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Racism is an Irish problem, say Irish bishops in wake of Black Lives Matter protests

By Cian Molloy - 13 June, 2020

We in Ireland need to examine our own consciences in relation to racist attitudes and racist behaviour, say Ireland’s bishops in a statement following their Summer General Meeting.

The logo used by Black Lives Matter activists

This year, for the first time, because of the need for social distancing as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the bishops did not meet as usual at the national seminary, St Patrick’s College in Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Instead, they met by video conference.

In the weekend before their meeting, Black Lives Matter demonstrations were held all over the world and naturally the bishops reflected on the matter, concluding that “the evil of racism is not simply an American phenomenon”.

“Racism can take many forms, covert and overt, and we in Ireland need to examine our own consciences,” the bishops said in a joint statement.

“Irish society, including our Church communities, benefits from the gifts of many people of different racial origins who contribute to our life and to the quality of life in manifold ways. At the same time, many people of colour, including Irish citizens, report experiences of racist rejection and discrimination.”

According to the church leaders, racist attitudes are learned early in life, which means that parents and teachers have an important role in promoting the Christian messages of human equality and human dignity.

“Racist attitudes can and must be countered in homes and in school communities where the fundamental dignity of every person is celebrated,” the bishops say.

“Saint Paul affirmed that there is no place among Christians for racist ideas of any kind: ‘There is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’

“In post-COVID19 times a key priority and option for the Christian must be the promotion and defence of the equal dignity of each human person as a child of God and member of the one human family.”

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