Limerick Bishop warns against mindset of ‘distrust and disdain’ towards migrants

Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy. Photo: Keith Wiseman.

THERE is a real risk of the “mindset of distrust and disdain” of migrants taking hold in Ireland, the Bishop of Limerick has warned.

In a letter sent to parishes across the dioceses to mark Pentecost Sunday, itself a celebration of “unity in diversity”, Bishop Brendan Leahy said that while many communities across Limerick and Ireland face challenges “we need be careful about how we see, judge, and act regarding migrants”.

“I recognise there are challenges. Local communities must be given the resources and infrastructures to ensure refugees and asylum seekers are welcomed and supported. Issues around asylum seekers and direct provision need urgent attention,” Bishop Leahy wrote.

Bishop Leahy said that there “is a temptation to blame the rise in migrants, and so to end up blaming migrants and asylum seekers themselves, for a series of woes that are besetting us, such as issues to do with hospital care, the question of homelessness and the cost of housing”.

“With growing tensions and riots, rumblings of discontent and marches, as well as social media campaigns, a mindset regarding migrants can take hold resulting in distance from, distrust of and disdain for migrants,” Bishop Leahy’s letter said.

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However, the Limerick Bishop said that views such as this fly in the face of Christian values, and called for candidates in the upcoming local, European, and mayoral elections to act responsibly when it comes to discourse around migrants and asylum seekers.

“I would urge all candidates to act responsibly and with sensibility and sensitivity to the plight of people coming to our shores as they seek election,” Bishop Leahy said.

“To do otherwise would not be in accord with our Christian values. We need to help each other resist a negative spirit regarding migrants in our conversations, our planning and our outlook. In this way, we will also avoid conflict situations that could become dangerous.

“Pope Francis, himself a model of a welcoming heart towards migrants and refugees, indicates to us that our calling as followers of Christ is to welcome and protect, promote and integrate refugees. We believe in unity in diversity,” the Bishop’s letter concluded.