IN a joint Christmas message, the Bishops of Clogher joined together in prayer-filled reflection to mark the festive season.
During the past year, the Rev Larry Duffy, Roman Catholic Bishop of Clogher, and Rev Dr Ian Ellis, Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher, said after witnessing the invasion of Ukraine and the outbreak of war on the continent of Europe for the first time in almost eighty years, gave them pause for thought.
“Many have been forced to flee their homes and become refugees – becoming exiles in a continent that prides itself as a beacon of dignity, freedom, justice and the democratic way of life,” their joint Christmas message read.
“Those people- mostly women and children – forced to leave Ukraine are not alone; many others across our world have had to flee persecution, often on account of their religious beliefs.
“In more recent days, we have seen on our TV screens the harrowing images of people fleeing across the English Channel, some of them sadly losing their lives. Indeed, recent UN figures show that 2 billion people across the world – one in four of our global population – live in conflict.
“Conflicts often bring other situations into focus, such as economic and financial pressures or social issues like homelessness and housing insecurity. All these place challenges and choices before us in terms of how we respond.
“Thankfully, people all across Europe have responded generously during this past year, including here in our Diocese of Clogher. Many thousands of people from Ukraine and other places of conflict and persecution have been welcomed to this island and how families and communities have embraced them is exemplary.”
Both dignitaries believed that those same communities are also helping and supporting many families and individuals to cope with the energy and financial crisis here through a variety of charitable organisations and bodies, nationally and locally.
“By doing all this, they proclaim through actions the love of God – walking with people in all kinds of situations; giving hope to us all in times of darkness and fear,” their Christmas message continued.
“The God who comes to us each year at Christmas identifies with refugees and those facing economic hardship or the effects of war, wherever they are. His presence in our midst not only renews us and gives us hope, but challenges each of us, again and again, to witness to that presence in all people and to bring his life-giving hope to them, especially in times of conflict.
“God walks with us all year round. May we be open to walking with him in welcoming the stranger, helping those in need wherever they may be; and may we all pray and work for peace, reconciliation, and justice in our broken world.”
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