Let’s bring some COVID experiences into the future – Bishop Leahy
Thursday 31 December 2020: Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy has urged the prioritising of the vulnerable to be the big COVID-19 experience we do not leave behind as we turn into the New Year.
In his New Year’s statement, Bishop Leahy said that the year will for so many be universally viewed as the worst in living memory due to the death toll from the global pandemic and managing bereavement, illness, economic hardship, educational disruption, restriction of sacraments including funerals, weddings, etc – not to mind continuing world poverty.
But it was still, he said, a year that saw priorities put right in many respects.
“Yes, we need to let this year out quickly. It is said that long ago in Ireland, they opened the doors in the house on New Year’s Eve to let out the old year and usher
in the new. But while there is much we will want to let out, let’s make sure we take note of the light that came through the cracks of this year. Strange as it might sound perhaps, but let’s not let every COVID thing out,” he said.
Because of what we’ve lived through in 2020, Bishop Leahy continued, as we head into 2021, with still much work to do to beat COVID-19, our world has a much keener sense that it needs to take care of itself.
“It also has realised just how much caring can be placed at the heart of political discourse and, for all of us, just how important it is to show particular priority care for the vulnerable.
“In his 2021 World Peace Day message Pope Francis urges us to promote a ‘culture of care’. In Ireland, let’s make a ‘note to self’ – in this year of years we did something really important; collectively, socially and politically, we promoted a culture of care of one another, starting with the most vulnerable.”
Bishop Leahy said that there was much we could have improved on, not least in the initial lockdown with cancellation of referrals and operations for serious illness, how we dealt with mental health issues, with services for people with disabilities.
“But the core priority was undeniably right – protect the weakest, those most vulnerable to the virus. Imagine what we could achieve as a nation if we applied this throughout society, viewing our public policy through the eyes of the vulnerable and those on the margins.
“May we never forget this experience of the year when vulnerability was neither ignored nor superficially dealt with. We saw need – we rushed to respond; we recognised mistakes – we remedied them; we recognised the cost – we were prepared to make sacrifices. This has to be a template for us going forward,” he stated.
“Collective effort has been a hallmark of our year. It shows us that when our generous social capital, altruistic political will and shared resources come together we can tackle issues and make a difference.”