Racism has no place in Ireland – Bishop Leahy

Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy has said racism and intolerance should have no place in Irish society.

In his homily at the Our Lady Help of Christians church in Milford, Limerick to celebrate the centenary of Salesians in Ireland, Bishop Leahy said that the Salesians were people of joy and open to welcoming others and that everyone in society today needs to live that example.

“In a rapidly changing Ireland, we all have to work together to respect everyone and that means a complete avoidance of the use of offence language. It means building of relationships at local level so that everyone can feel welcome wherever we gather. Racism, intolerance and sectarianism should have no place in Ireland today,” he said.

Recalling a story told by Salesian founder St. John Bosco about the necessity for kindness, Bishop Leahy said: “To be kind and gentle. To be compassionate and patient. It’s good for us to hear that message again and again. We need to hear this message today in Ireland especially when racial abuse occurs.

“At their June meeting, the Bishops of Ireland expressed concern about the rising number of incidents of racism and xenophobia carried out on social media, in quiet conversations or by open verbal onslaughts and sometimes by those who consider themselves faithful Christians.

“As the Bishops stated in their statement following their meeting, we’ve always to remember that some of those who come to Ireland have escaped from very dangerous situations, including religious persecution.  On top of the trauma of losing their homes, their jobs and often their families, they now face the challenge of being strangers here, of starting again without a network, where language, the education system, customs and culture are quite different. How many Irish emigrants experienced that in various parts of the world?

“Now we welcome others coming to our shores. How we speak of them is important. To denigrate others is cheap. To build them up is noble. To be loose with our tongue is like spreading a fire. And that is never good,” he said.