Remember those suffering under the radar – Bishop Leahy’s Palm Sunday message

05 Apr 2020

Bishop of Limerick says that with peak predicted over coming weeks, we must remember too we are an ‘Easter people’ and will rise again

Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy said while we have immediate and unprecedented concerns for our own and our loved one’s health this Easter, we must also remember and pray for those ‘under the radar’ that will be deeply affected.

In a statement at the end of Mass at St. John’s Cathedral on Palm Sunday, Bishop Leahy said that the prioritisation of the elderly and those with underlying conditions has been right and understandable. But, he said, we must think of others who will be deeply impacted.

“We think of those who at times like this might fall beneath the radar of our attention – those normally considered on the edges: the homeless, people with addictions, residents of the Direct Provision centres, refugees, prisoners, people in socio demographic categories typically most impacted when the pendulum swings.

“In particular, I am mindful of those in Direct Provision. Some of them are elderly and with underlying health conditions. Let’s not

forget them. They are not cocooned but neither should they in their Direct Provision centres be left exposed to risk. We have a duty of care also to them.”

He said that we must think also of people further afield, in the ‘developing world’, people from the worst socio-economic disadvantage. “We cannot but be fearful of the horrendous direct and collateral damage the Coronavirus will visit on cities and remote rural communities in those regions of the world. Many deaths, sufferings without the benefits of healthcare, big gaps in public health possibilities. Many deaths in silence, the rest of us completely unaware of their plight.”

Bishop Leahy said that in thinking of these people, we must also be grateful for all who are working on their behalf. “There are many charities active in outreach. But these charities too are under threat. So we need to remember them – the Vincent de Paul, Simon, Trócaire, the McVerry Trust, Doras Luimní and many, many more. Though many of us are struggling financially, perhaps there are others who can keep up donations to these charities.”

However, he expressed concern regarding what lies ahead for our nation generally over the coming weeks. Not alone, he said, are the numbers of deaths set to rise, but issues around being with loved ones at the time of death and, indeed, funerals will deepen the trauma.

“Well over one hundred have now died, many are struggling for life, and we know that thousands more are infected. All the indications also, very worryingly, that we are entering the peak period here in Ireland. Behind those statistics will be devastation for families and friends of those who pass on. The circumstances of the crisis bring an extra layer of suffering to the bereaved and to those accompanying the seriously ill. Not least in that it will not be possible for some of the close relatives to be by their loved ones’ side to accompany them in their final moments. Not being able to hug them afterwards. Desolate funerals, heart-breaking farewells and so few around to console. It’s difficult to believe that we are actually living through these times.”

He concluded: “But we are an Easter people. As Christians, we are to be heralds of the Resurrection. This year our world is shrouded in darkness. But our Easter faith reminds us to be apostles of light and hope.”