By Lisa Zengarini
The pandemic of 2020 has served to remind us of our interconnectedness as human beings, the four leaders of Ireland’s main Christian denominations and the president of the Irish Council of Churches say in their joint New Year Message.
According to the Church leaders, the “collective response” to the crisis by all members of society and entities, including Churches, is a “reminder that everyone has the potential to benefit others”.
Faith: a source of strength and support
The message also reminds that faith has been “a source of strength and support” to many throughout this difficult time: “Clergy, ministers, priests and lay people of faith have responded with compassion and imagination to the challenges of the pandemic, with online services, pastoral support and provision of opportunities for prayer”, the Christian leaders write.
They also point out the “new challenges and opportunities” awaiting Ireland and Northern Ireland in 2021, namely the changes brought by Brexit which, they say, “are another powerful reminder of that interconnectedness”. “The new context that Brexit brings demands a commitment to working together in constructive ways”, the message stresses.
Northern Ireland centenary
Recalling that the coming year also marks the centenary of the foundation of Northern Ireland and of Partition in 1921 and recognizing that people will look at this recurrence from different perspectives, the four Church leaders say that the centenary “opens up opportunities for greater understanding of each other, for further healing and reconciliation between our communities”. According to them, it also provides the opportunity “to reflect together on the failings of relationships and use of violence across the whole island” which have marred its past and “which in some ways continue to cast a shadow on the present”.
Connected to the global community
The message furthermore emphasizes that interconnectedness extends beyond our own communities to the global community, especially to those who live in poverty, whose daily challenges have been made even greater by the COVID-19 crisis. “Jesus’ reminder to love our neighbour is particularly relevant in this context”, the leaders write , adding that: “In our united commitment to be good neighbours we play our part as servants of the Gospel in building communities and a society in which all know that they are significant and in which all can prosper”.
“As we begin this new year we point to the hope that is made real as we recognise that we are interconnected and work together to build a better future” and “as Christian leaders we stand within the hope which has been made known in Jesus (…) who is the light of the world”, the message concludes.