21 November 2008

Embracing Difference

In today’s issue (21 November 2008), the Church of Ireland Gazette carries the following book review:

Embracing Difference: the Church of Ireland in a Plural Society.

Author: Canon Patrick Comerford.

Publisher: Church of Ireland Publishing on behalf of the Church in Society Committee Social Justice and Theology Group (Republic of Ireland).

‘What can we do?’ With this question, Canon Patrick Comerford concludes his book, Embracing Difference. How do we respond to the stranger in our land? How do we embrace diversity? How do we combat racism? How do we promote tolerance? These are some of the many questions raised in this thought-provoking response to increased immigration in the Republic of Ireland.

While written from an Irish perspective, this report and study has much to offer any country, region or community faced with an influx of foreign nationals – either as asylum-seekers or for economic reasons.

Although immigrants have brought significant economic benefits to Ireland, they appear to suffer disproportionately more from social problems and discrimination than the rest of society.

Canon Comerford challenges some of the myths surrounding racism and immigration, and introduces our ‘new’ neighbours. He lays a strong biblical and theological foundation – reminding us of the Christian imperative to welcome the stranger in the land – and leads the reader through a series of bible studies on this topic.

He provides a selection of resources for prayer and for liturgical use, and concludes with both practical advice and resources to enable us to develop a ministry of welcome and inclusivity within the Church.

The fusion of theology and praxis, combined with an eminently readable style, make this book a very welcome, timely and important publication which demands wide circulation.

Peter Thompson

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