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‘Society and the world need bridge–builders’

Bishop Paul Colton at St Patrick’s Day Civic Service in Cork

Preaching at the annual Civic Service in St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork, to mark St Patrick’s Day, the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, Dr Paul Colton, said that ‘more than ever our society and world needs bridge–builders.’ Speaking in the presence of the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Mick Finn, and the Deputy Mayor of Cork County, Cllr Derry Canty, Councillors, Micheál Martin TD, Leader of the Opposition, members of the Oireachtas, representatives of the Defence Forces, An Garda Síochána, NGOs, community groups, as well as of the civic and business life of Cork, the Bishop set his remarks against the backdrop of the atrocity committed against Muslims at prayer in mosques in New Zealand, as well as in the context of the continuing disharmony arising from Brexit, and the recollection of some of the wounds of our history in this period of centenary commemorations.

He said: ‘More than ever our society and world needs bridge–builders. The ghastly and horrendous atrocity at the mosques in New Zealand – and it is important, I believe, not to talk simply about the horror in New Zealand, but to remember specifically that our Muslim brothers and sisters of faith, were targeted – all of this exemplifies how challenging the tasks of education, nurturing understanding, dialogue, demythologising are, if we are to tackle some of the world’s biggest problems – often ideological, and often infused with misplaced and hijacked religious outlook and zeal: extremism.

‘The wake of Brexit, whatever that will be (for now we truly know that the phrase ‘Brexit means Brexit’ is one of the most vacuous of the 21st Century … ), whatever the fallout will be, our bridge–building skills in politics, economics, commerce and at many other levels will be called upon. The centenary commemorations of the present period in Ireland also highlight, for many, old wounds. One hundred years is not that long ago. …

‘As much as ever before, perhaps more than ever, we are called to be bridge–builders, bridging the gaps in the human diversity and differences that, rather than dividing us, should enrich us, nourish us, and make us a better humanity. Bridge–building is a civic obligation. It is also the calling of all Christians.’

The full text of Bishop Colton’s sermon is available here.