Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy
POLITICIANS need the support of the wider public as it is a career that can involve a form of “martyrdom and sacrifice”, Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy has said.
Addressing the congregation at the Immaculate Conception Church in Newcastle West in his new year’s World Day of Peace homily Bishop Leahy said that the effects of wrong politics can be “devastating”.
Bishop Leahy acknowledged that politics is not an easy vocation but said that courage is an essential characteristic.
“There’s always the temptation to be driven by self-preservation – the need to ‘get the vote’, to stay in with the party leadership. That can lead to compromising principles, taking choices that are fundamentally wrong for those who voted for them in the first instance,” he stated.
“Yes, we must live in the real world but we must also be able to rest easy with our conscience. Have I done the right thing or just the popular thing? Courage is one of the essential characteristics of a great politician and all great politicians are known for their courage.”
Bishop Leahy described politics as “a form of martyrdom” and “a daily dying to self”.
“Politicians can come under great pressure. They need our support. With a sense of realism, Pope Francis acknowledged this a few years ago. He commented how politicians don’t always get it right but he encouraged them not be discouraged, but always keep going,” said Bishop Leahy.
“He recognised how it’s not easy for politicians not to get their hands or heart a little dirty, but he advised them: ‘Ask the Lord to help you not to sin, but if you get your hands dirty, ask for forgiveness and keep going, don't get discouraged’.”
The negative side of politics, Bishop Leahy said “can be devastating”. He cited homelessness as one of a number of examples of the fall-out.
“When politics goes wrong there are devastating effects. It is shocking to think that one out of every six children in our world is affected by the violence of war or its effects.
“We all know that bad politics can lead to many ills such as lack of welcome for migrants, racism, lack of concern for the natural environment, and also homelessness,” he said.
Bishop Leahy finished his new year’s address by saying: “We can’t just work for change in society from the balcony, as Pope Francis put it once. We all have to do our part in politics, by being actively engaged. And let’s encourage a dialogue among generations, young and old, in politics.”