God is being pushed to margins, bishop warns pilgrims on Reek Sunday climb
The Archbishop of Tuam Dr Michael Neary has said that God has been pushed into the margins in current society.
Speaking last Sunday at the 10.30am Mass after he joined some 25,000 pilgrims to climb the 764 metres to the summit of Croagh Patrick in County Mayo on the annual ‘Reek Sunday’ climb, Dr Michael Neary issued an appeal to those of different religious groups to respect each other’s beliefs.
He also hit out at the increasing move towards secularism in Irish society, and trends towards the marginalisation or banning of all religious symbolism.
He said: “In times past it was difficult to imagine the world without God. Today it is becoming a challenge to imagine the world with God.”
Dr Neary, who began his climb at 7am, added: ‘’Our culture endeavours to make sense of the world without reference to God. Living in a society of technological control and precision we are reduced to thinking that we know all of the codes.
“Change, even change for the better, can be disorientating, threatening and traumatic.”
Criticising the portrayal of faith in the media he said “In civilised society anyone who dishonours the faith of Israel, its image of God or its great figures must pay a fine. The same is true for anyone who insults the Koran and the convictions of Islam.
“But when it comes to Jesus Christ and that which is sacred to Christians, there seems to be a different standard; freedom of expression knows no limits,” he added.
“In our commendable endeavour to become more understanding of the values of others, have we lost our capacity to uphold and respect our own values?
“If all we can see in our own religious tradition is the negative and destructive then we are no longer capable of recognising what is good, wholesome, life-giving and positive in any religion or culture.
“The reality is that we can only value the sacred traditions of others with respect if we have an appreciation of our own sacred traditions. In this way we can enable others to reclaim what is best in their heritage.”
However, he said: “The Church ought to be a place of welcome, a counter-movement in a society that can be violent, unforgiving and therefore anxiety-driven.”
Meanwhile Mayo Mountain Rescue confirmed that close to 30,000 people made the climb, with some even commencing their climb at midnight on Saturday night.
Pat Hunt from Mayo Mountain Rescue confirmed that the rescue team took 17 casualties from Croagh Patrick – one of them a man who was taken by the Air Corps helicopter to Galway University Hospital.
He is thought to have experienced cardiac difficulty, but his condition was not thought to be serious. One of the other casualties was intoxicated. Other injuries are understood to be relatively minor.