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People should remember the homeless this year and do what they can to help, the Church of Ireland and Catholic Bishops of Cork have urged in a joint Christmas message.
Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, Dr Paul Colton and Catholic Bishop of Cork and Ross, Dr John Buckley said the past year had brought an increasing awareness of the problem of homelessness in Irish society.
“As well as the plight of those who are forced to live on our streets, we think too of those who live in hostels and hotels, and those who are finding it impossible to pay the ever rising cost of rent,” the bishops said.
“Given the plight of the Holy Family on that first Christmas night and their difficulty in finding accommodation, surely our celebration of Christmas must acknowledge those who, in our own time, are in the same situation?”
They said that when it came to tackling the problem of homelessness on Leeside, the people of Cork owe an enduring debt of gratitude to those who work tirelessly and selflessly in the city for the homeless and underprivileged,
“At this time, one thinks of Share, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, Cork Simon Community and Cork Penny Dinners. There are many more who do what they can and more,” said the bishops as they urged people to assist in whatever way they can.
Bishop Colton and Bishop Buckley also noted that globally the problem of homelessness had also increased dramatically this year with more and more refugees being forced to flee their home countries because of war and political turmoil.
The mass migration from Syria, the plight of the Rohingya refugees in Myanmar, growing tensions in North Korea as well as increasing nervousness about terrorist attacks in Europe and beyond were all reminders that the world is still awaiting the peace offered by Christ at his birth.
“This Christmas may we all have the gift of peace in our own hearts, homes, families and communities, and may it also serve as a reminder that we who profess faith in Christ have an obligation to work towards and for that peace,” they said.
They said Christmas was a time for family with many travelling home from abroad and elsewhere in Ireland to celebrate Christmas with loved ones.
They expressed the hope everyone would enjoy the warmth and happiness of celebrating Christmas with loved ones.
“As Bishops of Cork, we appeal once again to all believers to keep Christ at the heart of Christmas. For the believer, the holiday is only happy because of the birth of the Saviour. Christmas literally means the feast of Christ. Let’s keep Christ in Christmas,” they said.
“This Christmas may be a time when people might reflect on and rediscover that Christmas offers us more than a commercial mid-winter festival. We wish you peace, joy, warmth and happiness for the celebration of our Saviour’s birth.
“We will remember in prayer those who have lost loved ones during the past year. We pray particularly for those who have been touched by the tragedy of suicide. May the star, which lit up the sky at the birth of Christ, shine the light of hope and peace on all those who are suffering.”