In a joint Christmas message, the Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, Bishop Paul Colton, and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Cork and Ross, Bishop Fintan Gavin, have said that the Christian faith calls on believers to be a welcoming people and to reach out to the vulnerable.
The bishops said the past year has been tough on everyone, with the Covid-19 pandemic continuing to affect all our lives.
Noting that the scriptures say that after their visit to the new-born Jesus in Bethlehem, the three wise men “went home by a different way”, the bishops said the pandemic has also forced many people today to change their ways, and to do things differently.
“There have been times during the pandemic when public health requirements restricted our public worship; we were even forced to close church doors at times,” they said.
The bishops added that it was through the creative gifts and commitment of so many people that Christians remain connected to one another as a family of faith.
They said it was important to focus on important values that should never be lost, and said the Christian faith calls on its followers to be welcoming, and to reach out to the vulnerable in society.
“This faith challenges us to be fair and just in our sharing of the world’s resources,” they said.
The bishops said that each time of crisis provides an opportunity which must be seized, adding that this is a time for unity and for shared concern for one another.
“These pandemic times bring us to the heart of the Gospel message: what we agree to do as a community is more authentic and lasting than our individual concerns.
At Christmas, they said, they prayed that through Christ, all would be united in shared goals of looking out for and caring more for one another, and of reaching out to those who have less.
They prayed that people would support those who have lost loved ones in the pandemic, and that people would be eternally grateful for the many blessings they have.
The bishops concluded their joint Christmas message with a blessing: “May the Lord of Light shine on you and on your loved ones this Christmas and in the New Year.”