Joint Christmas Message from Bishop Larry Duffy, Roman Catholic Bishop of Clogher and the Right Revd Dr Ian Ellis, Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher


Emmanuel! God is with us!

Over 2,000 years ago, a young couple travelled across a difficult terrain in trying conditions. Despite fears and trials, they travelled in hope. A mother was with child. They made their way to Bethlehem, not out of any wish of their own but in answer to a political order. They were to be counted, not for their own wellbeing or social advancement but for the levying of taxes and political exploitation. When they arrived in Bethlehem, they found themselves to be homeless, without shelter, forced to rely on the generosity of others. Into this scene on the fringes of an empire, God came among us, as a baby in a manger. The angels announced his birth and the deep peace that would come to the earth through him. The first to visit him were not the great and good, but lowly shepherds - vulnerable people on the margins of society. At one level, the political order was bringing people together for the purposes of power, but God came amongst his people in a lowly stable, to bring love and peace, without boundaries or divisions.

As we celebrate the feast of Christmas 2021, we journey together amidst the continuing restrictions and challenges imposed on us individually and as a community by the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite all the progress so far, we still feel vulnerable. This virus has shown us, in a most tangible way, our vulnerability and fragility. There is a danger too that it can foster divisions among people.

These past 21 months have shown us the importance and value of solidarity in our world. In times of trial and fear, in times when we ponder future possibilities, people seek and deserve hope-filled and inspired leadership; something that unites, something that seeks to erase the division between those who have and those who have not, between people of different nations and faiths, between different political outlooks. This continues to challenge those of us in Church and Civic leadership.

God is with us! Jesus comes among us to show God’s solidarity with us - through love. The love that Jesus first brought to the world in Bethlehem reached its depth on the Cross of Calvary. It continues to do so to this day. His example and his teachings challenge us. His love inspires us to reach out with the good news of the Gospel, to respect others, to dialogue and to trust, even in the most difficult situations.

Emmanuel! God is with us!

Wishing all people across the Diocese of Clogher the blessings of Christmas.

+ Larry Duffy, Roman Catholic Bishop of Clogher

+ Ian Ellis, Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher