22 December 2005

Fr Des: A Christmas wish


Go raibh am Nollag áthasach agus beannaithe.

May Christmas be a blessed and happy time for everyone.

Christmas is too often overshadowed by tragedy. This Christmas is. Our sympathy must go to the families who have been hurt by losing loved ones by death or in other ways, especially at this time.

People who have political and economic power have a duty to see to it that Christmas is not just a time for them to be hymn singing and asking the Almighty to cure evils which they could have prevented if they had acted decently, never mind religiously.

People with power have deliberately created hurt , engineered war and havoc, threatened one part of the population and bribed others forgetting that they have a duty – which powerful people hardly ever fulfil – of protecting the people not abusing them.

Have those powerful conniving people made the world a better place since the last time they stood up in churches and sang hymns asking the Almighty to clear up the messes which they created themselves?

Are there fewer homeless and miserable people than there were last Christmas?

Have we come nearer to civilised peace which decent people want rather than to war which the selfishly powerful demand?

One of the greatest tragedies of our situation is that many of the worst evils of the world have been created by strong Christians who speak with strident voices and rule with iron hearts, minds and hands.

The Christian message of this time of year – if not drowned out by the jingle of their money, the ring of the tills, the blaring music of supermarkets and the inspections by lord Archbishops of troops engaged in an illegal war – if it ever disappears from the face of the earth it will disappear not because of poor people refusing it but because of powerful people abusing it.

For the less powerful, the tragedies of smashed bodies in smashed motor cars will bring tears to the eyes of everyone who values neighbours and mourns the loss of the tremendous potential for good which has been sacrificed.

The tragedy of a man whom we knew and respected being sucked into cooperation with a vicious government will bring tears to the eyes of friends and neighbours, families and fellow workers. Our sympathy must go to all those who are suffering from all this.

And our anger must be directed again and again and again against the powerful people who have used our neighbours as pawns in their appalling political games.

If we are to look forward realistically to a next Christmas when official humbug will be replaced by government honesty and when powerful Christians and others will persuade their people towards peace and not train them for war, when government will do its duty and protect the people rather than involve them in its own evil, we shall have to take a strong and demanding attitude towards those who have power. It would help if Mr Ahern and Mr Blair would present us with evidence that they are committed to peace and a new settlement in Ireland's northeast.

They have presented little evidence for it so far. We are lectured without end about the need for trust and about our not having it.

How much more trusting can you get than to trust again and again and again, in permament goodwill, prime ministers and taoisigh who have consistently encouraged and facilitated everything that tends to break down their own international agreement?

We must admire the patience and skill of republicans and nationalists who in spite of the cynicisms of Downing Street and the inertia of Leinster House have come back again and again and insisted that agreements must be kept and only thus can right prevail.

It would help if Mr Ahern and Mr Blair would show more than soothing words as proof of their commitment to peace for our people.

It would also help if the recommendation of our people were accepted, that unless and until every single member of the old RUC is gone from any public office we shall never have a satisfactory police service.

Patten was told that in clear terms. He and his team and his government chose to ignore the people's wisdom.

Now we see what all that means as we are condemned to more years of secret plotting in secret lodges and dark police caves because government had not the decency to retire every member of a discredited police force and employ police which could be controlled, rather than police which would control both government and people.

It would help also if Mr Orde were to go home.

At this time, when so many tragedies occur, good people have to stand steadily and not allow governments or their secret police – under government control or out of it – to decide whether we shall be prosperous and free and dignified or not.

So indeed may Christmas be a happy and blessed time. And it will be, provided we stand together firmly and keep our dignity, refusing to be swayed in whatever direction by what bad government, greedy people and their secret police dictate.

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