“Good Friday is a day when Christians of all denominations throughout the world take time to reflect on the Passion and death of Christ. On Good Friday, Catholics are asked to share in that sacrifice through the traditional practises of prayer, the veneration of the Cross and through fast and abstinence. Many people in Ireland still join in these religious practises and enter into the spirit of Good Friday and Easter, which is the most important feast in the Christian calendar.
“It is a matter for the civil authorities to decide on the context and content of legislation, and this should serve the common good. The sale of alcohol on Good Friday is an issue on which Christians can make up their own minds based on an informed conscience and on the content of proposed legislation. It is also true to say that each year we can enjoy Christmas Day without pubs being open.
“I am also acutely aware that only one week ago the Health Research Board’s study of Irish people’s alcohol consumption revealed that one-in-three of the population is a harmful drinker, and that 177,000 people are dependent on alcohol. The HRB’s findings concerning our young people were even more disturbing: three quarters of alcohol is consumed as binge-drinking and two thirds of people in the 18 – 24 age bracket binge drink. The Irish Bishops’ Drugs Initiative, Alcohol Action Ireland and others will continue to work to arrest the mental and physical human suffering which is the outcome of these results.
“These statistics indicate that Ireland’s relationship with alcohol is fast heading towards a national emergency – and it is incumbent on politicians to support solutions to address this crisis.”
- Bishop Éamonn Walsh is auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Dublin and vice-chair of the Irish Bishops’ Drugs Initiative. The IBDI was established in 1997 as a Catholic Church response to the growing problem of drug / alcohol misuse in Ireland. The IBDI seeks to mobilise parish communities, together with other service providers, to make appropriate pastoral responses to prevent alcohol and drug misuse, and to respond to issues arising from the problematic use of alcohol and other drugs. The core values of the IBDI are founded on our Christian ethos and Catholic faith, along with the underlying principles of: respect, equality, partnership, pastoral care, professionalism and accountability. The IBDI works alongside clergy, pastoral councils or interested parties in parishes in assessing the gap and needs of the parish in relation to drug and alcohol problems.