Monday 18 December 2017

Emigration is breaking hearts in west – bishop

Archbishop Michael Neary with Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown at the summit
Archbishop Michael Neary with Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown at the summit

Sarah MacDonald

THE ongoing scourge of emigration has left "broken hearts" in families and a lot of "justified anger", according to the most senior Catholic bishop in the west of Ireland.

Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam told the Irish Independent there were "impoverished" communities left behind as the young continued to leave.

He expressed concern over the impact emigration was having on rural dioceses.

"There is something particularly sad about seeing rural areas today that cannot field a football team because the young men and girls have gone off to Australia or Canada," he said.

Referring to people's anger, he said many believed that had those responsible for the economic crisis "been less arrogant", they might have been able to take "corrective action" before the situation reached the stage it is at now.

Speaking after the launch of a new pilgrim prayer card in Westport for those climbing Croagh Patrick, the archbishop said that his own diocese of Tuam had a history of emigration but that it was "very pronounced now".

"When young fellows or young girls leave, they take so many others with them. Some of them hopefully will return but I fear some of them may never come back," he said.

The archbishop said that though the church did not have any ready-made solution to stem the scourge of emigration, it was trying to work with local groups to tackle the the economic crisis.

He explained that six bishops representing six dioceses in the west of Ireland have been working alongside the Develop the West group and the Western Development Commission to find ways to obtain government or statutory supports to stem the outward flow of young people.

In his homily for Reek Sunday, delivered on the summit of Croagh Patrick yesterday morning, the archbishop hit out at the greed and pride which contributed to the economics crisis and which fuelled an illusion that "the few could shape the world as they wished".

He told the Irish Independent: "If we had been more conscious of our own limitations and abilities – and lack of ability – we might have recognised that we were on a path that couldn't last and would have serious repercussions for others."

Irish Independent

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