The Irish Bishops’ Conference concludes its Summer General Meeting with a statement appealing for peace in Myanmar, the Middle East, and Northern Ireland, and urging the faithful in the country to avail themselves of the COVID-19 vaccination programme.
By Vatican News staff reporter
The Bishops of Ireland on Wednesday concluded their Summer 2021 General Meeting with an appeal for peace in Myanmar, the Middle East, and Northern Ireland.
During the meeting, which was held via video-link due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, the bishops expressed their deep concern about the “ongoing repression and brutality inflicted on civilians in Myanmar.”
They noted that since February, people in Myanmar have peacefully called for democracy in their country while being “brutally suppressed by the military.”
The bishops called for an “end to oppression and violence, and for respect for the voices of the people of Myanmar,” stating that “peace and dialogue must prevail.”
Addressing the humanitarian crisis that exists due to violence between Israel and Palestine, the Irish Bishops offered prayers for peace in the Holy Land.
During their meeting, they called for “an end to violence on all sides and for a just and lasting peace between the two States, based on respect for international humanitarian and human rights law, accountability for war crimes, an end to the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories and for an end to the blockade of Gaza.”
The bishops commended the unanimous passing of the motion in the Irish Parliament that condemned Israel’s “de facto annexation” of Palestinian territory as a violation of the fundamental principles of international law.
They also called on the Government of Ireland “to progress the Occupied Territories Bill to recognise the State of Palestine.”
Turning their attention closer to home, the Irish Bishops voiced their concern about rising tensions in Northern Ireland and noted that the stresses in political Unionism, as well as the continued public policy and economic reaction to Brexit and to the Northern Ireland Protocol, are having a very significant impact on the social cohesion of the whole island community.
The bishops called on political and civic leaders to avoid harsh words and to act instead “through dialogue to provide ways to offer everyone hope for the future.” They also said that alongside other Church representatives, they will “continue to work for the common good and facilitate dealing with outstanding legacy issues.”
Other key issues discussed at the Summer General Meeting included the COVID-19 pandemic and the rollout of the progamme of vaccination.
The Irish Bishops encouraged the faithful to get vaccinated in order to protect themselves and others.
There was also an appeal that in future “the focus be placed on developing ethically untainted vaccines.” The issue of vaccine equity was highlighted too, with the bishops saying it is a “very serious moral test for the global community, and that wealthy nations have an obligation to ensure access to vaccines for poorer countries.”
During the meeting, the bishops welcomed the introduction by Pope Francis of a new World Day for Grandparents & the Elderly, and the formal institution of the ministry of Catechist.
Other important discussions centred on the Safeguarding of Children in the Church in Ireland, the public’s generosity to Trócaire, (Caritas Ireland), climate action, and Ireland’s participation at the UN Food Systems Summit in September.
Finally, as the Church continues its worldwide journey towards the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops in Rome, the Irish Bishops expressed their thanks for the over 550 submissions received from the public as part of the initial phase of the Synodal Pathway launched ahead of the 2023 meeting.