Irish Bishops Send St. Paddy's Day Greetings

Affirm Concern for Emigrants; Recall Patrick Was a Migrant

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MAYNOOTH, Ireland, MARCH 16, 2011 ( St. Patrick’s struggles are being echoed by many Irish today struggling to live and integrate in new cultures, according to the bishops of the nation.

A statement today from the Irish bishops called to mind that Patrick was a migrant, as the prelates wished «everyone a joyful and peaceful St. Patrick’s Day.»

«Our national saint was a pioneer in an inhospitable climate,» the statement affirmed. «In 2011, we are in the midst of an economic recession which has resulted in unemployment and emigration for many individuals and families in Ireland.

«The plight of Patrick, himself a migrant, has been faced by many Irish people who have struggled to live and integrate into new cultures. Let us remain in our prayers those who are suffering at this time.»

Living abroad

The chair of the Irish Bishops’ Conference’s Council for Emigrants, Bishop Séamus Hegarty of Derry, offered a statement reflecting on the particular struggles of Irish emigrants.

«For every emigrant abroad there are parents, siblings, friends and their local communities, who miss them greatly,» the bishop said. «The hemorrhage of so many of our young people and many others who have emigrated in their thousands to Australia, Canada, Britain and many to the United States, is an immeasurable deficit in family, community and national resources.»

Bishop Hegarty thus affirmed his hopes that the government will be able to «create and renew the economy and thereby generate employment in the hope of repatriating some of our people who reluctantly had to emigrate.»

He cited the Vatican’s 2004 document «Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi» to lament how globalization has «flung markets wide open but not frontiers, has demolished boundaries for the free circulation of information and capital, but not to the same extent for the free circulation of people.»

The prelate thanked Irish emigrant chaplaincies in Britain, the United States and Australia.

«The hospitality of the Gospel is directed at those who are vulnerable and are in need,» the bishop continued. «Therefore, we must never lose sight of, or forget, those emigrants whose journey has been a difficult one.»

In that regard, he mentioned elderly members of the Irish community, prisoners overseas, and some 50,000 undocumented Irish in the United States.

Citing «Deus Caritas Est,» Bishop Hegarty expressed his hope that «our vulnerable emigrants tangibly benefit from the invitation of Pope Benedict XVI to all God’s people to: ‘love to the full without making any kind of distinction and without discrimination, in the conviction that any one who needs us and whom we can help is our neighbor.'»

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