Irish Catholics have been urged by their bishops to see and welcome Christ in immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees.
   In a recent statement, the Irish Bishops' Conference emphasised that "harbouring racist thoughts and attitudes is a sign against the specific message of Christ".
   The bishops said the current opening up of Irish society to immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers has given rise to the challenge of treating "strangers", in the way Irish people had hoped to be treated when they were forced to earn their living abroad. The immigrants' presence in Ireland had sparked reactions ranging from "active hope to unreasoning objection", the statement said, adding that attitudes of hostility, superiority or aggressiveness towards strangers were incompatible with what Christ asks of his followers.
   "Recognising Christ in all our sisters and brothers will mean that the task of welcoming immigrants becomes a responsibility of the whole community and not be allowed to fall disproportionately on the most vulnerable sector," the statement said.

9:38am 15/4/99 / Jesuit Refugee Service


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