Irish archbishop and president remember migrants on St. Patrick's Day

(Picture:St. Patrick Parish, cottage Grove, Wisconsin)St. Patrick image on website of St. Patrick Parish, cottage Grove, Wisconsin

Ireland marked St. Patrick's Day on March 17 with its political and church leaders issuing calls to remember the patron saint's experience as a migrant and for a show sympathy for refugees in Europe.

Hundreds of thousands watched a St. Patrick's Day parade through Dublin, but police in Northern Ireland said officers clashed with "a drunken crowd" in Belfast in the early hours of the day, DPA reported.

Archbishop Eamon Martin, head of the Catholic church in Ireland, and President Michael D. Higgins led the calls to remember the plight of refugees on the day that commemorates Ireland's patron saint and that is also celebrated in many part of the world where Irish migrants landed.

"As Irish people, we cannot think of Patrick - the captive, the slave in exile, the undocumented, the migrant - without acknowledging the enormous humanitarian and pastoral challenges facing growing numbers of people who find themselves displaced and without status in our world," Martin said in his message for the special day in Ireland.

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."This is so shockingly exemplified by the refugee crisis here in Europe," he said. "I ask you to pray for refugees and for all displaced families at this time."

Like his predecessor, Patrick, the current Archbishop of Armagh called on Irish people to personally befriend Christ and to experience God's mercy.

He said, "I wish to highlight in particular the plight of Irish emigrants throughout the world. This past year, following the tragedies at Berkeley [when six Irish students plunged to their deaths from a California balcony], we have become especially aware of the great work undertaken by Irish emigrant chaplaincies in the United States, Britain and Australia.

"Inspired by the teaching of the Gospel, they provide essential pastoral outreach to many Irish people as they try to establish a foothold in a new society."

President Higgins said Irish people at their best are "a nation defined by a commitment to human rights, creative imagination, and at a global level the upholding of freedom from oppression".

"In this new century, we Irish have a most valuable contribution to make in the global fight against extreme poverty, hunger, and in our response to climate change," he said in a video message.

"Conscious of our history and culture, we can give a lead too in crafting a human response to the ongoing refugee crisis," Higgins said.

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