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Story of first Christmas is one of a young couple looking for accommodation

By Sarah Mac Donald - 18 December, 2018

Pic Gary Knight

Both the Catholic Bishop of Meath and the Church of Ireland Primate of Ireland have made pointed criticisms of the homeless crisis in their Christmas messages.

Bishop Tom Deenihan of Meath, in his first Christmas message, highlighted how the story of the first Christmas was one of a young couple looking for accommodation.

He said that story was being retold today in the diocese of Meath and around the country.

“Recent media commentary on the testimony of those who are homeless and living in temporary accommodation, particularly that of a ‘Youtube’ posting of a young girl in Dublin, shocks us all. I pray that the year ahead will see significant progress in resolving this dreadful problem of our time.”

Bishop Deenihan also applauded those who have given their time and resources to try to ease the burden on others.

“Christmas provides us with an opportunity to acknowledge and support the wonderful work that many of these agencies provide. The Society of St Vincent de Paul and those who volunteer on our Lourdes Pilgrimage are but a very small example of those who embody the compassion of Christ in our midst. Their work is very much appreciated.”

Meanwhile, the Church of Ireland primate, Archbishop Michael Jackson, hit out at the “continuing incapacities of policymakers in Ireland to address the misery and the indignity of raw homelessness for children and adults” as well as the scandal of Direct Provision and the homeless dying on the streets.

Referring to Fr Peter McVerry’s recent talk during ‘The Walk of Light’ across Dublin’s inner city churches, Archbishop Jackson described the Jesuit as “the Christian conscience of contemporary Ireland”.

In that address Fr McVerry related how one homeless young person had said to him, “Peter, the thing about homelessness is that nobody cares.” The young person subsequently took his own life.

“Journeying to no purpose, journeying with no outcome, journeying with no trusted companionship all too often fill the waking hours of those rejected and stigmatized today whether by rural or by urban poverty and alienation,” Dr Jackson said.

He added, “More and more people in today’s Ireland didn’t expect that by seeking asylum they would end up in Direct Provision; that by falling behind in mortgage payments or lapsing into rent arrears they would end up in emergency accommodation; that by going on to the streets to live they might indeed die on the streets. For more and more people, the gradient annually becomes harder to climb and the sense of purpose fades.”

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