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We must not “close down in fear”: Bishop Leahy

By Sarah Mac Donald - 24 March, 2016

The instinct would, understandably, be to pull back and close in on ourselves but that would give in to those behind such attacks, who want separation, mistrust and fear.

People gather around a memorial in Brussels following bomb attacks in Brussels. Pic courtesy: https://www.rt.com/

People gather around a memorial in Brussels following bomb attacks in Brussels. Pic courtesy: https://www.rt.com/

The Bishop of Limerick has said that in the wake of the terror attacks in Brussels “warmth in the world” is needed and we must “increase our mercy”.

In his homily at the Chrism Mass in St John’s Cathedral in Limerick on Wednesday evening, Bishop Brendan Leahy appealed to people not to “close down” in fear but to “open up in a new way to people, not least those we don’t know”.

“We need to welcome them in and extend the hand of friendship.”

He admitted that the instinct right now would, understandably, be to pull back and “close in on ourselves but that would merely give in to people behind such attacks, people who merely want separation, mistrust and fear”.

“If anything now is the time to increase our mercy and show them that their deeds only bring us closer together.”

“In the Year of Mercy, and at this very dark time following what happened in Brussels, we need to apply mercy in its broadest sense,” Dr Leahy said.

He also underlined that Mercy isn’t just about forgiveness but it is about general goodness towards people.

“It’s about healing the sick, welcoming the stranger, consoling the afflicted, advising the doubtful and encouraging the despondent.”

“We need to remember Pope Francis’ wonderful words, that ‘we need mercy as without it our world grows colder’.

As we try to come to terms with what has happened in Brussels and what has happened elsewhere in Europe of late, the Bishop of Limerick said it is all the more important that we engage in corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

The Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh on Wednesday wrote to Archbishop Joezef de Kesel of Mechelen-Brussels following the terrorist attacks in Brussels.

On behalf of the Irish Episcopal Conference, the Archbishop offered his “prayerful solidarity” and deepest sympathies to the people of Belgium.

“The horrific loss of life and serious injuries caused by these senseless attacks undermines the fragile bonds upon which our peaceful coexistence as a society rests,” he stated.

He also paid tribute to the of security and healthcare personnel in offering assistance in a very difficult situation and said these days are challenging for priests and pastoral workers as they seek to minister to many people in tense and stressful circumstances.

The Primate said prayers will be offered throughout Ireland at Masses and ceremonies over the coming days and during the Easter Triduum.

He assured the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels of his personal prayers for those who have died and for those who have been injured, as well as for their families.

“I pray that the grace of the Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus will accompany the people of your nation and of our continent at this time,” he said.

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