict,” the bishops said. “In a world of plenty, people are dying because they do not have enough food to eat. It is unacceptable that, in the 21st century, starvation remains a reality for so many on the planet, with women and children being the most vulnerable.”
The bishops encouraged all people of goodwill to support Trócaire’s 2017 Lenten campaign, which this year is on the theme ‘Humanitarian need across the world’. This can be done by requesting a Trócaire box from your local parish or by donating online at https://www.trocaire.org/getinvolved/lent.
At their meeting at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, the bishops prayed through the intercession of our national patron for the faith and well-being of Irish people everywhere. They said: “The plight of Patrick, himself a migrant, has been faced by many Irish people who have struggled to live and integrate into new cultures. Patrick was called to serve and bring God to a people far from his homeland and became a pioneer in an inhospitable climate. As Saint Patrick’s Day is a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics in Ireland, the best way to remember our saint is to attend Mass.”
Another event in March that the bishops commented upon is the ‘Joy of Bells’ initiative in support of migrants and refugees, which is being promoted by the Church of Ireland Dean of Waterford Cathedral Maria Jansson and the former President of Ireland Mary McAleese. They said: “We are encouraging parishes to ring their church bells on Sunday March 19, at 11 am if possible, to proclaim our Christian witness and to make a proclamation of faith, trust, love, reconciliation and joy that every migrant is welcome.”
The bishops also invited the faithful to pray for Pope Francis’s intention for March ‘that persecuted Christians may be supported by the prayers and material help of the whole Church’.
Additionally, they called on people to be generous in supporting the Good Friday collection on 14 April, which is in aid of the people and places of the Holy Land. They especially encouraged any Irish pilgrim visiting the Holy Land to join with the local Christian communities in celebrating Sunday Mass in Jerusalem in the West Bank.