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“Religious freedom is at the heart of human rights” – Bishop Buckley

Press release for New Year’s Day – World Day of Peace – 1 January 2015

“Religious freedom is at the heart of human rights” – Bishop Buckley

Bishop John Buckley, Bishop of Cork & Ross, today, New Year’s day, celebrated Mass for World Day of Peace in the Church of Saint Francis, Liberty Street, in Cork city.

In the course of his homily, Bishop Buckley said that the World Day of Peace for 2015 is celebrated in the shadow of the terrible persecutions of Christians in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and in Syria. He said that it was remarkable that the Christian communities have survived in this region for over two thousand years, back to the time of the Roman empire, but that within the past year they have been wiped out, killed and hunted from their homeland.

Bishop Buckley said, “We have all seen the horrific scenes of violence and persecution on television and the dreadful images of executions perpetrated by ISIS. Religious freedom is at the heart of human rights. Today, in too many countries, people are being killed and persecuted for their religious beliefs. Turning to violence in the name of religion is a perversion of everything that a religion stands for.

“No one can be compelled to accept a particular religion. Pope Francis has repeatedly asked us not to turn away from the suffering of our fellow human beings who are persecuted on account of their faith. In the last few weeks I have met with Bishop Antoine Audo SJ, Bishop of Aleppo, who told a gathering, during his visit to Cork, of the sufferings of his people in Syria and of the thousands of people who are being forced violently from their homes. He said that he was saddened by the indifference of western countries – including our own – to their persecution.”

Bishop Buckley appealed to all people to pray for those who were suffering and to those with responsibility to do whatever they could to highlight and end this injustice. “The Lord is saying to all of us on this day of Peace, as He said to Saint Peter, put up your sword,” Bishop Buckley said.

ENDS

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