By Sarah Mac Donald - 14 January, 2016
"Remember you too were treated harshly abroad, building London’s underground, the mines of Yorkshire, in the docks of Boston or in the new cities of Sydney and Perth."
The Bishop of Cork and Ross has reminded Irish people of the tough times they had as emigrants ahead of World Day of Migrants and Refugees on Sunday.
In a statement, Bishop John Buckley said some people will be coming to Ireland hoping it will be a place where they are safe and can begin the process of rebuilding their lives.
“It is important that the local church be at the forefront of efforts to welcome them,” the bishop emphasised.
In his message, Bishop Buckley referred to scripture reminding the faithful that one of the key phrases of Chapter 5 of Matthew’s Gospel is Jesus’ statement: ‘I was a stranger and you took me in’.
He said that in the Bible we are repeatedly told to welcome the stranger as in Chapter 24 of Deuteronomy which states, ‘You shall love the stranger for you are strangers in Egypt’.
“We Irish have much to learn from this,” he said and added, “The Lord could well say to us: ‘Remember you too were treated harshly abroad, building London’s underground, the mines of Yorkshire, in the docks of Boston or in the new cities of Sydney and Perth’.”
Dr Buckley also highlighted that “St Patrick was a refugee, a slave, someone who was trafficked for profit” and that Pope Francis has said that the city, the town, the village that does not welcome the stranger has forgotten to care for itself.
He underlined that immigration is a phenomenon which is here to stay for the foreseeable future linked to the fact that today millions are displaced by war, hunger and oppression.
He said that in Cork various ethnic groups have enriched the city with their talents and heritage.
“Indeed much of our local economy is highly dependent on the contribution of immigrants” and he also paid tribute to the “great work of Religious Congregations and others including NASC and Cois Tine”.
World Day of Migrants and Refugees is an occasion to heighten the awareness of the current phenomenon of immigration and the challenges facing migrants coming to our country, the leader of the Churchin Cork & Rossa said.
Though he also pledged respect for the rights of the State to devise procedures to address the situation.
Sunday “is an occasion also to pray for all who are experiencing great suffering, remembering especially, the persecuted Christians of the Middle East and Africa,” he said.