Joint Christmas Message from the Bishops of Clogher 2003

15 Dec 2003


15 December 2003



Christmas presents us with a wide range of pictures to warm our hearts and charm
our memories. The strong and enduring image remains that of the mother and child,
the Holy Family, set in the hastily improvised circumstances of a stable with ox
and ass still in residence. Others are there too, different people: local shepherds
and distant Wise Men. In the background, we hear the cry of justice, the fulfilment
of promise ringing through from Mary’s Magnificat : My soul tells out the greatness
of the Lord. The world and its concerns are part of this small family of God and
God wants this world to be there in all its complexity. The name, after all, of
this child is Salvation.

The Christ-child is also the light moving out into the darkness. He is challenging
and being challenged all the time. Religious and secular powers in the person of
Herod and his advisors cloud the horizon. The mother’s heart is seared by an
anxiety about what the future holds for her magnificent child. Joseph will soon
insist that they flee from this Christmas card scene. Love becomes rugged in
showing its concern. Trust in a future yet unknown dictates the course of family

We are all too familiar with the things which wreck family lives. Child abuse
takes many forms. Drugs drag down many in its train. Children are forced to make
adult decisions with little or no guidance. Who can forget the recent photograph
of a young man leaving court, defying the authority of society itself ? The year
2004 takes us into The International Year of the Family. Ours is a world where
domestic happiness is harder and harder to achieve.

The family and the home have a vital part to play. The rejoicing over newborn
life with all its potential for goodness can still inspire the working of love
throughout the family of God and the family of the world.

+Joseph Duffy
+Michael Jackson
Catholic Bishop of Clogher Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher

15 December 2003

Further information:
Catholic Communications Office: (01) 505 3000
Martin Long, Director of Communications: (086) 172 7678
Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer: (087) 233 7797