“For the poorest in our society, this is an emergency, not a crisis. We call on everyone, from public representatives to parishioners in our parishes, to come together in a spirit of solidarity and active concern for those who are in need among us at this time.”
This call – on the feast day of St Vincent de Paul – comes especially to the Northern Irish dioceses of Derry, Down and Connor, Armagh, Dromore and Clogher – from Archbishop Eamon Martin and Bishops Noel Treanor, Donal McKeown, Larry Duffy and Michael Router.
It follows a stunning rise in the basic cost of staying alive – in the aftermath of war in Ukraine from April 2022 and the impact of this upon the cost of heating and electricity – and the inevitable knock-on impact on the cost of all basic necessities, on the brink of winter. An added complication is the political log-jam in Northern Ireland caused by differences over the UK-EU relationship and the uncertain handling of the UK economy by an inexperienced UK government.
“Despite political differences about the Protocol and a future border poll, the most urgent duty on our local MLAs, of all parties, is to prioritise concrete actions that will address the life-or-death situation many people and businesses face now, and in the months ahead.”…
“Of particular concern, is the fact that in Northern Ireland, one in four children are living in poverty – one of the highest levels of child poverty of any population in Europe. This is despite the fact that a Child Poverty Strategy has been promised for years now – most recently in the New Decade New Approach agreement – but has not yet been delivered, 25 years on since the Good Friday Agreement.”…
“Food banks, Saint Vincent de Paul Conferences and other charitable outreaches urgently need new volunteers and more resources due to the unprecedented demand which is likely to get worse as winter approaches. Parish Pastoral Councils might consider extending their existing parish hall activities or providing warm spaces, hot meals, fuel vouchers or other helpful initiatives in response to this urgent situation.”
‘An Economy of Peace’
To conclude, we encourage our Parish communities to reflect prayerfully on the “pact” signed in Assisi on Saturday last by Pope Francis together with young people from all over the world:
We, young economists, entrepreneurs, and changemakers, called here to Assisi from every part of the world, aware of the responsibility that rests on our generation, commit ourselves today, individually and all collectively to spending our lives so that the economy of today and tomorrow becomes an economy of the Gospel, and therefore:
- an economy of peace and not of war;
- an economy that opposes the proliferation of arms, especially the most destructive;
- an economy that cares for creation and does not misuse it;
- an economy at the service of the human person, the family and life, respectful of every woman, man, and child, the elderly, and especially those most frail and vulnerable;
- an economy where care replaces rejection and indifference;
- an economy that leaves no one behind, in order to build a society in which the stones rejected by the dominant mentality become cornerstones;
- an economy that recognizes and protects secure and dignified work for everyone;
- an economy where finance is a friend and ally of the real economy and of labour and not against them;
- an economy that values and safeguards the cultures and traditions of peoples, all living things and the natural resources of the Earth;
- an economy that fights poverty in all its forms, reduces inequality and knows how to say with Jesus and St Francis, “Blessed are the poor;”
- an economy guided by an ethics of the human person and open to transcendence;
- an economy that creates wealth for all, that engenders joy and not just riches, because happiness that is not shared is incomplete.
To read the complete statement from the northern bishops, click here.