EDITOR – Christmas 2022 is here. Another year has passed with all its many changes and immense challenges. Yet, the Christmas message remains timeless. ‘The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us.’ God is with us. Jesus Christ is the light who shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not put out that light.
More than that, in a time of so many threats to our humanity and our well-being – the continuing pandemic, war in Europe and conflicts around the world, poverty, famine, migration on a massive scale, poverty, homelessness – the Christmas Message speaks pointedly and timelessly once more into these and many other situations too.
What could be more challenging to us all individually and as a society at this time than the experience of the Holy Family? ‘There was no room for them at the inn.’ In their country at the time the whole world was in upheaval and on the move. The lives of Mary and Joseph were turned upside down by the unexpected.
Their baby was born in a vulnerable and unsuitable place. Many wondered what was going on and what it all meant. Many still struggle to understand. That young family had to leave in a hurry to escape the threat of violence and death.
They were given safety and shelter in a neighbouring country. All of this seems to speak to so much in our own time and context, still.
Our calling as followers of the baby born that Christmas Day in the manager is to love the baby born in the stable and the adult he became, to love God whose love for us is unending and never limited, and, because of that love, to love our neighbour.
As an adult, Jesus taught us that our neighbour isn’t just the familiar person next door. Again and again, we are called, by him whom we follow, to love and to respond to the needs of strangers and to offer hospitality to them.
The generosity of so many Irish people at Christmas time is inspiring as we reach out to support those who are most vulnerable in our society. As we respond to the seemingly timeless challenges of people in our communities, we become instruments of God’s timeless love and presence.
Together, at this Christmas, we pray for God’s blessing on you all, and thank you for all that you do as neighbours to and for each other, friend and stranger. May the peace of the Christ-child be yours this Christmas.
Fintan Gavin and Paul Colton
Bishop of Cork and Ross,
Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross.
Don’t ignore symptoms of breathlessness
EDITOR – World COPD Day (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) recently took place.
COPD is perhaps more well known to people as emphysema or bronchitis.
It is hard to believe but, of the 380,000 people estimated to have the disease in Ireland, more than two-thirds of these do not know that they have it.
It’s probably not surprising, then, that, according to the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System, between 2019 and 2021, COPD was a cause of 3,087 hospital admissions of people from Cork.
Because smoking is the major risk factor in causing COPD, people can sometimes rush to judge those who are diagnosed.
But smoking is an addiction and we shouldn’t stigmatise people who also may not have had full information when they started smoking many years ago.
Equally, there are other risk factors for COPD which include exposure to second-hand smoke, inhalation of dusts, chemicals and fumes, living with an existing condition such as chronic asthma, and having a family history of certain lung-related illnesses.
At COPD Support Ireland, we are encouraging people to get to know the ABC of COPD.
A is for those Age 35 and over. B is for ongoing Breathlessness. And C is for a Cough that won’t go away, with or without phlegm.
So, if you have ongoing symptoms of breathlessness and cough, and are over 35 years, then I would urge you to see your GP for a spirometry breathing test.
To mark the recent World COPD Day, COPD Support Ireland launched a series of expert videos on various aspects of life with the condition. These videos, and details of your nearest COPD support group, can now be found at www.copd.ie
Remember, early detection of COPD is vital.
It could make all the difference for a life lived to the full.
COPD Support Ireland.
CoAction resignations must have caused upset
EDITOR – As a member of the quality, safety and risk committee of the CoAction, it was with dismay and disappointment that I noted the resignations of all but two of the board of trustees on December 8th.
These board members voluntarily gave of their time, competencies, wisdom and professional expertise for the benefit of the organisation and those who avail of CoAction’s services in a manner that merits respect and gratitude from everyone, irrespective of whether one agrees or otherwise, with the decisions they make on behalf of the organisation, service users and members.
The decision to resign cannot have been taken easily, but I am confident it was taken in the best interest of the organisation they served to the best of their collective abilities.
I cannot begin to imagine the upset this has caused to each of them on a personal level.
I would therefore like to publicly and sincerely thank them for their integrity, commitment and generosity of spirit.
How we treat each other says a lot about the world we live in.