26 September 2008

Racism ‘officially sanctioned, approved and legislated for’

Today’s edition of the Church of Ireland Gazette (Friday 26 September 2008) carries the photograph above and the following news report on page 3:

Racism ‘officially sanctioned, approved and legislated for’ – Canon Patrick Comerford

Preaching in St George and St Thomas’ Church, Cathal Brugha Street, Dublin, on Racial Justice Sunday (14th September), Canon Patrick Comerford, Director of Spiritual Formation at the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, spoke in scathing terms about racism in Ireland.

Referring to a recent incident when Garda Immigration officials arrested a Nigerian priest on suspicion of him having entered Ireland illegally, confiscated his passport, took him to prison and forced him to stand naked in front of other prisoners, Canon Comerford said: “I say I am ashamed and I ask forgiveness.”

Canon Comerford told the congregation that the incident had come to light only because the man was a priest and his arrest had caused a diplomatic incident. He asked: “What about the countless others we don’t hear about?”

Recalling the Gardai’s description of their handling of the matter as “lawful and appropriate,” Canon Comerford added: “We live in a society where racism is officially sanctioned, approved and legislated for.

“If we do not challenge the racism and discrimination that I fear could quickly gather pace in Ireland under the present political and economic circumstances, then how can we convince others that we believe in Christ and the Kingdom he proclaimed?”

The service was attended by a large congregation and led by Canon Katharine Poulton, bishop’s curate of St George and St Thomas’, and the Revd Clement Ninziza, from Burundi. It was followed by a meal prepared by members of the Indian Orthodox Church, who also hold services in St George and St Thomas’.

The Church of Ireland Gazette is at: http://www.gazette.ireland.anglican.org/

The full text of the sermon is at: http://revpatrickcomerford.blogspot.com/2008/09/shameful-face-of-irish-racism.html

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