COVID shows we care about life so let’s recognise that all life matters – Bishop Leahy
Sunday 23 May 2021: Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy has said that as we hopefully step into a new post-COVID world, we should not forget the biggest lesson we learned during the pandemic – how much life matters.
In a letter to parishes to mark Pentecost Sunday, Bishop Leahy said that the feast day is a wonderful celebration of life and a good day to be thinking about the many ways we can continue to care as we clearly did about life during the worst of the pandemic.
Bishop Leahy referred to Tuesday being the third anniversary of the Referendum on abortion and while it is not a time to rehearse the debate, it does not mean we cannot look to prioritise the life of the unborn as well as all others. We must, he said, remember and bring the deep sense of care shown throughout COVID into our everyday lives as we move forward.
“As we gingerly step our way out of COVID we remember how as a people we showed such courage and resilience across this past year. But a timely reminder of how we so need courage and resilience elsewhere looms with this coming Tuesday marking the third anniversary of a Referendum that permitted the Oireachtas to legislate for abortion.
“I do not want to rehearse all that was said then. While, as the democracy maxim states, the people have spoken, that does not mean other voices are to remain silent; that those who believe in the sanctity of the life of the unborn should go quiet. I would like to quote a remark attributed to Martin Luther King: ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter’.
“As Irish people we like to see ourselves as caring people and in so many ways we are. We saw how we put the vulnerable and elderly centre stage during the past year of Covid. We learned to care in so many new ways – wearing masks, keeping social distance, sanitising. We are becoming increasingly alert to the need to care for our planet,” he stated.
Continuing, he said: “We need to continue to care especially when we hear: that the average age of death of those who are homeless is 38 for men and 44 for women; that we have the fourth highest incidence of drug-induced deaths in Europe. And, surely, we need to care, too, when we hear that in the year following the Referendum, 6,666 lives were ended in the womb through abortion.
"And we need to be vigilant in our care as legislation is weaving its way through the Oireachtas allowing for Euthanasia that will impact so enormously on elderly, vulnerable people, an issue that is far more complex than the limited discussion around it suggests.
“You see, all our lives matter. We saw that in COVID when we said ‘yes’ to life. So, this Pentecost, let’s allow the Creator Spirit disturb us. Yes, there are many complexities in life to explain. But we cannot be indifferent to the cries of the off-the-radar homeless, the bewildered addicts, the unborn who may be denied life, the vulnerable elderly.”
Bishop Leahy said that we need also remember those for whom this past year has had nightmare elements – elderly cut off from loved ones, those dying unaccompanied, the isolated bereaved and many of those bereaved on foreign shores, the hidden victims of domestic abuse, the increasing numbers of those with mental ill-health issues.
“It has been nothing less than a traumatic, stressful and exhausting time for some and that has touched us all in some way or another,” he said.
It is a time to again, he said, acknowledge the care so heroically given during COVID by healthcare workers and many others.
“They fought so hard this past year, trying to keep people alive. They fought so hard also trying to ease the tragic and lonely passage for people who were, without loved ones by their sides, departing to the next world – another remarkable illustration of how much we treasure life. I am mindful also of priests’ ministry especially to the bereaved.
“In time, I hope we can dedicate a special Sunday to celebrate healthcare/frontline workers. In the meanwhile, these days we remember healthcare workers as they face added strain due to the cyber-attack on the IT system.”