Bishop in call to protect family homes
THE Catholic Church has come out in support of Master of the High Court Edmund Honohan, calling on the Government and banks to recognise that the family home cannot be treated like any other property, and that the risk of losing one's home must not be underestimated or minimised.
In what will be seen as a major endorsement of the views expressed by Mr Honohan in relation to the banks' aggressive and relentless pursuit of distressed mortgage holders, the chair of the Bishops' Council for Justice and Peace, Bishop Raymond Field, said priority must now be given to finding a "just, viable and sustainable solution" for homeowners in arrears, in the "interests of the common good".
In a comprehensive statement to the Sunday Independent, Bishop Field -- a qualified barrister -- said: "Today I appeal to the Government and financial institutions to act in the interests of the common good and recognise that a family home cannot be treated like any other property.
"Strong families are the cornerstone of communities and a healthy society. The environment in which the family lives is of central importance in that equation. The consequences of losing a family home must not be underestimated or minimised."
He reiterated the Church's view expressed earlier this year, in which it said the "home, which should provide a place of warmth and security, had now become a burden, a source of insecurity and a constant reminder of insurmountable debts".
Commenting on the impact this was having on those directly affected and on Irish society generally, Bishop Field said: "True economic recovery cannot be achieved at the expense of the well-being of our citizens. It is in all our best interests to ensure that a just, viable and sustainable solution is found to the problem of mortgage arrears and home repossessions.
"This needs to be a priority issue for both the Government and the financial institutions as more and more people are suffering everyday the strain of this fear and insecurity. Ending this suffering would be a significant step towards recovery."